Do it for Diana

Spreading smiles, one small act at a time

Do It For Diana 2015




It was another great daddy/ daughter date at Jordan Creek in West Des Moines!

We kicked it off by Dad having his first ever Starbucks……


… and with gifting an unsuspecting mom (out with her little one) a gift card to enjoy the same!10475970_10153086851001660_411515732180378549_o

Next stop was a movie….. The Wedding Ringer
We were getting nervous as we were the ONLY people in the theater up until a few minutes before showtime.
Good movie though…… This helped us with the “laugh” portion of our day 🙂



Next stop was our annual pilgrimage to The Cheesecake Factory…
This is the last place mom and I ate together on our last “girls day out” and holds such a special place in my heart.
Within minutes of being seated, a familiar face came to our table…..
Waiter Garrett, who served us exactly one year ago on our Daddy/ Daughter Date for Do It For Diana 2014.
HOW CRAZY IS THAT?????!?!?!?
Even better is the fact that he remembered us AND still has his “Do It For Diana” card that he was given last year.


With Garrett’s help, we were able to buy a meal for a
mother/ daughter duo who were out enjoying their day together.
It brought so much joy to my heart as he told us who he had found and described them to us!  

Later that evening, I found this on my Facebook newsfeed and am so humbled and excited to share it with you:

Had the most wonderful experience today and hoping my daughter learned something.After eating lunch, the waitress came back with our check and said it was taken care of.  A lady noticed Emma and I were having a mother daughter day and wanted it to be special.  She lost her mom in 2011 and missed having lunch and mother daughter day, she wanted us to be aware of how special our time is together.
People are really amazing and I am truly blessed. ‪#‎doitfordiana‬‪#‎payitforward

Unfortunately, the snow storm in Iowa cut our day short.  Dad and I went our different directions and he was able to make it back to Southeastern Iowa without any problems, and we made it back to Minnesota with minimal snow along our route.  Here, Eric had one last surprise for me……


The hotel clerk looked at me a little weird when I checked into the Eden Prairie hotel… With my drivers license stating that I lived in EDEN PRAIRIE 🙂  After we got passed the weirdness from that, I settled in with wine, chocolate and my “mom journal,” and had a relaxing night reminiscing and remembering.

One last gift… In the form of 12″ of hair.


As you go about your day tomorrow, remember to spread smiles along the way…. And Do It For Diana 🙂


Do It For Diana 2014

Welcome to “Do It For Diana Day 2014”


I kicked off the weekend by updating my Mojitos & Munchkins blog with a few posts about Mom.
There is, of course, no better place to reflect than a coffee ship, sipping on my favorite vanilla latte!


Dad and I had another great day together…..
We laughed, we cried, we remembered.
We met at Jordan Creek Mall in West Des Moines, the spot where Mom & I had our last “girls day” together.


Dad chose a family (young parents with two small children) to buy lunch for…..
No meltdowns from their cute kids AND a free lunch!
What a great day for them…. And us!


This was my absolute FAVORITE part of my day…. After watching a movie with Dad, I bought a gift card to the theater and chose a family (mom/ dad/ college-aged daughter) to give it to. In our conversation, I discovered the mom I handed the card to had just lost her mother a month ago, she is also an elementary school teacher, and was herself from a small town in Iowa just like me. CRAZY!! It was all meant to be….. Right up until the moment she told me they were Cyclone fans and I jokingly grabbed the card back out of her hands! HA! Mom definitely had her hand in helping me pick someone. Very cool experience!


One last “Do It For Diana” gift to share….. Scratch Cupcakery!


My super special hubby surprised me with a hotel room for the night.
What working Mom EVER gets time to herself??
He told me to think about it as one of my many “girl’s weekend get aways” with my Mom.
I may not have her, but the memories are strong and it’s a great night to REMEMBER….

… to JOURNAL, enjoy cupcakes & wine….


… and soak in a bath with chocolate, Starbucks & a good book!


Love you, Mom!!


Surviving the Loss of My Mom

If I allow myself the quiet time to close my eyes and think, I can go back to my place in the world three years ago.  The ICU doctors scrambling… The many tubes, machines, IV’s, and medical personal that littered my mom’s body… The uncertainty in my dad’s voice… The fear in my heart…. The feeling that everyone with a stethoscope around their neck knew something that they weren’t yet sharing… The introduction to words like “sepsis,” “system failure,” and “bacterial meningitis…”  Who would have ever guessed there would be a disease I could hate more than cancer??  As horrific as everything was in those dark hours, I was at peace being near my mom.  I remember hating how cold her hands were… I remember confidently knowing that whatever had suddenly consumed her body would be squelched by her fight for life, just as it had with each of her three cancer battles… I remember the moment that I realized I could be wrong about this confidence.  I remember pleading with her to live because selfishly I couldn’t exist without her.  I remember the single tear that fell from her right eye after my pleas….. As if she was telling me that she couldn’t stay no matter how much she wanted to.
I spent the night of February 1, 2011 holding my mother’s blackened hand…. Hoping for an answer, praying for a miracle, and spiraling into a sadness I never knew possible.  Tonight, as the moments draw closer to the anniversary of that dreadful day, I am spending the night alone.  Alone with my thoughts, alone with my feelings, alone yet very much surrounded by the love and memories of my wonderful mother.  Today I have journaled, I have cried, I have remembered.  Today I made new memories with my dad that I would never have made if this momma’s girl still had her momma!!
Tonight, I am thinking about my three young children, thinking about how they are healthy and innocent in this crazy world.  I  know in my heart how blessed I am to have so many people keeping me in their thoughts and rallying behind my difficult days.  Next week marks the fourth anniversary of my beautiful mother’s arrival in Heaven…. Which makes it the fourth anniversary of my journey of living without “my person” on this earth.  I have steadfastly hated every day without her, have struggled to enjoy moments that should have made me blissfully happy, have been afforded the unfortunate opportunity of understanding just how precious life is, and have been blasted with the knowledge that perspective is everything.
I often find myself feeling silenced.  Who do you turn to when the one person you’ve relied on for 29 years has vanished?  How can you replace someone you never wanted to lose?  I’ve cried to family and friends, sought counseling, logged a billion hours journaling at coffee shops with unknowing patrons awkwardly pretending to ignore my sobs.  I’ve traded in my drive time phone calls with Mom for silent nail biting (I STILL can’t figure out what to do with my hands now that I can’t hold her to my ear!).  I’ve switched from traditional scrapbooking (a hobby I have enjoyed with Mom since I was in Kindergarten) for digital scrapbooking (no emotional connections to hold me back AND I can’t drench the computer screen with tears like I do the real paper!).  Rather than keeping current on my original blog knowing that my mom would be the first one to read my entries, I have neglected it.  Instead of calling my mom with a quick complaint or joy, I find myself randomly throwing my thoughts to the Facebook universe just to get them off of my chest and for lack of better option.  Milestones made by my children are met with quick happiness… Followed by painful and quiet sadness.  Can things really be as exciting if I can’t share that excitement with the one person besides me who would cherish it most?
I hate that my kids are going to grow up with a jaded mommy who suspects lymphoma if they get a bug bite, who thinks a cough could be meningitis, or who thinks a flu bug could be salmonella poisoning?  How is that fair to my kids??  And yet can anyone blame me??  I first learned about death when Jessica Greene, a 1st grade best friend, was killed in a sledding accident.  I was introduced to the word “cancer” when I was 7 years old because my mom was diagnosed for the first time.  I learned what a heart attack was when I was 9 years old because my Grandpa Cary died of one.  I learned about “remission” later that same year thanks to mom’s second battle.  I’ve said goodbye to classmates and friends, grandparents and family members, and babies that I would grow inside of me yet never get to hold.  Am I a pessimist or simply realistic?  I tell myself the latter.  I so badly wish that I could go back to the naivety that comes from living a life of lollipops and rainbows, gum drops and unicorns.  A life where all babies are born full term and healthy, and where everyone lives until they are old and gray and crossed every last item off of their bucket list.  Or perhaps I do live that life?  Despite saying goodbye to babies that I never got to hold, I get to hear the laughter of my three healthy children everyday.  Despite losing my amazing mom at the young age of 52, I shudder to think  the woman I might have become had I not grown up with her as my role model.  If I had lost her when she was first diagnosed with cancer – At the age of 30 – I would be a completely different person.  Despite any sadness I am feeling, there are a countless number of people in the world that are suffering in ways I can’t even fathom.
Next week, as I do every week, I will wake up with sadness over the memories of all that I have lost, but remind myself to feel blessed for all that I have and have been given.  Tomorrow I will get out of bed and start my day, just as I have the last 1,460 days.  Tomorrow I will make new memories with my children and give them a chance to love their momma as much I love mine.  Tomorrow I will make new memories in my world and try to live each second making my momma proud.
I miss you every second, Mom.
Mojitos and Munchkins Logo-006


Grief is….

Grief is a roller coaster.  It twists and turns through your body, leaving you exhausted and curious wondering what you will feel next.  It is unpredictable, for you never know when you will experience the slow incline up, full of anticipation of what lies ahead in life.  Likewise, you never know when you might creak your way onto a bend for which you are sure you will not survive the ride.


Sometimes, it feels like a pit in your stomach.  You can’t accurately predict what message this “pit” is trying to send your way.  It starts like an “I might be hungry” pit but you feel as though you never want to eat again.  Then it morphs into a “my high school boyfriend just broke up with me” pit and you remember how you were devastated at the time.  Oh, how you wish you could go back to that kind of “devastation.”  You wish you had never been exposed to the truth – That that wasn’t devastation at all and it now sucks to know the true meaning of the word.

Sometimes, it feels like the worst headache you’ve ever experienced.  Imagine your worst hangover…. Then double it.  Imagine a sinus headache after weeks of coughing and sneezing… Then triple it.  Imagine that dull, achy headache you get after staying up too long trying to finish a deadline for work… Only imagine it a lot more intense and lasting a lot longer…. Like a lifetime.  You see, it isn’t a headache at all.  This “headache” is your new brain.  Your new brain trying in vain to navigate each and every day of your new life without that person whom you love.  Your new brain is trying to adjust to living with this lifelong ailment, disability, truth.

On happier days,  it sometimes looks like singing along with the radio in the car at full volume…. And feeling so proud that you finally can.  Life is good!  I’m singing along to the radio!  Then, all of a sudden, you come to the top peak of your roller coaster and slam into a wall of guilt.  How can you sing along to the radio when someone you love isn’t here??  How can you celebrate life when life has been pulled out from under you??  My suggestion:  Accept the guilt.  Accept the brief happiness.  Enjoy the moment.

I woke up this morning with a headache so intense, I had to ask myself how much I drank last night?  Is my stomach saying it’s hungry?  Is it saying I might be sick?  Oh, no… That’s right.  Now it’s coming back to me.  My stomach and my head are both telling me my mom is STILL dead.  It’s a crazy thing, this grief.  I feel like I am Bill Murray starring in the movie Groundhog Day… I know how each day will begin and yet I still have to go through the motions of reliving my reality.  Now that I have ONCE AGAIN been reminded of my daily reality, I will myself out of bed.  Only now, in this new life of living with grief, it is more difficult.  It is no longer an act of hearing my alarm and willing myself not to feel sleepy.  It is now an act of hearing my alarm and willing myself to ONCE AGAIN accept my truth and still decide to begin my day.  What’s that?  You can’t relate?  Oh, you must not be able to share in my level of grief.  Perhaps you are further along in your own grief journey.  Perhaps you haven’t experienced grief in this magnitude.  Perhaps you process things differently, as we all do.  Perhaps I need to improve in my own mental stability?  Here is what I have learned about grief.  It is an awkward thing for everyone.  Some people offer to sit by you in the roller coaster because they so badly want to do something to help you get through the ride.  They will gladly hold your hand, hug you through it, and offer words of encouragement in many forms.  Others passively sit by the ticket booth, watching from afar.  They’d like to help you, but how??  Others see you weaving through the starting gate and bolt in the opposite direction of the theme park…. STAY AWAY FROM THE CRAZY PERSON!  What if she cries?  What if she yells?  What if she doesn’t say anything at all??

To all those who have sat beside me on the roller coaster, who have watched and wondered from the ticket booth, and for those who have simply walked to another ride…. Thank you.

I am about to embark on the fourth anniversary of my mom’s passing.  I continue to be securely strapped into my roller coaster seat.

broken heart




(Roller coaster image from HDWallpaper.  Broken Heart graphic from Psych Central.)

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