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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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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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 →

1 in 4 is me.

This Wednesday will be five years since I last saw my beautiful mom alive. Each year it is always hard but this year hurts even worse. I think of all the times I’ve needed her here and all the things she’s missed out on.  Her shoulder to cry on and her hugs are something I wish I could have just one more time. Especially during the hard times like this past August when our journey to become a family of four (not counting Lou) was derailed when I started to miscarry at nine weeks; just two days before our nine week ultrasound appointment.

We found out we were pregnant right away. I remember being so excited and telling myself I would really make the most of this pregnancy. I was confident in my body’s ability to carry a healthy child full-term and had made it through a fairly uncomplicated labor and delivery (minus 36 hours of labor and a hematoma). After taking a few tests and thanking God for positive results, I shared the news with Joel and Hayden Keith. We were all so excited. 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 →

Getting through the hard days.

74bbcd1045617cfdfc240e5a38480681 Some days are hard and some days are even harder. Last night was a really hard one. Over the last month I’ve been trying to cope with loss and understand how and why some experience more loss than others. I know everyone has their own battle(s), but some just seem more obvious than others but regardless loss hurts. It doesn’t make one loss any less than the other. But to some holding onto that loss and grief can be a sign of weakness. As if there is a time frame for grief and “getting over” someone or something. To those people I would say, “it is really easy to say that when you aren’t the one experiencing those emotions.” You don’t have to go through your day seeing people live a life you once knew or you wish you could experience. Logging into social media, you see so much joy (which is great) but on a hard day it can make it even harder. People having babies, spending time with their parents and friends, and it’s easy to start to compare and break yourself down because your life doesn’t live up to that picture. That’s my struggle. Continue reading →

“When it’s cold outside, I’ve got the month of May”

I love Motown. Growing up we always had music playing in the house. It didn’t matter if we were dancing around, baking or cleaning, my parents loved music. It’s funny how some things stick with you because I also LOVE music. Any kind, I really can’t discriminate, maybe heavy metal but I’d probably end up finding some song I could dance to.

IMG_0905Smokey Robinson and The Temptations were two artists my mom played a lot and she sang the song “My Girl” to us when we were little. I still tear up when I hear it and find myself signing it to Hayden Keith too. (Fun fact: my last b-day gift from my mom was tickets to see Smokey live. She was too sick to go but a friend went with me, it was awesome.) Continue reading →

Happy birthday mom.

Blog1     Welcome. This blog is a new project for me but it really feels like it’s been writing itself for years. In the past five years, my life has thrown so many curveballs, presented painful obstacles and sadness, but also had some crazy beautiful experiences. It will be five years this October since my mom lost her battle to stage 3c ovarian cancer, and life since her diagnosis has always been bittersweet. It’s hard to make new memories without her, just like it was hard to make memories during her fight in fear they’d be her last. If her death has taught me anything, it is to live each day as if it’s my last but to never apologize for continuing to mourn her. Never feel bad for being sad. Grief goes on and it will never go away. I struggle every day to accept that she is no longer here, but in that struggle, I try to remember how she would want to see me from Heaven and that gives me the strength to make the most of what I have because I’m still here and get to have it. Continue reading →