Mother’s Day gift guide

This week is always a hard. Staying positive when you want to celebrate the person who brought you to life takes a toll emotionally. But the one person who’s mission in life was to always celebrate you should be celebrated. The countless marketing emails and social posts calling out Mother’s Day make it hard to escape. The best decision I made when my mom passed away was to not think of her as past-tense. She’s still my mom regardless of whether she is on earth or not. So, even though the day is bittersweet and May is especially hard because it’s her birthday month, I’ve put together a list of ways to celebrate or honor moms who are here in person or in spirit.

Mother’s Day road race
Whether its specific for the day like this local one (I signed up for the 10K), it’s a great way to get celebrate an active mom or honor your mom by doing an activity she loved and can no longer do.

Flowers
I love flowers and all you haters can say they are a waste of money but they will no doubt bring a smile. Whether you buy a bouquet (I’m obsessing over Boesen’s collection) or hanging basket from a local greenhouse like Canoyer – you can’t go wrong. And these can be taken to a grave site or given to a hospital or place that maybe meant a lot to your mom. We’re going to plant our garden and a peony bush in my mom’s honor.

My wedding bouquet courtesy of Bella Flora Event Design.

Brunch
Give mom a break and take her out to brunch or visit her favorite restaurant. Order her favorite meal or bake your own using family recipes. Check out my friend and blogger, The Makerista’s take on how to throw a simple Mother’s Day brunch with Keurig.

Makerista Mother’s Day Brunch w/Keurig photo: Justin Salem Meyer

Perfume/Candle
A scent can bring on nostalgia. Perfumes make a great gift but they can also take you back to a place and a memory. These Anthropologie candles are my favorite.

Music
Attend a concert, make a CD or playlist that your mom can jam out to or load it with songs that remind you of her. My mom loved James Taylor, The Eagles and Motown. I have a special playlist of songs just for her. Grab an iTunes gift card and make a playlist together.

Those are just a few ideas. How are you celebrating?

Weekend recharge in Decorah

With young kids it’s super hard to travel. Growing up we spent a lot of time at home and now with my own kids, I totally get why. But one place we always traveled to was my parents hometown of Decorah, IA. It’s one of my favorite places. The small-town laid-back feel, beautiful scenery and so much to do outdoors is undeniable. My parents are fourth grade sweethearts and so much of them and who they are is in that hometown and I grew up loving that connection. It’s so special to me that Joel proposed in front of the tree my parents planted on Luther Campus.

There is so much about this part of Iowa that I love, but a very special place is my the farm my mom grew up on a few miles outside of town. It’s breathtaking. Both that house and the farm land have been in the family for over a century and it’s something the entire Olson side is so proud of. My childhood memories include waking up to the sun shining through the sheer curtains covering windows that overlooked raspberry bushes, grandma’s garden, the old chicken coop and pump house. To this day, I LOVE waking up with the sun.

Riding with grandpa on his tractor, hunting for farm cats and giving them our table scraps, going fishing and playing endless games of cards. There are so many memories in that old farmhouse and on that land, that make me so proud to be my mother’s daughter and her mother’s granddaughter. I only wish she could have been with us in person when Hayden and Leah visited a few weeks ago. We could have stayed for days. Hayden loved exploring and throwing pine cones. Leah just took it all in from her carrier. It’s hard to not tear up being out there without my mom. We spent time with the Olson matriarch, my Grandma Olson, who is the best. I know we would visit more if my mother was here. Below is a picture of us hanging out at her apartment in town and we unintentionally left a spot for mom on the couch.

If you’re in need of a quick weekend recharge visit Decorah. Take in the delicious local food, the amazing outdoor activities, go during Nordic Fest for a complete Scandinavian experience and visit the Decorah Bald Eagles and the fish hatchery. There is so much more, we will be back soon.

   

 

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Christmas gift that gives

If you know me then you know bald eagles are my thing (see previous post). This year for Christmas my sisters and I decided to adopt the American Bald Eagle exhibit at the local zoo, Blank Park Zoo, as a surprise to my dad and a unique way to honor our mom. Offering a variety of donation levels, the money goes toward the care of the animals and the exhibit which is always a favorite of ours.

This weekend we made our way to check it out. I teared up seeing their names on the sign. It’s bittersweet but I know she’s proud and Father Keith loved it. 


What are some ways you remember or honor a loved one?

Lots of love.

IMG_8399I hope your 2016 is off to a great start. Ours has been crazy busy and I took some time to restart and refocus in the new year. We kicked our year off with a trip to Pasadena to cheer on our Hawkeyes. It was a fun, quick trip for Joel and I but we got to spend time with his mom and some of our fellow Hawkeye friends.

Fast-forward to February and one of my favorite months. I LOVE holidays. As I’ve mentioned a few times on this blog, my mom LOVED holidays and she made it so much fun growing up. Decorating the house, baking holiday-themed treats and just taking that extra time to enjoy the day for it’s special reason was always fun. It’s been fun caring this tradition on with Hayden-Keith especially as he has gotten older.

Whether you think Valentine’s Day is just another day is totally up to you. But this year I challenge you to think outside of the usual box of chocolates. Sure, it’s typically a day for lovers but why not make it a day of love. Show whomever you love—yourself, your parents, sibling, spouse, kids, pet or a stranger what it means to love. Stop by your parents house unannounced or honor a lost loved one by doing an activity they loved to do or that you often did with them. I’ll be baking some of my mom’s special Valentine’s Day cookies with Hayden-Keith and loving up on my two human and fur men. We may have kicked off our day with donuts.

In keeping with the love theme, and since we didn’t take Christmas photos, we decided to take Valentine photos to share some exciting news. A huge shout out to my long-time friend, Kate Iverson of Kate Iverson Photography, for capturing these moments for us! You are the best.

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We are so excited to be growing our family. In a previous post, I shared the story of our miscarriage. The loss will always be with us, and we know we’ll meet that little one day but we have kept our faith and know that God has a plan for us, and our family. Can’t wait to meet this little one in July.

All that you’ve missed but seen


Thank you so much for all the love, thoughts and messages regarding our last post. While our hearts are broken we know it’s not the end of our journey to grow our family and will just see where God takes us.

IMG_6787It’s officially been five years since the last day I got to talk, hug and love my mom in person. And it’s been really hard. It’s been harder than normal and I find myself tearing up really easy, just wishing I could call her. As I do each year, I took the day off to just spend some time with myself and her. I made sure to do things we would have done together or something she would have done in her every day like taking Lou for a run and baking her cut-out cookie recipe. Joel even helped me frost and decorate. Oh and I wore her turtleneck cropped wool sweater which I received compliments on (my sisters won’t believe it). My sister Catie and her manfriend Arlin came over and we ordered “terrible” Chinese. It was great. Continue reading →

Soar on wings like eagles

Eagle_closeupAnyone who knows me knows I love Bald Eagles. Growing up my parents shared their love of this bird, due in part to their hometown, Decorah, IA. It’s a popular area for Bald Eagles and when we would road trip to visit family we would always keep an eye out for one. Dad said we’d get $5 for everyone we saw (still waiting to collect).

I never knew how this bird would become my saving grace in coping with my mother’s cancer. When her hair started to fall out from chemo, mom got together with her sisters to shave her head. She looked amazing. I wish I would have done it with her but my head has a dent in it. Regardless she looked beautiful. One day she was probably asking me to do something and I got sassy with her and called her “Bald Eagle.” She gave me a look but I quickly recovered and let her know it was a symbol of strength and grace. She liked it and the name stuck. Continue reading →

Words to live by

IMG_7943When my mom was diagnosed, it brought on so many emotions. I was in the middle of a quarter-life crisis (it’s a real thing), graduating college, ending a relationship, moving out for the first time, applying for jobs and THEN my best-friend mom was diagnosed with cancer. I needed advice. I wanted someone to tell me it was ok, that she would be alright, I would be alright, my family would be alright and life wouldn’t end.

To cope with the fear of the unknown, I found myself gravitating towards quotes and poems. Whether it was on strength, love, grief or friendship I started saving these in a homemade journal I received from my cousin. I still have it and will write down new quotes whenever I find them. You can find a lot of them on my Pinterest board. Continue reading →

Favorite workouts

299060_2086156031640_4927900_nStaying active was a lifestyle my parents practiced for as long as I can remember. It was a part of their every day and they encouraged my sisters and I to make it a part of ours as well. Since my mom and I used to workout together, I view this as my time to spend with her and to get in a little “me” time when so much of my day revolves around Hayden Keith, Joel and work. And, my pinterest board has tons of options that I haven’t tried yet…oops.

What are some of your favorite workouts or training programs? My mom was all about long runs but I get bored so I have to mix it up. We have a gym membership but most days I end up in our basement doing a magazine routine or out for a run, (whatever Hayden Keith allows). Mixing it up helps keep me sane. Below are a few of my favorites. IMG_6781 Continue reading →

Running for mom

IMG_7883On Saturday, September 12, Hayden Keith, my sister Catie and I attended the annual HOM Teal Strides for ovarian cancer run. The run benefits MOCA, an amazing local non-profit that is a crusader for ovarian cancer awareness. The last time I participated in this event, I was 6 weeks pregnant with Hayden Keith so it was neat to experience the run with him. I try to participate in one ovarian cancer event every year as a way to connect with mom and do my part to raise awareness for such an awful disease. It’s bittersweet to be around so many others who understand the nastiness of ovarian cancer and seeing the teal makes me smile. I wish mom was here to still run with me. Organizers handed out stickers to wear that said whether you were running in honor or memory of someone. I grabbed one for Hayden Keith and me. As I was running, I tried to read who others were running for and it was sad to see so many people my age running for their mom, kids Hayden Keith’s age running for grandma and husbands like my dad running for the wives. This disease is much more treatable in the early stages, there needs to be a better screening process for early detection. Continue reading →

Jewelery with a purpose

IMG_7838Ugh still working to post more regularly and I think I have a new way to get ahead…stay tuned for that. I promise not to leave you weeks with no post.

It seemed life might slow down once summer wrapped but that doesn’t seem to be the case. A big highlight was my baby sister getting married last weekend which was also our parent’s anniversary. When she told me they wanted to get married on that date I was so proud she chose to honor our parents in that way. This was my first sibling wedding so it was great to celebrate them but also hard to not have our mom there in person…she would have slayed the dance floor with us. I was asked to be the officiant and made it through without too many tears. And, we were able to incorporate mom throughout the day. From a decorated memorial with a combination of her favorite flowers, to donations collected in her honor and a unique gift from dad, we definitely made sure she was a part of the big day. Continue reading →