Hope

I have backspaced the first sentence of this post at least ten times. Struggling to find the perfect  right way to begin…

My Mom was diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer about a year ago. Those of you who have been following me along, know that she also battles Multiple Sclerosis. I will never forget when she called me to tell me the news, that they had found a lump, and it was cancer. My first reaction: “Are you f****** kidding me?!” As if she hadn’t been through enough… What stage? How bad is this? Is it curable? Will you need a mastectomy? Will  you need chemotherapy? What is the prognosis? All questions we didn’t have answers to.

I remember going to her first appointment to meet with the surgeon and watching my Mom process the information. Trying to hold myself together to be strong for her, but falling apart as I watched her fall apart. Helpless. That’s how I felt.

Everything moved fairly quickly, and she was scheduled for a lumpectomy in June. Ultimately it was her decision as to whether she wanted a lumpectomy or a mastectomy, and the surgeon was confident that her prognosis would be the same if she chose to have the lumpectomy.

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She was such a trooper and my sisters and I were so proud of her.

Soon after, we received the results from the lumpectomy and the news wasn’t what we were hoping for. They had found a second lump during the surgery and the samples taken from nearby lymph nodes revealed the cancer had spread. This meant she would require both chemotherapy and radiation. This was sort of a worst case scenario in a sense. The doctors ,including the oncologist didn’t know how chemotherapy would affect her MS or how her MS would impact the chemotherapy. The oncologist actually said she had never come across a patient requiring chemotherapy who also had active MS. My reaction to this, yet again, “Are you f****** kidding me?!” So we just wing it, cross our fingers and hope for the best? This is what I wanted to shout at the oncologist as she told my Mom this, but I bit my tongue and listened to what she DID know.

My Mom started chemotherapy in September. Over the course of six months, she would receive two different types of chemotherapy. The first: AC (doxorubicin and cyclophosphamide), would be once every three weeks and the second: Paclitaxel, once a week. She lost her hair almost immediately. I think that was harder than she thought it would be. She told me she wanted to shave it, she didn’t want to see it fall out in clumps anymore. That night I went and bought a buzzer and went and shaved her head myself. To this day I am glad I did this for her.

The chemo was hard on her. She was quite ill, extremely exhausted, and her immune system was severely compromised. She didn’t leave the house for six months, unless it was to go to the hospital. Even something as simple as me bringing the kids by for a visit was limited, as the winter months brought many illnesses our way. Even the common cold could pose a real danger to her.

After six long months, she finally rang the bell at the cancer centre, signifying she had received her last chemotherapy treatment. I will never forget that sound…

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She started her radiation almost immediately and we knew she was in the home stretch. All scans came back clear indicating the cancer was gone and she was in remission. We all breathed a HUGE sigh of relief.

Last Friday, my Mom completed her last session of radiation (the treatment lasted 6 weeks, 5 days a week). I cannot begin to imagine the relief she felt walking out of the hospital that day. A fight that lasted almost a year, and a fight that will last a lifetime.

A hero is defined as “a person admired for courage”. My Mom is my hero. There is no stronger person than her, and I have never been more proud of her, than I am today.

To all of those out there fighting the battle, stay strong and never give up hope, you’re not alone.

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H. xo

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A Look Back: A Gold and Pink Party for Everly

So this post is beyond late. Like 6 months late. Everly will be 2.5 years old on January 30th, so I figured it was time I share her 2nd birthday party with you. It’s so late on account of all the things that had been going on that kept me from blogging. Better late than never right?

For her second birthday, I decided to do a gold and pink theme, with a little bit of sparkle. She is such a little girly girl I thought it would be a perfect fit for her. I had so much fun planning all of the little details. It’s easy to say that now that I can look back on it and smile; but maybe if you had asked me at 1:30am the morning of, I may have said something else as I iced 60 cupcakes in my kitchen…

We decided to rent a hall for her party because we were expecting quite a few guests, I didn’t want to chance it incase it rained which would leave us cramming people into our house. (It’s a good thing we did, because it was pouring rain the day of her party.)

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Her birthday banner I made myself (I purchased the card stock from Michaels, as well as the gold polka-dot wallpaper.) The tassels I made myself. Each one is a single sheet of tissue paper. They were a little time-consuming to make (only because I needed quite a few of them), but they turned out great.

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The cake pops I purchased from Starbucks – they are a little pricey but the kids LOVED them. The pink cotton candy jelly beans I purchased from bulk barn. The cotton candy I purchased from a local business owner, it came in the containers and was around $1.50 per tub. Again, these were a huge hit with the kids. I added the gold sparkle tape around the tubs, which I purchased on clearance from Michaels. The chalk board easel I also purchased from Michaels, and the carnations were a pretty touch. The cupcakes I made myself, and dusted them all with some edible gold sparkles. I am really happy with how they turned out (well worth the effort – again, easy to say now).

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The loot bags and tags I purchased on clearance at Michaels and filled them with little trinkets from Dollarama. The sand buckets were for the littlest ones. The princess rendition of “pin the tail on the donkey” was also purchased from the dollar store.

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I tried to buzz around as much as possible to take pictures of all of the guests and kids playing together – it’s times like that I could really use a clone…

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How sweet is she?! I think my little cupcake had a great party.

Kitchen Desk Organization

Having a desk in the kitchen has both perks and downfalls. Lately, the one in my kitchen has become a major source of clutter and junk collection. Everything from a radio, to a laptop, to notes from Maxton’s school, to mail – you name it. It’s so easy to just toss things and go which often leaves me in a mad panic in the morning as I search for Maxton’s milk envelope, permission slip, or my cheque book. There is no designated “office” in the house, so that doesn’t help matters.

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Horrible, right? Well I decided it was time to organize this small space. As you can see, there isn’t a whole lot to work with. The desk is in between the counter, and the floor to ceiling pantry-cupboards so it’s not a true office desk, and I wanted to be careful to not stray away too much from the kitchen-feel. Here is what I came up with:

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Like I said, nothing much, but it has made a world of difference. I’m not a huge fan of having the radio/iPad dock there, but it comes in handy and I use the radio every day.

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I picked this up at Home Sense for $19.99 and thought it was a real steal. I loved the colour and the overall design. Each slot sits at a different height to hold various types of paper.

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This letter sorter I also got at Home Sense for $7.99! It was a great deal and I love the colour and pattern. It adds a nice pop of colour to this corner.

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I needed something to hold a few pens and a pair of scissors so I just used a mason jar that I already had.

Nothing too fancy, just a little organization for under $30. 2016 may just be my year to organize!

 

Mini Cheesecakes

If you’re looking for a quick and easy recipe for a delicious dessert for a party or get together, this recipe is for you!

I absolutely love cheesecake and have a few different recipes for it, from cherry to blueberry to lemon to chocolate swirl, but this is by far the easiest.

I like to use this recipe for mini cheesecakes, but you can tweak it and use it for a large one.

These were a huge hit at our New Year’s Eve party a few weeks ago.

Mini Cheesecake Recipe

2 cups of graham cracker crumbs

5 tbsp sugar

6 tbsp of butter or margarine, melted

6 8oz packages of cream cheese (don’t try to save calories and use light cream cheese, you will lose the rich flavour)

1.5 cups of sugar

2 1/2 tsp of vanilla

6 eggs

Heat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit and line muffin tin with paper liners.

Mix the graham cracker crumbs, 5 tbsp of sugar and the butter or margarine in a bowl. Press the mixture into the paper liners (approximately one heaping tbsp – depends how thick of a cookie base you would like).

Beat the cream cheese, remaining 1.5 cups of sugar and vanilla in an electric mixer until smooth. Add eggs one at a time at low-speed.

Scoop the mixture over the graham cracker crust (until muffin cup is almost full).

Bake 25 min or until the cheesecake centers are almost set. Cool completely and refrigerate for several hours.

This makes approximately 36 mini cheesecakes. You can half the recipe for less.

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Now when it comes to cheesecake, you have many topping options. You can leave them plain or top them with whipped cream, fresh fruit, a dollop of cherry filling, lemon zest or a combination of things.

I chose to top mine with some whipped cream (so easy to do, 35% whipping cream and a little sugar) and some fresh blueberries. I really wanted to use raspberries but they are costing a fortune these days.

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I didn’t have a chance to snap the best picture of them, I did a quick one with my iPhone before the party but they turned out great and tasted even better!

Enjoy!

Danica’s Scarves Review

Before Christmas I was on the hunt for a nice blanket scarf. I was chatting with a girlfriend of mine and she had mentioned a local business that sells a variety of blanket scarves for a great price.

I decided to check out her Facebook page and loved the patterns I saw. This one caught my eye right away and I contacted her immediately. She was quick to reply and had the one I selected in stock, I was able to pick it up the next day. (She is seconds away from my daughter’s daycare so it worked out.)

This is the one I chose:

(Photo credit: Danica's Scarves)

(Photo credit: Danica’s Scarves)

I loved all of the colours in this pattern and thought it would be perfect for spring, winter and fall.

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This scarf is keeping me warm these days with the -10 degree Celsius weather we have been having.

Check out her website, Danica’s Scarves for her selection, as well as some of her other products.

Enter the promo code “mamasbabysteps” at checkout for $5 off your blanket scarf order from now until January 31, 2016.

Happy shopping readers!