Forever in our HeartsPrint Recipe Print Recipe

I have dreaded writing this post.

Mom put up an incredible fight. Six months of limited access to words, little awareness, declining mobility, in and out of multiple doctors appointments, and taking an obscene amount of medication around the clock. The emotions, deep sadness and loss were heavy on all of us, but she never stopped fighting. And either did we. Every appointment we went to – and I say we, because we ALL went everywhere together – she always had a smile on her face.  She would wave to Sunny, the receptionist when we’d come through the doors. She’d hold her oncologist, Dr. Crossland’s hand when she’d speak to her, even when receiving difficult news. With very few words, she never stopped touching lives.

December and beginning of January were dark months for us. Then in mid January, we had a glimpse of hope after we brought in Hospice and began Avastin treatments. She had access to additional words, more awareness and greater movement on her right side. We knew this was only temporarily, but we were going to hold onto whatever we had, even though there was still so much unknown for the future looked like.

On Friday, March 14th (6 months later), mom began her final transition to end of life, here in her own home. The days were filled with lots of ups and downs, moments when we swore that was it and then she’d fight through it. We had two of the most incredible days. They call it a window. She woke up from an almost comatose state with access to her entire vocabulary and memory before this journey began. We talked about everything from dying, what heaven looked like, who we needed to give extra hugs to and a check list of what needed to be done around the house, which she gave directly to my husband. We recorded her voice telling my sister and I that she loved us and that we loved her right back. At times, we laughed so hard that our belly’s hurt. One of the hardest parts for her and of course all of us what that she wouldn’t be here to meet the new baby. Everyone had tears when we’d talk about this. I asked if she would like to do a finger painting project where she’d put her handprint on one side and then we’d put the kids handprint on the other side. We did two, one for each kiddo. This actually brought smiles and comfort to all of us.

BTW – she was the only one to guess know the sex of our baby, which we found out the day of her service.

My mom continued caring for her family all the way until the end. She waited until Monday and 10 minutes after our head hospice nurse came for her daily visit. We didn’t have to make one single phone call. It was Monday, March 31st when my sister, dad and I held her hand as she left peacefully. It couldn’t have been more beautiful.

Hospice cleaned her up, put her cashmere sweater on, some lipstick and surrounded the bed with her hearts.

She was beautiful, as always.

She taught my sister and I to be strong, independent women and to be able to take care of ourselves in case anything were to happen. That included knowing how to put air in your tire to being able to get a job if or when we needed to. And by all means, she lead by example. She worked hard every day of her life. She balanced a successful career in the mortgage business before starting her own coaching business at age 59, raised our family – putting dinner on the table every night, and she did this all with perfectly manicured nails, styled hair and her designer high heels.

She was someone who didn’t gossip, judge, and hardly brought an ounce of negativity into a room. When she would ask, “how are you doing?”, she really wanted to know. Then she would listened to every word you’d say and before giving any piece of advice or pushing further, she’d ask if it were okay. I wouldn’t be surprised if she changed someone’s life that met on an airplane. That would be my mom.

Mom’s Celebration of Life was held April 17th at Newcastle Golf Course, the same place my husband and I got married. It was a special place for all of us. The photo (above) with her and Mason was taken at their restaurant shortly after we had moved in with them about a year ago.

The celebration was above and beyond. In the ballroom, 400 people gathered for the service. The speeches were raw, inspiring and didn’t leave a dry eye. When the service ended, everyone exited the ballroom and proceeded to the tent, where they were greeted with popcorn and a glass of mom’s favorite champagne (Veuve Clicquot) or white wine (Rombauer). Of course there were tears, but there were also lots of smiles and laughter. The moment you entered the tent, you could feel it – it was a celebration.

Someone in their speech said, not quoted exactly, but generally speaking, “If each of you could take a piece of Linda with you, the impact in this world will be significant.” It’s true.

My sister and I planned this in two weeks, but not without the help of our family friends, the golf course event coordinator, florist and a those from the funeral home. It was absolutely picture perfect and had mom’s name written all over it.

Every spring and summer, my mom would buy tulips every week for the house. They’ve always been one of her favorites. Two weeks after her passing, my dad, sister and I brought tulips and cards to her doctors, nurses and several others who played a huge part in this journey. The love and attention that we received from them was more than we ever expected. They provided comfort during the ups and the downs. Between them, hospice and our caregivers (yes, it took a village), we will forever be grateful.

I don’t know when it’s all going to feel real. There are moments when I think or even speak of her and I actually feel okay. But then there are also the moments, usually when I least expect it that I am filled with emotion and so much sadness.

It doesn’t feel fair for someone who made such an impact and brought so much beauty to this world could be taken away. I wish life lessons didn’t always require such pain and grief. I know I can’t stay in bed all day, quit my job, and just throw my hands in the air and say fuck it. Our hospice nurse told us, “Whatever you do down the road, make sure your mom can still recognize you.” And I will. I want to make her proud. I want that piece of her that’s inside of me to shine through brighter than ever. I am forever grateful for the moments that we spent together, which thankfully was a lot.

I know I mentioned this before, but in the process of going through old photos, I wish there were more photos of her and I growing up. This has been such a good reminder for me to stay in the photo with my kids. I hope this experience also resonates with others and has them stay in the photo too.

Life is so precious, the least I can do is get out of my own way to be in the photo with my kids. They’ll appreciate it one day.

Thank you to all those who’ve supported my family and I through this journey. It means so much to us and we’re truly grateful for all you’ve given us.

Much love. 

 

We’re having a…Print Recipe Print Recipe

If you guessed a girl – that would be 97% of you, well then, you were…

Incorrect.

Mason will be having a little brother, which obviously means, I will be a mom of TWO boys!

I’m not going to lie, I was hoping it was a girl.

Finding out we were pregnant during my mom’s fight with cancer and then losing her, I thought it would be obvious that I’d be pregnant with a girl. I wanted that mother-daughter relationship that I had with my mom. I looked up to my mom so much, I wanted a piece of what she had in raising two daughters.

After a good cry, I felt the excitement of our big news. My mom was the only person to think know that it was a boy. She told us this a few weeks before she passed. I told her I hoped she was wrong, but knowing her, she was of course right. I’m happy Mason gets a younger brother to play with and to teach. He will be the best big brother I could ever ask for. And the topping on the cake, we – as in I will be spending way less money than if it were a girl. Everything happens for a reason and I feel very blessed to bring in a new life and a piece of happiness to this family.

I’m also really happy that my best friend who just had a boy, we get to raise our little ones together.

 

 

For the gender reveal, we did the same thing when we found out we were having our first boy (Mason). After our ultrasound we headed over to Nordstrom, picked out a boy and a girl outfit, gave the sales woman our envelope with the sex along with our credit card and asked for her to wrap up the matching gender outfit.

We lasted maybe 15 minutes since she handed us the box.

Backing up just a bit, I made this ultrasound appointment a month prior. Crazy thing, it was the morning of my mom’s service. This baby sure has interesting, but such beautiful timing.

We sat in the middle of the mall, Ben holding onto the box as I gripped my coffee. He opened the box slowly and the second I saw the grey (and not the worlds cutest dress), I cried. I would have cried either way, but this was just some necessary grieving I needed to do to move on. After several tears, I felt a sense of relief.

Seeing Mason, I couldn’t wait to have another little boy.

 

*For those who haven’t heard, my mom passed  away March 31st. I’m in the process of writing a post about her journey, but in the meantime you can check out her Caring Bridge page that I’ve kept updated. 

 

 

I’m 20 weeks and honestly, it hasn’t been until I popped and started feeling the baby move that I remember I’m pregnant. It’s a completely different pregnancy than my first, but poor kiddo, I’m already forgetting about him.

I am way more distracted this time around with life going a hundred miles an hour, the only reason I remember to eat is because this baby makes me so hungry. It’s almost obnoxious with how much I need/want to eat. Thankfully I’m eating more than just cheese this time around. I actually want salads and vegetables. I do crave a piece of dark chocolate after every meal though, which I’m definitely not complaining about.

Considering everything, all is good and we can’t wait to hold this little guy in our arms.

 

<20 weeks pregnant>

Painting with NanaPrint Recipe Print Recipe

 

Over the past few months, our hospice nurses have encouraged us to use this time with our mom to make memories. One of the ideas was to prop Mason up on Nana’s bed and have them do finger painting together. We all fell in love with this idea immediately.

I want Mason to have these memories with his Nana, whether he remembers them or not, he’ll at least have the evidence in the photos and up on the wall. We now have a nice little collection of their art, which I’d love to hang in the kids future playroom or maybe just around the house so everyone can enjoy them.

 

 

My mom, Linda Baker use to be the President of Art with Heart, a non-profit dedicated to support the emotional well-being of children that have been affected through hardship by using creativity and therapeutic books to help heal.

There’s something so beautiful and also magical about creating art. There’s no rules, boundaries or expectations. To watch the two of them get paint in between their fingers as they smeared it over the canvas, they couldn’t help but smile. Then mace would gather paint in his hands and clap until paint went everywhere causing us all to laugh.

This was a healing for all of us.

Mason also loved sharing the paint with his Nana. He’d transfer some off the canvas and then try and wipe it into the palm of my mom’s hands. He was very focused as you can tell in the first photo and the one right below here.

She loved every minute of it.

 

 

I had bought more canvases just a few days before my mom’s health took a turn. I was devastated at the thought they couldn’t do another finger painting. A few days later she came back to us with a whole new energy and awareness. She was getting emotional about Mason so I asked if she was up for another art project. Her face lite up and said that would be wonderful. The photo above is from their time together this past weekend.

 

 

I highly recommend this activity to those who may be losing a loved one or doing this before there’s even the thought of loss.

Here’s what you’ll need and what to do -

Supplies:

  • 2 large bedsheets – 1 that you don’t mind cutting a hole out of
  • Selection of washable finger paints – we bought our at Michaels
  • Canvases – we did various sizes, also bought at Michaels

What to do:

If someone is in a hospital or any sort of bed, you’ll want to make sure they’re fully covered. We took an old but large bed sheet and fold it in half, lengthwise, then cut a small hole in the top. You can also fold over the top and cut a half circle so when you unfold, you’ll have a full circle. With the sheet still doubled up (extra protection), it’s easy to slip it over the person’s head. We then took another bed sheet and draped it over the rest of her body.

Depending on the age of the child, it’s usually best to just strip them down to their diaper or maybe a onsie.

I picked out just a few paint colors and put them directly on the canvas (one canvas at a time) and let them mix them together.

When finished, put the canvases in a safe place to dry. One person takes the kiddo straight to the bath and someone else cleans off the adult and remove the sheets that will go directly into the wash.

That’s it!

 

 

We also did my mom’s handprints, one for each kiddo. We’ll put mason’s and the new baby’s handprint next to their Nana’s. I’m so happy we have these beautiful pieces to hang on our walls.

Again, I highly recommend this.

 

 

 

 

Potato and Sausage Hash with Baked EggsPrint Recipe Print Recipe

 

My husband and I use to cook together, maybe once a week. Of course, that was pre-kid(s) and pre living at my parents. We’d either pick a recipe or think of something that we had somewhere and then recreate it. It was our time together, creating, sharing and reconnecting.

It’s been over a year since we’ve made a meal together.

But, we changed that on Sunday. A little late, but better than never. We definitely needed it.

With this pregnancy, I want to put sausage in everything. Tomato soup, pasta, eggs, with rice and veggies, etc. And preferably spicy sausage. Before my 1st pregnancy, I don’t think I ever ate it. Yeah, thank goodness for pregnancy.

My other weird thing, I love combining my food. I told Ben what sounded really good and then he helped put it all together. When I say helped, I mean prepared the whole thing… He’s the breakfast expert, and I do dinner. We make a good team.

This is one of my favorite breakfast combinations. We always have leftover yukon potatoes that were cooked the night before – Dad always buys at least 2 extra. He has since I was a kid - so this is a perfect way to avoid waste. Any kind of bell pepper would work, it add a nice crunch and it’s always good to “sneak” in the veggies. If you want more good-for-you, healthy stuff, you could probably add spinach to this as well. The combination of pepperoncinis and the creole seasoning, there’s some nice zip to the dish. If you don’t like spicy, then back off the creole seasoning and maybe skip the pepperoncinis. Then the baked eggs in the middle of all that deliciousness is the topper. Breakfast for dinner, maybe?

Here’s to many more cooking adventures!

 

 

 

Potato and Sausage Hash with Baked Eggs

PRINT Recipe

Serves about 4

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 large Yukon potatoes
  • 1/2-1 tablespoon creole seasoning – add more for more spice or less seasoning for less spice
  • 4 uncooked sausages, casing removed – I went with spicy
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/3 cup pepperoncinis, chopped
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup fresh chives
  • salt + pepper

Directions

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

In a large oven safe pan or skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add potatoes and sprinkle creole seasoning. Move potatoes around until all the potatoes are covered.  Note: depending on your spice preference, you can add more creole seasoning. I like a lot. 

In a separate pan, over medium heat, cook the sausage until cooked through.

When the potatoes are soft (finished cooking), add the sausage to the pan. Using the same pan the sausage was in (don’t clean it, yet!), add the bell pepper and pepperoncinis and cook until softened, about 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add to the potatoes and sausage and mix together.

Make four little indents and crack one egg at a time and place in the center of the indentation.

Place the pan into the oven and bake for 8-10 minutes or until the eggs are almost (but not quite) cooked. It’s okay for them to still be running. They’re the best that way!

Remove, sprinkle with chives, salt and pepper (if needed), serve and enjoy!

 

*gluten-free *dairy-free