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Friday, January 31, 2014

I am Mom, therefore I am a parrot

"SQWAWK! Do as I say!"
I am a parrot. Not in a past life. Now. I am a parrot. That is what I would tell someone who didn't have children and wanted to know what it is like to have kids. There isn't a day that goes by that I'm not having to repeat questions or directions. These three kids- 11, 6, & 2. Guess who, at the moment, is best at listening? The 2 year old. She puts them ALL to shame. She's my people-pleaser. The comprehension is just astounding. The other day I was beading one of these: 

X O Bracelet

Daddy & his mini me

She very patiently was watching me and asking me "I wear it?" with a strand of beads in her hand. Yes, she asks for EVERYTHING. She doesn't just take and run like most kids. "Can I play phone? Have rink (drink)?" Well while I was focusing on my bracelet a tiny bag with small seed beads emptied all over herself, chair, and floor. "Oh nooo" she says. She slowly pinched beads off of her and placed them back in the bag..with out moving an inch. Most would jump up dumping them everywhere, but she knew not to. After she collected most, she got down to see the floor. She ran to the kitchen and pulled out the little dustpan and broom. Ran back and tried her best to sweep it all up. Seriously. She turned 2 December 7th. During all of this I just sat and watched with surprise, pride, and amazement. The older two have their moments causing me the same reaction, but as of late- Harlow takes the cake. 

Since the move from California to here, Lauren had a bad first 3 months. Everyday she was doing or saying something inconsiderate, rude, or mean things to just about everyone- but especially Harlow. You just have to stay on top of it. Which is easy and frustrating at the same time, because I am the one here 24/7. You know it's been a bad day when CJ walks in the door and I say "I'm off duty." Seems starting around Thanksgiving, Lauren got the memo. 

Tay Tay
Taylor, as usual, did fantastic with moving. This is her fourth elementary school and she's in fifth grade. Quickly made friends, and likes her school. I think Second Creek is my favorite too. Everything here is living up to my expectations, I called it before we left Cali. I will cry (ok so when do I not cry when moving? But there's always part of me that is excited for the new adventure ahead) and I will probably ugly cry when leaving here in 2017. But alas, that's the life of a typical military family. 

"Ricky , Lucy, & the Chickalatte's"
These chapters of life feel like they are endless, but then others went by way too fast. Some day, when they are all out if the house, I will look back and miss the piles of laundry, books strung across the floors, and the sticky gloops of "what is that?" on the kitchen table. But today, and tomorrow I will continue to "parrot", because I love them. 

Photos by Ashlee Purpura Photography (you can find her HERE)

Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Coles's Round Table

Ok, so our dinner table isn't round. But you get the drift.

In our family, our laughter and conversations revolve around delicious home cooked food. Not a single meal is consumed in silence at our dinner table. You'd be lucky to get a word in with the Coles girls seated next to you. When it comes to planning and making the meals, we lean a lot towards Mexican and Italian. Can't you just feel the love and friendship in these sweet pics?
Mae Maw and her baby girlfriends

Me and my sisters (in law)
Half of the meals were learned through my mother in law Sharon, which she has picked up over her time as an Air Force wife living among a melting pot in San Antonio Texas. Between her and I, we've had our fair share of good eats and are pretty darn good at "figuring out" just how something is made that we've had the pleasure of tasting. If I have a question, she's my lifeline. If either one of us finds a fantastic recipe, or makes one up- you bet your fanny there's a phone call being made to the other starting with "Girrrrl..."

I feel like over the last year, we've gotten away from planning in advance meals. We'd plan around 3 or 4 days, and then get hit with a busy schedule with no food. Which then causes us to eat out or pick up. Spending more then we'd like to a month. With 3 kids, one on the way, and his new schedule of "I'm gonna be late/out of town" I really had to sit down and get a schedule figured out. So I made a list of every home cooked meal, packaged favorites, easy shortcut meals, crockery cooking, copy cat meals, and recipes given that we had. That was a big list. Some didn't need to be listed, but we were trying to have a list so when there's nothing to eat we could choose something and go to the store. So tired of wasting an hour of "thinking" of a meal we "feel" like eating. If we are starving, then the kids are ravishing. At that moment, we then throw our hands in the air and say "What do you want from Taco Bell?"

While living in Florida from 2004 to almost 2010, we had serious food withdrawals living away from Arizona. There ain't nothin' like some CPK (California Pizza Kitchen), Macayo's (DELICIOUS Mexican food), Rio Mirage (another good one), and Islands (awesome burgers and fries). So we tried our best at copying or finding copy cat recipes for certain dishes. And we were ALWAYS in the mood for chips and salsa.

Now, salsa can be made all kinds of ways. I learned from Sharon (MIL), which in turn she learned from her friend while living at Lackland AFB in San Antonio. We don't like to cheat the corner. Fresh is best. You roast whatever peppers you want (uhhh we do a couple of each kind, not just jalapeno. Spicy is goood), blacken your vine tomatoes to loosen the skin, roast a garlic head if you like, cilantro, onion, whatever seasoning you'd like...toss all in the blender and pulse. Like most things, it tastes the best the next day after it's "married" well. Sometimes we like a little chunky salsa, so I add some canned fire roasted tomatoes. BUT that's the only non fresh item used. Sometimes..we'd have chips and salsa as our meal. No joke. Lunchtime was best for this indulging. Just don't go do your workout in the afternoon. Holy heartburn..

Salad. It's so versatile. Summer in Florida was the best. Every weekend you would smell all the grills around base sizzling away. I, myself, love grilling something for a salad. Oh, it's soooo good. Marinade is the best way to add flavor AND tenderize. Our favorite is Lawry's Baja Chipotle for chicken. Best to make your boneless skinless chicken a 1/4 inch thick then marinade for no more then 2 hrs. Grilling is quick, and adds delicious flavor. I do not suggest you bake it. Did that and the marinade just didn't taste the same. Plus..no grill marks. I'm a big fan of southwest salad of any kind from any where. One day, after just visiting Arizona and having a similar salad dining out, I had an amazing wonderful thought. Add the Baja chicken over a salad. The mix-ins were obvious. Corn, beans, red onion, crunchy strips, mexican cheese. BUT the dressing needed to be phenomenal. Just plain ranch wouldn't do. You want to enhance the flavor of the salad, not mask it with anything other then this:
~Court's Baja Chicken Salad~ 
• 2 lbs of chicken tenders (or 3 boneless/skinless chicken breasts thinned to 1/4 inch first) 
• Lawry's Baja Chipotle marinade (marinade for 2 hrs then grill, store in fridge 2 hrs or overnight)
• can of southwest corn, drained 
• can of black beans, drained & rinsed 
• 1-2 bags of spring mix salad (or the rectangular container one.)
• 2-4 roma tomatoes diced 
• red onion diced • bag of tri color tortilla strips salad topping 
• Mexican shredded cheese 
• 1-2 limes for fresh squeezed over salad, optional 
• diced avocado, optional 
Salad Dressing
-> needs to marry overnight<- i="">

• 12-18 oz. bottle of ranch (not Kraft, or Hidden Valley- something more of a neutral flavor. Those two are very distinct flavors. I use kens steakhouse) 
• cilantro (leaves removed and chopped REALLY small) 
• can of diced green chiles (heaping tbsp or so, chopped/smashed until its macerated) 
• couple pinches of coarse black pepper
• 7-10 taps/shakes of cumin 
• couple taps/shakes of garlic powder (I prefer not to use fresh b/c you all ready have a lot of chunky ingredients) 
• juice of 1 lime 
• zest of 1 lime, optional *with the canned items no need to cook, and use as much or little as you want.

You. Are. Welcome. 

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

A dream is a wish your heart makes

30 years. When you are young, it feels like it is dragging along to get there. That in 30 years, so much is happening to you. As you're trekking along in life, things happen that make you think so much more has happened- but in all reality you won't remember them later on.  I'm 30, and all the highlights that are at the front of my mind tally up to a small amount. So many good things, and a few that...change you.
We were so young when we had Taylor. 19. I meet some 19 year olds and think, "Ohhh..umm..you should wait to procreate." For us, and especially me, we knew that this was what we wanted in life. A family. Someone I could call "my own". Like your heart was missing this beautiful piece. When we married, entered the Air Force, and moved to Florida into our own "home" it was so many things. Exciting, humbling, scary, new, joyous, and rubber-stamped. We made it. We were not a statistic. Just because we did things backwards in a short amount of time, did not degrade the value of our complete love for each other. I knew he was the one on that chilly evening in January 2002, and we hadn't even gone on our first date yet. (Just ask Cameron Wells, I called him when I left our friends house. He said I was nuts. I call it "intuition")

As time went on, life was fun. A lot of suck it up and keep marching, with deployments and such. Made great friends, made great meals, and made all the trips to our families that we could afford more precious. Little did we know, there was a hurricane on it's way by the name of Lauren Riley. She was a spit-fire from the womb. That hurricane made me feel nauseous from the rapid kicking and punching she would perform. She was just testing the strength of the hotel she so lavishly was enveloped in. She was work from the beginning, and everyday is an adventure in her mind...I have 12 more years until she's 18. But, we love our Lolo..

Here's where the "that's funny" comes in. We moved to California after a stint in South Korea. We were living there around 2 months, when we came home to visit AZ for Taylor's spring break. While there...I felt just so emotional. More then normal. I had just started a workout regiment, and thought March in AZ- perfect time to start running again. Strange though..got this metallic taste in my mouth, could hardly pick up the speed, and came back to the house and cried about everything to CJ. Two weeks later (after we came home)...pregnant with Harlow. It was like my brain was abducted. Putting things in the wrong place, speeding...under speed limit..then speeding. Could not concentrate for nothin'. Low and behold, I am with child. So here's the funny: Each one of us was born in a different state. We have first up-
CJ in Texas
  Me in Ohio
Taylor in AZ 
Lauren in FL

 Harlow in CA

Did we plan that? No. But I think it's freakin' awesome. 

We were only there a couple of years, new job equaled a new location...which equaled a NEW STATE. Jokingly I said, "Oh, hey..Colorado. We don't have someone from there." His response...we have 3 kids. WE HAVE 3 KIDS. Of course when he gets back from 5 months of school, his response was different. You'll find a lot of military kids are born 9-12 months after a separation. We got somewhat settled in, so I started running again. I had extreme lightheaded episodes, blacking out for a solid 7-10 seconds multiple times a day. The stairs seemed impossible to go down without the feeling of falling over. So I googled it. Pregnancy kept popping up in the search. Well. Huh. We were trying, but still didn't think it could be true. The very week flow was supposed to come, she didn't. We were only living here in Colorado one month when I took my pregnancy test. One month.
Yeah I was tired a bit, but not like with the girls. I was HUNGRY, and dreaming crazy dreams. The girls all made me feel just disgusting for the first 8 weeks. Drained of energy, fugly and fat...and then like a pretty rainbow that feeling went away around 12 weeks. This was soooo different. I feel stupid saying this, but I felt pretty not ugly. Energetic and such. Then there were these RANDOM mood swings. Not like me at all when pregnant. My poor husband and family. I totally would admit it at the end of the day, WHAT is wrong with me?? With I'm sorry attached.

I had this thought in my head. This nagging that I should look up twin pregnancy symptoms. My Dad is a twin, his Mom was a twin, my Dad's Dad had sisters that were twins. Yet out of Grandma and Grandpa's children (there 7 of them!) none had reproduced twins- and none of the grandchildren had yet to do so either. But I had a thought to see what others had felt. Most, as everyone would think, said they knew because they were severely sick or took a test really early. But there were a select few that said "I had no clue."

Let me say this: I would have rocked that. Yeah it would be tough. I like a challenge. Kid crying? Give them to me. I'll figure it out.

My November 12th appointment didn't show a second baby. Although there was this white line going from north to south within the uterus..but there wasn't anything visible in it. I just thought..that looks different from the others. Usually it's this triangle with a little alien squirming around in a mist of black. It looked like two sacs. I didn't ask the tech, it was super quick check for a baby, and out.

Friday, November 15th didn't go how I thought it would go. I was suppose to be making a cake for Taylor and Lauren's birthday dinner with family for Saturday. I started to have light cramping that lasted around an hour, and then I started to bleed. Not something you want to have happen together. He came home, and so did Taylor to watch her sisters, and we went to the Doctor's office. The ultrasound showed a happy, heart beating, kickety baby. I felt like I just knew this one was gone, but there it was. My eyes weren't deceiving me, but why a nagging feeling that this wasn't over? Go home and rest they said. I did. Chatted with my bestie before bed, took some extra strength tylenol for the contractions (thought it was cramps at that moment for the last hour) and maybe I should hit the pot before I fall asleep. The minute I stood up, I felt it coming down.

 I ran, I made it, it happened, I cried. And cried.

Any of you that have gone through this, know the next thought. I didn't want to or know if I should flush. I just sat there. It's gone. And the pain stopped.

I didn't call or go in, it was 10:30 pm on a Friday. I waited and called Monday morning, talked with the Doc, and because I knew what happened I just opted to do the blood work instead of coming in for an ultrasound to verify. I have had a miscarriage before, but it was caught and I had a D and C. The blood test will test for the HCG hormone that elevates while pregnant. That is what those nifty home tests are looking for. So I went in that day, went in 2 days later to see the difference. Mine was high the first day, and definitely took a decline. So it was true. I continued week after week through December. By maybe the fourth week (mid December) it should have leveled to zero. I mean sure it was going down..but just not quickly. "It could take up to 8-12 weeks" they said. I missed the drawing the Friday before Christmas. So in a two week gap it went down what it was doing on a weekly basis. WHAT is wrong with me??

I had started walking, and being more active. Using my livestrong calorie tracker, and some days 1400 cals just wasn't enough..so weird. But those numbers were not coming down and starting to plateau, something is not right. I can PALM my uterus, it's still puffed up- somethings not right. So Doctors are all in agreement, "Come in, and lets do an ultrasound to see how much matter is left. We have meds for that." I just wanted an answer. I wanted to feel normal. I felt so strange. I wanted my body back and life back to normal. I joked with CJ the week before that my muscles were mad at me for all this activity, because I could have sworn there was a baby in there with all the twinges I was feeling..

For those that don't know, there are two ways to get in ultrasound. The typical over the belly, and an internal one that is like putting on binoculars to see better. Since haha...there's no baby, internal it is for me. Up on the screen was this BIG empty uterus with a line heading north to south. The Tech says "Hmmm, I can't see very well. Let's just use the other one." Yeah sure, whatever. Let's just make the assessment so I can get the pills and go back to feeling normal.

Squirt some warm goop on my belly and....OH MY GOD. Over and over. Oh my God. What? WHAT??

There's a big baby in my big uterus. What did I first see, you ask? It's brain. Lobe left, lobe right. And mine feels like it's about to explode.

But I don't understand. I passed something. My numbers were going down. They wouldn't be doing that immediately after that event unless it were true. I lost something. But...there's someone in there! I was shaking. I was crying. I was as squirmy as "it" was. It was a miracle that she could even measure the baby to find out the due date. "It" was a miracle. And "it" was 19 weeks, as I would be as if the miscarriage never happened. I spent 7 weeks "not pregnant". Had a few glasses of wine spread out and a couple beers over that, nothing consecutive. We had completely, wholeheartedly accepted that we would never have a baby boy. Three beautiful girls we were blessed with, and FINALLY I was happily at peace and it was so hard to come to that. I was OK with never giving my wonderful husband a boy (he was fine with it, I struggled for years). I thank God for that. It was all him. Back to the event unfolding:

I said, "We weren't going to find out. Last baby, we decided let's make it a surprise.." (as I'm crazy eyed and rubbing my head at the conundrum before me).


She slid it over one inch, and there HE was legs wide open. AS IF my eyes could shockingly open any further is beyond me. This ain't my first rodeo, but the way I was acting..you'd think so. "I have to call my husband. He's not going to believe me. I joked this morning that if I called him in a blubbery mess and he couldn't understand me and that he got me pregnant again- that it would mean that I would feel/be pregnant for 12 months. ONE year. I would hurt him. Badly."

So I call him. I sound crazy. He thinks I'm in a ditch with my leg falling off. I take a deep breath: I am STILL pregnant, and IT'S. A. BOY!

Silence. "Courtney. Are you ok? Where are you?" SMH. Did you not hear me?? So I repeated and shoved the phone up to the speaker so he could hear his first baby boy's heart beating. He asked "Is he OK?" SMH. YES! Amazingly, beautifully, safe, alive and well. I wish you were here...This is when two nurses came busting in the door. No knock, came straight to me took my hand, and had these just frightful looks on their faces. The tech with a smile tells the news. CJ is just patiently quietly listening. I'm a cross between crying and crazy laughing. These ladies were sooo confused. Welcome to the party. The office thought I might be pregnant AGAIN, but not STILL. Their heads flipped around like the exorcist to look at the screen, and then came the tears.

Never in my life have I been this hysterical. Never. I didn't recognize my own voice. I kept rubbing my head, looking at the screen through blurry eyes. Never did I think in my wildest dreams would something like this happen to me. I could have been on the show "I didn't know I was pregnant." Think about it. You take a test because you suspect. You have 16 WEEKS to find out the sex. I found out both within one minute. ONE MINUTE. The one thing in life that I dreamed about, prayed for, bought for with no assurance that I would be given. A boy. And he will be loved. I just kept saying, "There's a penis in my belly. That's never happened before." Silly to some, but it meant so so much to me. I (we) had a name picked out all ready, Easton. After spreading the news to family, friends, our facebook world. After coming down from our high and accepting our new future, CJ jokingly said, "We will refer to him as Jason Bourne. After all, he's still alive." My husband, the comedian. Applause all around. And so is the tale of how Jason Ryan Coles came to be named.

"A dream is a wish your heart makes. When you're fast asleep. In dreams you will lose your heartache, whatever you wish for you keep. Have faith in your dreams and someday your rainbow will come smiling through.

No matter how your heart is grieving, if you keep on believing, the dream that you wish will come true.

A dream is a wish your heart makes, when you're feeling small. Alone in the night you whisper, thinking no one can hear you at all. You wake with the morning sunlight, to find fortune that is smiling on you. Don't let your heart be filled with sorrow, for all you know tomorrow the dream that you wish will come true. when you can dream then you can start.

A dream is a wish you make with your heart, when you can dream then you can start. A dream is a wish you make with your heart.

A dream is a wish your heart makes, when you're fast asleep. In dreams you will loose your heartache, whatever you wish for you keep. You wake with the morning sunlight, to find fortune that is smiling on you. Don't let your heart be filled with sorrow, for all you know tomorrow, the dream that you wish will come true.

No matter how your heart is grieving, if you keep on believing, the dream that you wish will come true.

When you can dream then you can start. A dream is a wish you make with your heart. When you can dream then you can start. A dream is a wish you make with your heart. When you can dream then you can start. A dream is a wish you make with your heart"

~From Disneys "Cinderella"