• Coping with Grief

    Just over one year ago I took this picture. April 16,2014.

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    It was the day after my Mom’s heart surgery. It was a day full of happiness, love and relief. I knew that her road ahead would be a long one, but I remember feeling like things were going to be okay.

    I remember going to see her that morning and she was getting ready to be moved from the ICU to her room where she would be for the remainder of her stay. I asked her if I could take her picture and without hesitation she said “yes”. It was such a feeling of relief that we were out of the “first 24 hours after surgery”, which seemed to be the most daunting and now we got to look ahead to recovery and her feeling better. Most of you already know that my Mom passed away just 9 days after her surgery.

    Below are many random thoughts that I have had over the past year. And when I say random, I really mean random, unclear, unfocused, sad but trying to be happy. All the normal “Coping with Grief” stuff.

    I’m trying focus on the good rather than the bad. The time I had with my mom rather than the time I won’t have. In the first few months I kept thinking of the all girly things I had looked forward to doing with my mom and Summer together. The pedicures, the girls weekends away. I was excited to share the things that my mom and I had done together, now with a third generation of girls.

    I remember a day long ago when I told someone that I never wanted a girl. That I wouldn’t know what to do with a girl. Afterall, I only knew life with a boy. Of course down the road that all changed. I longed for a girl. I looked forward to having a relationship with a daughter that my mom had with hers. And I remember the day in the hospital when Summer came into our life being so happy that it was finally a reality. Now especially, I feel like Summer was chosen for me and my family for an even more specific reason. And while I was grateful for her before, I know I won’t take a moment of having a daughter for granted.

    These days I am trying to remember this: I had my mom in my life for just over 31 years. I can look back on those 31 years and say we laughed, we cried, we got mad, we faught. But we always had fun, we always made up and most important, we always loved. I remember so many car trips with our music up loud, singing. Our trips to Costco, always leaving with a hot dog and a Coke. Her taking my boyfriend and I to the movies, with her sitting just rows behind us. The pedicures, the shopping trips, sitting on the couch watching movie after movie with a big bowl of popcorn. She was always there for me, and I, there for her.

    And while I always wish for her to be here for me and my family, it warms my heart to know where she is now. I think of my Grandma Betty, my mom’s mom, who has been gone for almost 20 years and she has now been reunited. I think of her own dad, who she never got to know since she lost him just two days after her first birthday.  Not to mention the countless other people we have lost in our lives. But mostly, I think of the little baby brother I never got to meet. The one my mom lost during her 8th month of pregnancy. The one whos 30th birthday we should have celebrated last year. The one who, I’m sure, was waiting to give her a hug 30 years in the making.

    Sometimes, I feel as though I am walking in a constant fog of grief.

    I remember a day when my mom was over. Summer had just woken up from a nap and my dad went and got her. When they walked out into the living room I said to Summer, “How is my favorite girl?” to which my mom jokingly said, “I thought I was your favorite girl?” I responded by saying that she was still my favorite but now that Summer is here, she is also my favorite. I can’t even begin to count how many times I have played that conversation in my head. While I know that my mom truly meant nothing by it, and for it to be a joke, I still think about it often. About how she was my favorite girl for 29 years of my life and then this little girl comes along and takes her place.  Like I said, I know my mom meant nothing when she said it, but that conversation weighs heavily on my mind.

    I recently read this: Can you truly say that God is good?
    And my answer is so conflicted. Before April 24, 2014 I would have said yes. I would have said that He has a plan for everything He does. I would have said He has a reason for everything that happens, even though I have known so much loss in my life. But now, I can’t help but question everything in life. What good is there to come of me not having my mom? What good is there to come of my kids growing up without a Grandma? What good is there in my dad going to sleep everynight without kissing his wife?  I want to believe with my whole heart that He know what is best for us, but how is this best? How does this make any sense at all?

    My mom is gone. My life will never be the same again. No matter what anyone says, it will not get better. It will not get easier. But I am adjusting to my new normal.

    In the first few months after my mom passed, so many things happened where my first thought was to call my mom and tell her. Or to think, “I can’t wait to tell my mom”. Or the feeling in my stomach when I started to call her cell phone and suddenly remember. But I remember a day where I was driving down the road and I had this thought: “I need to call my mom because I haven’t talked to her in FOREVER!” It really hurt a split second later when reality hit and reminded my just why.

    I have so many angry feelings. I’m not mad at her, but for her.  I’m mad about everything she is missing. I recently was looking through pictures and saw one I took of Summer the day before my mom died. She is so tiny. Such a little baby. She was only saying a handful of words, still being shy. Such short hair, not even touching her shoulders.  And it makes me mad that my mom isn’t able to pick up that little girl that adored her so much and cuddle her, or sing her “sunshine” just one more time. It makes me mad that she didn’t get to see Tyler on his first day of preschool or Zach’s elementary school graduation. Or anything else they do.

    So here we are, almost a year later. Today is a really hard day for me. Not only are we just a couple of days from the year anniversary, but today, one year ago was the last time I saw my mom face to face. I went to my parent’s house that morning after Easter, but we didn’t stay very long. I had Tyler and Summer with me and she talked to them for a few minutes but then my dad and aunt took them outside to look for “dinosaur bones” and “dragon’s eggs”- which they found, by the way. My mom and I sat in her bedroom and visited for a little bit. I will never forget the conversation that we had, because I now feel like my mom was telling me the things she did because she knew it was the last time we would be face to face. She was tired and worn out, and knowing I would see her in a day or two I packed up the kids and took off. I talked to her for a brief moment, on speaker phone, that night when I called my dad to check on her.

    There is no easy way to cope with grief. And there is no right way to cope with grief. We all do it differently, and at our own pace. Don’t ever listen to someone who tells you that “It will get better”. Because guess what? IT WILL NOT. But you will adjust to your new normal. Don’t listen to anyone who might tell you that you need to move on, or grieve differently. Because as long as you are not harming yourself or someone else, then you are doing just fine.

  • The Colbert Clan’s Best of 2014

    2014 was a pretty good year for The Colbert Clan. Or whatever I was calling it at that time…..

    Despite the two name changes, I’ve shared some pretty good stuff. And while my personal life left me feeling in the dumps, I used this blog as my outlet to share my feelings and for my projects and the recipes I recreated.

    The projects and recipes below are not only some of my personal favorites but reader favorites as well.

    I have said many times before that I’m always looking at Pinterest for something new to feed my family. And a few years ago I promised to no longer let a recipe or an ingredient intimidate me! So this past year I made many new things, but here are my top 6 recipes:

    Best Recipes of 2014

    (Clockwise from the big picture — Go ahead! Click the link! I’ll wait right here)

    1. Rigatoni Pasta Pie

    2. The Perfect Cheesecake

    3. Cookies and Cream Cupcakes

    4. Cheesy Garlic Pull Apart Bread

    5. Chicken Parmesan

    6. Sloppy Joe Tater Tot Casserole

    Now onto the crafty projects! I love working on DIY projects and if I can save some money by doing it myself then I get even more excited. I did a bedroom makeover, painted my Kitchen Aid mixer and many other things. Here are my top 5 projects:

    Best Projects of 2014

    (Clockwise from top left)

    1. How to paint your Kitchen Aid Mixer

    2. DIY Headboard

    3. Easy Envelope Pillows

    4. Citrus Coasters

    5. Home made Baby Wipes

    There you have it! The Best of The Colbert Clan 2014.

    What were some of the highlights of YOUR year?

  • KY Yours + Mine Date Night

    This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #YoursandMine #CollectiveBias

    I know I’m not the only parent that is looking to bring a little more romance into my relationship during the new year. Don’t get me wrong, Travis and I have a great relationship. We love each other, we communicate well with each other, we have fun and laugh, but since having the two little kids our bedroom relationship hasn’t been all that it should be. That is why this last weekend I headed out to Walmart and picked up K-Y® YOURS+MINE  to add a little spice in the bedroom.

    Turning up the heat in the bedroom isn’t the only way to bring back some romance. Here are a few more steps you can take to get in sync with your spouse and bring back the romance.

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    Go on a date- Travis and I used to never go on dates. It’s not that we didn’t want to but we had kids, work, a house to take care of- and we just didn’t make the time for the two of us. But my mom finally suggested that her and my dad would come over once a month and watch the kids to we could get out of the house for a few hours. We made it a goal not to spend the entire time talking about the kids, work and house. I have to say, it’s been great. We have great conversation, try new restaurants that we hadn’t before, go to concerts and do wine tastings.

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    Do things apart from one another- While we both enjoy our date nights and our time together (like our upcoming trip to Hawaii!) it’s important to do things apart from each other as well. Travis loves to fish and he spends two weeks each Fall off hunting with his dad. He has very limited phone service and I usually only talk to him ever few days.  I’ve done some scrapbook retreats/ concert weekends with my friends, and I sew and participate in a book club- and while I look forward to our time apart and the things that I can accomplish while he is away, I’m always looking forward to him coming home after just a few days.

    Touch- Even outside the bedroom doors, touching is important. One of my favorite things is hold Travis’ hand when we are walking into a store, or down the street, or just sitting on the couch.  Cuddling while watching a movie, wrapped up in a blanket, and kisses don’t have to be long and deep to be passionate. When you go to bed, try to touch. Whether is be cuddled up, or just your feet. – This is one I need to work on. When I am ready to sleep I’m like, “You stay on your side, I’ll stay on mine”.

    Be on the same team- Be supportive of each other, be kind to each other. Don’t call names, always use manners, don’t generalize, or interrupt, don’t cuss and don’t keep secrets. After all, you are in this together. You are much more likely to feel romantic and more connected if you have a positive relationship.

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    Focus on all your spouse does do- I know it is easy to point out how many diapers you’ve changed in a row, or how they never do the laundry! I know I’m guilty! But instead try to focus on how hard they work at their job. Focus on how they keep the cars kept up and safe, or how they read the same stories to your daughter, three times in a row, before bed. I know you do a lot, but remember that so do they- and that is pretty sexy!

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    I know sometimes putting romance in your life with little ones isn’t easy. Believe me, Summer slept with us for over a year and that doesn’t exactly scream ROMANCE! So head to Walmart and pick up your own KY Yours + Mine.

    Starting in January you can get a 1 free meal for two people from PEACHDISH.com delivered to your door for an intimate night of cooking together, a $5 VUDU movie credit for you to stream right at home and the pleasure of K-Y Yours+Mine Couples Lubricants. (A $50 Value!) Perfect for a date night in!

    Not comfortable picking it up in the store? Grab one HERE!

    KY Yours+Mine

    And here is a little bonus tip: Shut off the tv! I am terrible about this. I watch tv, or catch up on old shows online once the kids go to bed. We’ve been trying to shut the tv off and play cards lately. It’s so nice to sit and talk while doing an activity rather than sitting on the couch not saying much (or anything) to each other.

    For more great ways to improve your relationship in the New Year, visit K-Y.com.

    What do you do to keep the romance going in your relationship?

     

  • 2014 Recap of the year that was

    If you’ve been following my blog at all you already know that there is no way to sugar coat this, so I’m just going to say it. 2014 has been the worst year of my life. I’m over it. I’m tired of hearing people say, and seeing the facebook posts about how wonderful 2014 has been. It actually makes me want to punch the next person that says it. (But I won’t really resort to violence) And knowing that just because we go to bed one night and wake up with it being a new year doesn’t help. So now that I’ve brought us all down, let’s take a look at what we did this year. (We really did try to make the best of it- it was just low key)

    January- Watched the snow fall, built forts out of blankets and couch cushions daily.January

    February-  Zachary graduated from DARE, Summer was a cheeseball, our Seahawks won the SUPERBOWL, I turned 31, and Tyler was feeling lovey for Valentine’s Day.

    February

    March- We celebrated St. Patrick’s Day, I finished my first quilt, and had a little at home party for Travis’ 30th birthday since mom and all three kids were super sick with colds!

    March

    April- We celebrated the birth of a new nephew, my mom had open heart surgery, we had a low key Easter, my family’s life was flipped upside down when my mom suddenly passed away and we had very low key cupcakes for Zachary’s 12th birthday.

    April

    May- We had a Memorial Day BBQ with friends, Zachary did Track & Field, Summer had her first “cone”, we ran our annual 12k race, and celebrated my dad’s birthday with a low key pie- that he made himself.

    May

    June- Zachary had his last day of 6th grade (and elementary school) and had a graduation ceremony, we went strawberry picking, I got a much needed hair cut and color, we got a new table, computer and car! Trav and I also enjoyed a much needed date night.

    June

    July- We started the month by heading to Montana for the 4th but half way there we had to turn around and come home because our dog was having an issue with her ear. We ended up taking her to the emergency vet in the middle of the night when we got home where she had surgery! We had to keep a close eye on her and stuck around the house the rest of the month. We played in the blow up pool, celebrated my Aunt’s birthday, went to Silverwood and made crayon candles. (which was a fail, btw!)

    July

    August- We had some crazy storms that blew down a 150 year old tree at my parents house, flattening many others as well as tons of homes. We got a new swing set, played with Papa almost everyday, Trav and I had a date night, we made a ton of lumber out of just one of the trees that blew down, played outside a ton and finally made it to Montana to see my father in law. The boys went fishing and Tyler caught his very first fish, all on his own, but wouldn’t touch it! And I got to see Bruno Mars!

    August

    September- We went for lots of runs with the new cart Papa found for us at a yard sale! Lots more playing outside, Summer turned 2, and Zachary started 7th grade!

    September

    October- Tyler started preschool, We had a joint “Farm” party for Tyler and Summer’s birthdays, I tried to make a cow cake, Travis and I ran our first 1/2 marathon, we went to the pumpkin patch, saw Thomas the Train, went to our local “zoo” and saw lots of Lions, Tigers and Bears, Oh my! And Tyler officially turned 4!

    October

    November- Tyler went to his friends “Cowgirl” party and rode a pony, Summer dressed like a fisherman with all of her girlie accessories, We made home made applesauce, Tyler’s new bedroom was finished enough to move in, and we hosted Thanksgiving with mine and Travis’ family combined.

    November

    December- We made a Christmas count down, saw Santa, and while the little two were very uncertain- no one cried! Tyler had his first Christmas program, we made gingerbread houses with family, Tyler fell on Christmas Eve and split his forehead open, ending with 8 stitches. Santa came and we enjoyed a nice Christmas at home.

    December

    New Year’s Eve is just a day away and after the year we’ve had, we are staying home and keeping it…. you guessed it…. Low Key!

  • Mini Snickers Cheesecakes

    It is officially Winter in my area- We’ve finally got snow over the weekend, and now it’s super cold and everything is frozen so I think it is sticking  for a while. Before it got too cold I bundled up the kids to have a little play time out in the snow, sledding, going down the slide and a little shoveling. They were loving it! Typically this time of year we are already covered in snow and it was a little sad to have no snow for Christmas. But nothing else has gone according to my plans this year, so why not that too! Anyway, lets talk about these Mini Snickers Cheesecakes.

    I found this recipe for Mini Snickers Cheesecakes on Pinterest, and since I’ve been on a bit of a cheesecake run this year I wanted to give them a try. They are supposed to make 32 and there is no way I want 32 of these little babies sitting around my house so I made them and took them to my sister in law’s cookie exchange.

    When you first are baking them they puff up a bit, but don’t you worry, they’ll go back down!

    These cupcake size cheesecakes are perfect for a few delicious bites. But you know what else I did? Since I only have 2 cupcake pans that hold 12 each, I used my mini cupcake pan that holds 24 and I made a batch in those too. I didn’t take a picture but they looked just like these, except that they were bite size. That almost could be more dangerous because you can just pop them in one at a time!

    For the crust:
    2 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
    6 tbsp.  butter, melted
    3 tbsp. sugar

    For the filling:
    2 lbs. cream cheese, at room temperature
    1½ cups sugar
    Pinch of salt
    1 tsp. vanilla extract
    4 large eggs, at room temperature

    For the topping:
    caramel sauce
    chocolate sauce
    Snickers bars, cut up into small pieces

    Preheat the oven to 325˚ F.  Line cupcake pans with paper liners.  In a bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, melted butter and sugar.  Stir together with a fork until well blended and all the dry ingredients are moistened. Press 1 tablespoon of the mixture into the bottom of each cupcake liner.  (I used one of those wooden tart pressers) Bake until set, 5 minutes.  Set aside.

    To make the cheesecake, beat the cream cheese on medium-high speed in the bowl of an electric mixer until fluffy. Blend in the sugar until smooth.  Mix in the salt and vanilla.  Beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition.

    To assemble, spoon 3 tablespoons of the cheesecake batter over the crust in each cupcake liner.

    Bake until the filling is set, about 22 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through baking.  Let them cool completely and then transfer to the refrigerator and let chill for at least 4 hours before serving.

    When you are ready to eat, just drizzle cheesecakes with caramel and chocolate syrup and top with cut up pieces of Snickers.

    They were a total hit and I loved them so much that I made them for dessert when we went to my husband’s aunt’s house for Christmas eve dinner. I guess I have a new favorite!

    I have to say that these are so unbelievably easy to make. Almost too easy! The biggest thing is giving yourself enough time for them to sit in the fridge for 4 hours before eating! But you don’t regret it…. Well…. Actually, you might if you love cheesecake!