Happy Birthday Mom!

Today we celebrate the birthday of a beautiful woman who turns 60 in heaven. All day I caught myself wondering how she’d spend her day. We did our best to honor her here on earth. I finally hung decorations in Hayden’s room that have a special tie to her — bald eagle prints, horse decals and an “I’ll love you forever…” print. I couldn’t help but tear up as I was cutting flowers from our “Grandma Kristi” garden thinking how badly I wish I could share life with her. I wish she could see the excitement Hayden has for the bird feeder anytime he catches a visiting bird in his binoculars. Or the way he is so happy and proud to smell our flowers. He loves to play baseball and bake and just live life. I would give anything for her to have a slumber party at our house in Hayden’s teepee then greet Leah in the morning smiling wide-eyed in her crib. We’d take them on a long walk or runs, talk about recent award shows, the news and grill seafood.

I know she’d love sitting with my dad and just watching her Grandkids play and laugh. She’d be right there with them. And while it breaks my heart to think of all the things I don’t get to see her do, I know she does them all in Heaven.

I love you mom. Thank you for every moment you remind me that you are here, never far from my thoughts and always in my heart. Happy 60th.

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Happy Birthday Hayden-Keith

Friday was our sweet Hayden-Keith’s 3rd birthday. Tears have fallen and will continue to fall. We had a sitter his birthday eve and I snuck in his room for our last goodnight chat as a two year old. He became so big when Leah arrived and Friday he became even bigger. I catch myself thinking of a quote from Peter Pan during our bedtime routine, “little boys should never be sent to bed. they always wake up a day older.” It’s so true. I’m thankful for every day I get to see him become bigger and I’m so grateful he is ours.

  • Getting ready for the HOM Teal Strides
  • Wheaties box!
  • Podium picture

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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Sibling support

I’m in a few mom groups on Facebook and a mom posed the question of whether you can feel a family is complete after one child. They were debating having another but also felt good with one child and wanted other opinions.

So many factors go into that decision but I just felt compelled to comment with a perspective I unfortunately have had to realize and appreciate so young. Navigating grief can be really hard and it is definitely dependent on your situation but I can’t imagine my life now without my sisters. We didn’t always get along growing up – super competitive with each other and our parents (mainly mom’s time) and we’ve always loved each other but three girls wasn’t a walk in the park…I mean middle school years seriously.

A lot depends on family dynamic but I can’t imagine overcoming the last seven years as an only child. Sure friends and extended family offer their support, which has been great, but there is something comforting in knowing that two young women really actually do know how I feel because we are grieving the same person – OUR mom. She fostered great individual relationships with each one of us but it was and is challenging to find that new relationship and essentially our new sisterhood without our fearless leader.

My response to the question was basically this – As a new mom who lost a parent very young I’m so thankful for my siblings. Because good and bad days we’ve been able to help each other miss the one person we fought over (and still do some days). Now we get to direct all our smothering love at Papa Keith (formerly Father Keith). And who knows, my kids may grow up to not be best friends and talk occasionally or they may want to live down the street from each other and send their kids to the same school – who knows. But for me, I feel so much better knowing that they will have each other to make those decisions.

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?

I’m back…

To say I took a break from blogging is an understatement. Essentially life took over and after being pulled in a ton of directions, including relocating back to Iowa AND having a baby, blogging took a backseat.

But I can sort of see through the newborn fog (how long can you call them newborns) and finally getting back to some “me” projects. Super important when you have so much depending on you to have an outlet and I am prioritizing this one.

More to come but here is a peek into what’s been taking so much of my time. And I’m ok with it.

Due date come and gone.

Turns out I’m not the most consistent at posting and I have gained a whole new respect for dedicated bloggers since starting my own blog.

Today marks a hard day and really a day when I just want to call my mom. Today is the due date from our pregnancy that resulted in miscarriage.  It’s crazy to miss and love someone you have to wait to meet and it’s been comforting to hear of others who have gone through pregnancy loss just sad to know others have felt that same pain. In the sadness that haunts today, I’m blessed to feel the sweet kicks from our newest blessing due in July. Being pregnant after having a miscarriage has brought on a whole new mix of emotions but we continue to pray and remain hopeful as we continue the journey to grow our family.

Music is one of my favorite ways to cope. This song has brought me comfort in our pregnancy loss and especially these hard days when all I want is my mom. How do you get through the hard times?

 

Fancy candles, pretty containers, reuse

I don’t like to throw things away…there I typed it. I come from a long line of people who cherish things / hoarder, whichever you prefer. This has probably escalated now that my mom is gone but I’ve always loved the memory aspect.

But sometimes that turns into usefulness and taking something once used as one thing, and turning it into something else. My mom was really good at this. One thing I remember specifically, was her randomly having candles that were near burnt out in the freezer…obviously I asked why. She told me it was a way to keep the holder and reuse it rather than just throwing it away. GENIUS…she may have done this to save money but little did she know that wisdom would one day help justify my love for fancy candles in pretty containers. So in shopping logic, that means it’s a deal…fancy candle, freeze to remove the wax and voila – you have a new container for whatever you want.

Some of the best candles can be bought at Anthropologie. Their candles smell amazing, Volcano is my favorite, BUT they also come in The pusher in me suggests you visit the nearest Anthropologie, smell their signature Volcano scent and just thank me later. Another favorite candle was found on our honeymoon in Charleston, SC,  I stumbled upon Rewined candles and fell in love. They take me back to one of my favorite trips in one of my favorite cities. Perfect for wine lovers and/or pregnant women, it’s currently getting me through my red wine cravings. You can also find Rewined at your local West Elm.

A few ways I’ve found to reuse the containers include: cotton ball and Q-tip holder in our master bath, vase for fake flowers, toothbrush head holder or just plain decoration. I’d love to see what you come up with.

Instructions:

  1. Wait until the candle will no longer hold a flame, let cool.
  2. Stick it in the freezer for 24 hours (maybe shorter depending on freezer temp).
  3. Take it out and remove the wax, clean with warm water and soap.
  4. Find a new use for it.

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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.