The End of a Chapter

Good Monday morning! I’ve been doing some thinking over the last several weeks about my little space here. I have always maintained that I wanted to blog for the sake of inspiring and helping others. I have genuinely loved sharing our meals, creations, lives, our sweet babies, our triumphs and struggles as the blogging community has shown me a great deal of love and compassion. But pretty often now I feel a lack of inspiration. I never want to dread writing a post, and while I’m very proud of my content, I acknowledge it’s pretty redundant. I also want to be protective of us and be perhaps a little more cautious about what I share.

While I didn’t think last Friday’s post would be my last official one, I think that’s almost better. I just gave it thought and realized I would like to close this chapter for now. Who knows if I may ever restart it. Never say never. I want to thank everyone for choosing to make my blog a part of your day. Comments on here and messages that people have sent stating how much my words have helped at times meant the world to me. Sometimes we forget just how much we can help others even with just a simple act of sharing a post.

I want to wish everyone well, and again, thank you for all of your support!

Friday Finds + Favorites!

The weather finally feels like spring again! Well, a bit like summer if we want to be technical, but anything is better than the cold snap we experienced. I have saved up some things I’ve been enjoying lately, and I hope they prove to be interesting and inspiring to you!

First up is this delicious apricot syrup by Kodiak Cakes. I’m a member of their RD Program, and they send me samples to try and review. Matt and I think this is like a thinned jam that can be drizzled over pancakes, waffles, oatmeal, oatmeal muffins, in dressings, etc. It’s full of flavor!

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For breakfast on Wednesday, I had half a baked sweet potato with Fage TruBlend Vanilla yogurt, cinnamon, tahini, whole meal ground flax, hemp hearts, and the apricot syrup. It was an awesome combo! It made me think of Mack and her love of sweet potatoes for breakfast. 🙂

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They also sent these buttermilk pancake boxes that I’ve been giving out to family and friends to spread the Kodiak Cakes cheer!

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I found these Canyon Bakehouse GF English muffins at Wal-Mart of all places, and while they aren’t technically English muffins in texture, they’re very good! They’re more like an English muffin-hamburger bun hybrid, if that makes sense.

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I made Alexis’ Fluffy Orange Muffins after work on Monday, and all I can say is make these as soon as you can!! I substituted with Bob’s Red Mill one-for-one GF flour, and they are phenomenal. I enjoyed my first one with her healthy cream cheese frosting, and it tasted like a delicate, special wedding cake. So good!

On Monday morning, I decided to enjoy the last of our Adopo Pizza appetizer for breakfast along with an over easy egg. I had a grapefruit half with cinnamon on the side, and this breakfast was so good!

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Dr. Praeger’s Black Bean Quinoa burgers are one of my fav go-to’s. So good! We had them with a huge salad full of color and flavor. I had poppyseed dressing plus blue corn chips.

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I love trying new products, and something I find fascinating is all the creative ways to consume legumes. Something to note, though is that even if you like this type of product, legume-based pasta, and cauliflower rice for example, it does not mean you are engaging in disordered or dieting behaviors. The key is to not feel afraid of  or restrict the original foods. If we have cauliflower rice, we also add a carb source to the meal. Just a little tidbit of info to ensure my thoughts behind choosing some products is from a curiousity, having-fun-in-the-kitchen mentality. 🙂

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Speaking of delish carbs, I wanted to get a facnier rice, and this sounded like it fit the bill! I love rice medleys.

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We enjoy everything from poultry and meat to seafood and vegetarian. I thought this sounded so good and would make for a quick meal one weeknight.

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I splurged on this half roundbrush to see if it would help my not-a-pixie-not-yet-a-bob hairdo. Ha! It added some more volume and brought out the layers so far as I could tell.

Kaci kindly let me borrow her Not Perfect Linen MAMA dress, and it was so comfy and fun! I just love their flow-y clothes.

Fresenius Kidney Care provided a t-shirt for us all to show our “FKC Strong” pride. I wore mine with my black pixie pants and my silk neck scarf to add a little retro vibes.

I ordered these products to help with pesky hairs and am hoping they are effective!

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I ordered this digital pet feeder for Jackson in the hopes that it would help him to eat his meals throughout the day rather than having to wait until we get home to have his food. Plus he wakes us early some mornings, so we’re hoping he’ll understand that he will be fed at a set time. Poor Jax just doesn’t have great hunger/fullness cues that I attribute to him not being weaned properly. Figuring out the settings has been tricky, and we felt he would probably be the first cat to break into it given how much he dug at it and nearly flipped it over! He could smell the food, so we felt bad that it was like a tease. We’re hoping this routine will work for us all. I’ll try to report back after giving it more time!

I wish you all the very best Friday and weekend ahead!! Please pop in and share any fun finds in the comments!

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Friday Fav • or • ites

I’m here for another round of Friday Favorites! We’re leaving for Ohio for a fun-filled race weekend, and we’re really excited! I love weekend getaways, and Matt has been itching to hit the track.

I finally got my paws on one of The Pioneer Woman’s frozen food items! They looked awesome for a morning when you want savory but are low on time. I tried them with toast topped with Greek cream cheese and honey along with a local peach. So. Good. Funny story: I was planning to top my cream cheese with jam, but I was SUCH a klutz and dropped the glass jar. Jam and glass everywhere. I just stood there and stared at it. Between Matt dropping our maple and then this, we clearly have slippery fingers in the morning. Womp womp.

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Some people don’t like the texture of Triscuit crackers or shredded wheat, but the texture is one of the reasons I love them. I love the braided wheat, and these Triscuit Thin Crisps are a little more delicate or light. I love this flavor! Savory with a hint of sweet.

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While we always keep tubs of plain Greek yogurt on hand, it’s nice to have single-serve flavored yogurts at times. I saw these new flavors from Chobani that practically threw themselves into my cart. 😉

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All about that herbal tea in the evening! Cinnamon and lavender are two of my favorite flavors, so to combine them sounded like the perfect idea. I’ve really been enjoying this and recommend it!

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So because I accidentally wasted our jam, I bought us a new jar and decided to try this new product by Smucker’s. We tried it and both love it!

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Has anyone tried this apple variety? I thought they sounded fun, and I’ve enjoyed a few. The skin seems a tad chewy, but they do have a nice flavor. I’m not sure I’d go as far as to call it a “tropical twist”, but if anyone has tried them, please let me know your thoughts! Also, Jackson standing on his tippy toes for Rachel’s food on the counter kills me!

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I used the last of our jarred organic vegetable pasta sauce in this dish with local roasted eggplant/red pepper/zucchini and GF elbow noodles. The noodles were made with brown rice and flax seed, and they were delicious! Unfortunately, I cooked them pretty well, but as the leftovers sat in the sauce, they cooked more and became overly soft. Oh well!

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Some more meal inspiration for you. “Chicken and waffles” with a twist. I toasted a ‘Thick and Fluffy’ Eggo waffle and topped it with an Aldi Mediterranean chicken burger and pickles. We enjoyed steamed peas and carrots and local tomatoes on the side. Such a fun meal!

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I finally made our Beyond Meat ‘The Beyond Burgers’, and we enjoyed them topped with pickled jalapeños and over Canyon Bakehouse Ancient Grain bread with mayo and spicy mustard. I roasted green beans and zucchini to go along with them. Interesting texture and very tasty! Different but great.

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I received a free coffee coupon from Remedy Coffee, and I was so thankful! I enjoyed it with a splash of oat milk.

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It’s located next to the Knoxville National Cemetery , and I always think it’s so interesting when I pass by.

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I used my Burt’s Bees charcoal mask one evening, and it made me think of the scene in It Takes Two where the evil step-mom creeps out the kids with her eye mask. Hahahahaha

I so need this tattooed on my arm as a reminder. So often I can get caught up in feeling less than or as though I’ve failed because something has taken longer for me to accomplish. As old as it is to hear, and I am tired of it too 😉 our home search is quite the struggle all while it feels many others find and secure a nice place. I know we’re rather specific about what we want, and the market is just crazy. For instance, we were the second couple to tour a home the day it was listed, and by the time we shared our offer, our realtor said the first couple already bought it. I wasn’t in love, so in hindsight, it was fine. But I was just frustrated by the mere fact that we can’t even think about a home and really consider all of the costs before it goes pending. Our time will come, though.

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THIS.

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Matt was working on one of his boss’s cars, and he spotted this incredible owl in a tree nearby! He text this to me during the afternoon on Thursday, and it made my day!

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Have the best weekend!

 

 

 

It Was a Triple Coffee Shop Visit Kind of Weekend

On Friday evening, I told Matt the week really zipped on by, and here we are again on a Monday morning. But I’m grateful for both the work week and weekend and all of the experiences I’m fortunate to have! I’ll just keep soaking them up as best I can.

Friday

I started the day with the last of our baked oatmeal toasted then enjoyed with yogurt, walnuts, and maple. So good!

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I couldn’t resist this filter. It seemed to go with my floral dress 90’s vibe perfectly. 😉

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I worked in Sweetwater at our Lead RD’s clinic, and I always love to explore new areas. I realized, however, that I had explored this exact place in April 2015 when I was covering a nursing home in my first job as a Long-term Care RD Consultant. So weird to reflect on alllll that has changed since then!

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Love small towns with quaint downtown shops. ❤

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Thanks to the clinic’s social worker for telling me about Cup Runneth Over Coffee, I decided to have lunch and coffee there.

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Such a cute space! Unfortunately, I had been so cold all morning that I needed to sit outside. But I wanted to enjoy their cafe. Oh well.

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Salad with chicken Marsala and a lovely cafe au lait. Such a wonderful meal!

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I made such good timing on my work and was able to stop by Barre3 on my way home to get one of their new tanks with my 10% discount. =D

Dinner was certainly one we’ll make again soon! We reheated our loaded kale tots in the oven with more cheese then enjoyed them over wilted spinach with avocado, lime, garlic oil hot sauce, and over easy egg. YUM. Love breakfast for dinner!

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Later snackage included Love Grown Chocolate Power O’s, blackberries, banana, roasted lightly salted almonds, and almond milk. I was still hungry while we were watching Elementary, so I enjoyed a few small spoonfuls of yogurt with pb and plain Cheerios. That did the trick!

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Saturday

I was really productive on Thursday and made these stellar Flourless Zucchini Muffins by Brittany that we are loving! I made them with sunflower seed butter, and they turned out beautifully.

Before baking them / baked to delicious perfection.

I enjoyed one warmed along with yogurt, chocolate sea salt granola, and blackberries. I added more granola and felt really satisfied.

Once I was finally ready, Kaci came and picked me up for a twin day! I sported my new Barre3 tank that has an 80’s Stranger Things era look to it, and I love it! “You are golden” by the brand Spiritual Gangster. 😉

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We went to Mahalo and had the best time!

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I thoroughly enjoyed their house-made chicken salad on wheat roll with black coffee.

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We twinned in our tanks and spectacles!

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❤ ❤

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We swung by Naturally a Deal Market, and they now have local produce. Such beautiful fruits and vegetables!

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I stocked up on awesome products for us.

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Then Kaci and I went on maybe an hour long walk. Neither of us took our phones or allowed ourselves to be distracted by them. I’m working on making a conscious effort to regulate my social media usage, and it felt so nice to be connected and truly engaged.

I went by Wal-Mart with her then she had to leave to get ready for her nephew’s birthday party. I drove to West Knox to pick up our sunflower field prints, and I’m so happy to have them! I finally am beginning to fill this pretty album that Matt surprised me with.

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For some reason, several of the prunes from this container accidentally still have a pit. Yikes! I saw this, thankfully, before biting into it, but sheesh. I tried the new sprouted sour cream and chive cashews I bought at the market.

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I roasted one of the eggplants and then simmered it with organic jarred vegetable pasta sauce I had also bought at the market during my last visit. We enjoyed it tossed with TJ’s cauliflower gnocchi and a salad on the side. We both loved this dish! I highly recommend gnocchi of any kind, but TJ’s frozen makes it even more convenient.

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We split one of the peaches I bought, and lawd, it was so good! Juicy, sweet, bright. Gosh, I finally chose great peaches. Ha! I had a slice of my strawberry swirl bread that I had frozen, so I warmed it and added pb. Perfection. We watched some of Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee then crawled into bed.

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Sunday

I woke up craving overnight oats, but problem was I hadn’t prepped them. Lolz. So I added oats, cottage cheese, and milk to our Sunbutter jar and let it sit while I washed dishes and prepped our coffee. I added blackberries and some Power O’s, and by the time I sat down to eat, the oats had softened perfectly.

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This memory warmed my whole heart!!

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I was in the mood for Barre3, so I did a wonderful workout with my own personal meow-tivator.

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It wiped her out, though!

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It was nap:thirty.

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I got myself ready, ate a Garden Lite butternut squash muffin, and I headed to Remedy Coffee. They kindly sent me a free drink voucher, but I realized it was only for drip coffee. Oh well! I’m saving it for my next visit to Skyway since I’ll pass by, and I chose to get their “Peggy Hill” special: blueberry milk topped with matcha. So darn pretty! I should’ve mixed it, though, because the matcha needed some of the milk’s sweetness. But it was refreshing. I brought a Larabar and munched on it as well.

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I swung by Kaci and Drew’s and got to see them for a little bit before doing our basically weekly Kroger grocery shopping. I saved a great deal, though and stocked up on plenty of goods!

My late snack-y lunch included black bean hummus, Sriracha cheddar, cuke, carrots, Triscuit Thins, and an apple.

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I roasted the other two eggplant, local zucchini, and the whole bell pepper. I warmed the last of our quinoa, some of the roasted vegetables, and a big spoonful of our Asian peanut butter sauce that we enjoyed over a bed of greens. We cooked Aldi edamame from frozen and topped the pods with salt. Easy peas-y meal.

Final snack of the weekend included half a local peach with Multigrain Cheerios, pb, and milk. I had some herbal tea with local honey, watched Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, then we got a nice night’s sleep.

I wish you all the very best this week! We’ll be heading to OH on Friday for a race weekend, and we’re excited!

Look for the Bare Necessities

Good Monday morning, lovely people! I hope the weekend served to fill you with happiness and excitement but also rest and relaxation.

Friday

My Friday began on a very delicious note! I first enjoyed Greek yogurt with cinnamon, banana, pb, and Love Grown Chocolate Power O’s.

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These babies!! They were so sleepy and cah-ute.

CFA uploaded a free breakfast reward on my app! I was so excited. I tried their chicken and egg white English muffin without the American cheese. I had it with their sriracha sauce, and it was superb. I do love whole eggs, but the egg whites were fluffy.

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Funny story: I left work, which is only five minutes from our place, and I tried heading across town to get a quick trim of my bangs and neckline. An 18-wheeler had apparently been involved in an awful wreck, and Matt saw me from the opposite side of the interstate as he made his way home. He called and told me to take the next exit. I was then caught in bumper-to-bumper traffic. So I ended up having to cancel and go home via back roads. So I basically went on a little scenic drive. Bahaha

I saw an Insta post by Gisela for two-minute refried bean tacos earlier in the week, and I made plans to enjoy them for Friday’s dinner. I sauteed and seasoned peppers/onion/garlic and then the rest came together quickly. We’d had a can of organic vegetarian refried beans on hand, and it worked out perfectly! We warmed and layered them on sprouted corn tortillas with freshly shredded sharp cheddar, avocado, mango habanero salsa for me, and garlic chili hot sauce. I had spinach with the sauteed veg and leftover cooked zucchini drizzled with chipotle ranch. This was a fabulous meal!

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I enjoyed Greek yogurt with frozen cherry medley, dark chocolate chips, and granola for an evening snack.

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Her face looks so smooshed and adorable!

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We watched some of The Office then crawled into bed.

Saturday

I got up early because we had a house tour at 9:00 AM. I enjoyed pear pineapple butter with Wild Friends almond cashew butter on naan. Cottage cheese for more delicious protein and a cored apple with cinnamon.

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After the tour, we came home, and I enjoyed Love Grown Chocolate Power O’s with peanuts and almond cashew milk. Matt aired up my tires since my light had come on later in the week.

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I went to Kroger for some provisions then came home and whipped up this fabulous lunch. Spinach, peppers/onion/garlic, shredded zucchini, canned corn, and an Aldi mushroom risotto veg burger all heated then topped with chipotle ranch, avocado, and an over easy egg. YUM. Side note: I tried on some clothes and like a moron, I lost my favorite leather cuff with the babies’ name stamped on it! One of my best friends who I ordered it through contacted the maker of it to order a new one. She messaged to tell me, and I was beyond grateful! Although I still hope it is found.

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I had a date and prune with tahini and then this mug of Celestial Seasonings chai with espresso that I sweetened with manuka honey and splashed in milk. It’s not my favorite tea, but I needed a little pick-me-up.

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Kaci came over and after spending some time at the house with the babies together, we headed to Cruze Farm! We split their Greek salad to start. Kaci took this photo as well as the one below of our pizza. She rocks the portrait setting!

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Then we enjoyed the main dish: Tandoori chicken pizza. I mean, hello flavor town! I enjoyed more than my arbitrary two slice serving, and it hit. the. spot.

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Cruze’s January theme is, “Ice Cream from Around the World”. How cool is that?!

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We tried their Stracciatella, which is fabulous. We split their saffron cardamom, which is one of my favorite flavors ever!

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They had Disney’s Jungle Book as their drive-in movie, and Kaci and I absolutely loved watching it! Our mom told us when we were younger that it was one of our favorite Disney movies. These are the memories I hold close: twin days and dates. ❤

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Matt had visited one of our friends and his wife’s new home. He got home a little after we did, and we called it a night.

Sunday

Up and at ’em again. I did not sleep enough this weekend, but sometimes I love being up early. It’s like being awake before the rest of the world, and you have that time all to yourself. I enjoyed Greek yogurt with organic pb powder, cinnamon, and vanilla topped with banana, the last of my Grape Nuts (I need to restock!), and a sprinkle of brown sugar.

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I completed a t-o-u-g-h and SO rewarding Barre3 that I first did last September. Feeling the sweat further pushes me to try my best. It’s like a built-in motivator. Side note: one of my awesome friends at work and I did a 10-minute on Thursday evening after the last patients left, and I loved it! She killed it. 🙂

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Lunch was a really simple spinach salad with carrots and the last two sad olives. I wish we had more, ha!

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I had one slice of my leftover pizza with chipotle ranch. I ate it cold, and it was fabulous! Any team cold leftover pizza lovers out there? Do you love Ranch with pizza?

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I met Kaci at their house, and I joined her, Drew, and Axl on a drizzly but enjoyable walk. Then Kaci and I went to Whole Foods for what they advertised as a sampling smorgasbord of their new products and recipes. Um, there weren’t any samples. It was pathetic. But we enjoyed some dishes from their hot bar that were deeelicious.

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We stopped by REI for an item she needed, then we went to Honeybee Coffee. They are so wonderful with lovely customer service! They apologized for not having their macadamia nut milk available at my last visit and offered me a drink on them. I tried the milk with a half caf latte, and it was so good! The milk has a unique taste but complimented their espresso beautifully. It foamed well, and I think it’s an awesome dairy alternative. Also, is their lamp not adorable?

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Kaci and I decided to go to an open house held by the group who renovated their craftsman home. It was beautiful! Check out that backsplash and pretty fireplace.

Once back at their place, we noshed on some Oreos. Nostalgia central! She and I agreed that TJ’s Joe Joe’s are actually a tad better because they have a little more filling. Nothing beats a classic wafer sandwich with cream filling.

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I went by Wal-Mart for replacement Pur water filters and found two sets of adorable headbands. I’m wearing one today that is shown at the end of this post. 🙂

A little side note regarding the below photo. I reflected on the foods I had enjoyed on this day, and I realized how much I have grown in my intuitive eating and food freedom. It doesn’t seem like much, but having pizza and then WF hot bar on a whim, a latte, Oreos, and chips and hummus not pre-portioned is a big deal. This photo was taken of me when I was maybe nine, and I was happily eating buttery Ritz crackers from the sleeve without any worry of serving size, and as you can see, it was nearing 9:30 PM. I strive to get back to being like my little self. 🙂

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My friend at work suggested that I get this spiralizer from Amazon, and boy am I glad I did! It came with four different blades, a peeler, and a cleaning brush. Plus it’s compact, which is something important to me. I tried to be selective about what kitchen gadgets I buy because I want them all to be used and needed.

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The first item I chose to spiral was a zucchini. Look how pretty!

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I sauteed them in olive oil with everything bagel seasoning, pepper, and smoked paprika. We enjoyed the very long noodles over organic spring mix with avocado, and the last of our baked chicken all warmed. I had honey vinaigrette over my salad. As I prepped dinner, I snacked on veggie corn chips with hummus, and that is one of the most satisfying combos!

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I cleaned the kitchen, prepped food, ironed my dress and then promptly plopped down with a sliced apple topped with Greek yogurt, Wild Friends almond cashew butter, and raisins.

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We did get to bed earlier, and I thankfully slept more than the past two nights.

Monday

This morning I enjoyed overnight oats made with a packet of Ancient Grains Oatmeal and milk. I added thawed mixed berries, pb, and dark chocolate morsels.

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Kaci and I both purchased a dress from Cruze Farm, and I am in love with it!!! The print is perfect as is the length, fit, and comfort level. It even has pockets!

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This is one of my new headbands, and I love it! The print is so pretty, and so far, it’s quite comfortable. It’s taming my fuller hair nicely.

One more shot. Everyone needs this dress. Kaci is wearing hers today too, so we’re definitely twinning!

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Unfortunately, our realtor told us that someone had already submitted an offer on the home Matt and I toured, and in two days from listing, it’s pending. Matt dragged his feet because he wasn’t sure, where as I was in love with it. So here we are, empty-handed again. Pray for me. I know one day we’ll find it, but in this moment, my frustration is peaking. ANYWAY, I hope you all have the best day and week ahead!!

 

Snack Attack // Last Weekend of my 20’s!

Good Monday morning! Today starts Kaci and my 30th birthday week. Eeps! On the one hand, I have reservations about turning 30, and on the other hand, I’m honored to grow one year older. Not everyone gets to experience that as their lives are cut too short, including our sweet Mason. Do you ever struggle with getting older or most especially when you cross over into a new decade?

Friday

Alright, on to Friday’s breakfast! A representative came to speak at both of my clinics and catered Panera, so I grabbed a few of these bagette slices to enjoy for breakfast. I topped one with pb, one with jam, and left one plain to dip into my sunny side up egg over wilted spinach; cinnamon spiced apple to complete this meal.

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❤ When I came upstairs after breakfast, Rachel was already snuggling with Matt, and I put Jackson down with him too. Jackson loves to cuddle with him!

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I had Panera southwestern cilantro lime chicken salad that was catered the day before. It was really tasty! Just wish they would’ve left the tortilla strips on the side so that they would’ve still been crunchy, but it was tasty none the less.

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For dessert, I had pretzels with M&M’s. I love sweet salty combos!

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After I got home from work and fed Rachel and Jackson, I enjoyed some pb granola over the last of this tub of yogurt.

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The vet, Dr. Allie, who guided Mason into peace sent this heartfelt card. It was so very appreciated. She has the kindest heart.

I put together a vegetable plate for us for dinner that included steamed vegetable medley, the last of our sauteed zucchini, canned mixed greens with tomato walnut tapenade, bread and butter pickles, and cheesey corn English muffin. Random but tasty!

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Matt knows how much I love evening walks, and he’s been offering that we go on them together quite often. I’m so appreciative! I captured this as we were walking back home. Is it not stunning? We walked for 45 minutes, and it was just what I needed to unwind from the day.

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Dessert include more yogurt, banana, tahini, hemp hearts, and Peach Cheerios. We watched the first episode of Marcella season two.

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Saturday

We both got up early (Matt couldn’t fall back asleep after feeing Ray and Jax at 5:30, and I was up by 6:30). I honestly loved it because it gives you more time to relax together before getting a move on for the day. Breakfast was also free from the catered Panera (scored big!), and it was their turkey sandwich. I sauteed the red onion that came on it plus added spinach, sharp cheddar, and shredded gouda. Steamed it in the pan then toasted each side. I enjoyed it with a cinnamon spiced apple (I’ve been craving this simple combo a lot lately!). This breakfast hit. the. spot.

I adhered Mason’ name plate to his urn, and his paw print mold is now dry. I found floating shadow boxes that we will be displaying when we move one day (hopefully in the next few months if the right house for us finally comes along).

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The first of my multpile snacks included this new nut butter filled Clif bar. Pretty good! Although I think I would’ve rather had it without the chocolate so that the salty pb would’ve been prominent.

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I love wearing a headband with my hair at this length. Makes me feel like I have a Lucy vibe. 🙂

I picked up Kaci and we headed over to Born This Way to each get our newest tattoo! Second snack while Kaci was finishing up: Glutino crackers with Graze black pepper spiced cashews and dried edamame and chickpeas.

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I’m so in love with what Emily created for us! Kaci got an aspen leaf while I got oak in autumn colors with the coordinates to our lake house. It’s our favorite place on Earth, and it will always hold a special place in our hearts.

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Post tattoo car selfie. :*

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We made a Target run together and before leaving, I ate another snack: banana and Babybel. I also had a nostalgic blue raspberry sucker from Born This Way.

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I dropped off Kaci and then made my way home. Fed our sweeties, put away my purchases, and then I had raw cauliflower with Ceasar. I was talking with a patient last week about cauliflower with Ranch, so it got me craving it.

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For dinner we had sauteed zucchini with the tomato walnut tapenade, Jasmine rice, and the chicken that Matt had roasted a few days prior.

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Dessert was thawed fruit medley, yogurt, flax, Peach Cheerios, and gin + tonic dark chocolate because apparently it was World Gin Day, so I had to help celebrate. We watched two episodes of Marcella then called it a night.

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Sunday

We did sleep in on Sunday until 8:00 for me and maybe 9:00 for Matt. Felt great! Toast with mashed avocado, tahini, and maple on one; cream cheese, jam, hemp hearts on the other.

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After sipping coffee, I found all the motivation! I made us each pasta salads for several lunches this week and then whipped up these chocolate pb bites thanks to Erin’s latest recipe! I used a combination of dates, figs, and prunes then divided the recipe in half and left one without carob powder and added carob + coconut butter to the other half. They are both phenomenal. I had one of each with milk as a snack.

 

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Kaci and I had planned to attend a free yoga class but decided to tackle her and Drew’s front garden beds. We pulled all of the weeds, and then I made a late lunch including spinach, mixed vegetables, over easy egg, Aldi GF veg empanadas.

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Matt and I toured a cute home, but while it had awesome character and a lovely kitchen, it was too small and not quite what we need. We’re really hoping that a few good listings will be posted this week so we can tour several one evening.

I had found this product at Aldi a little while ago, and Matt and I finally bought a pork roast so that we could make it. I made it Saturday evening then let it thicken in the fridge. Unfortunately, we don’t have a Dutch oven, so I added one cup water instead of two into a glass baking dish and covered it with foil. I baked it at the 350 called for, but I probably should’ve gone lower and slower.

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We added some barbeque sauce to it, but it was pretty tasty. Just not shredded and saucy like the photo. Lol. We split the last of the GF corn English muffin and had steamed green beans with the last of the tomato walnut tapenade and pickles.

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After dinner shenanigans!

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One of Matt’s friends was kind enough to bring us two dozen fresh farm eggs! We’re very well-stocked.

Dessert was yet another fruit and yogurt bowl with plum, berry, cherry, cacao nib blend, LOVE GROWN Comet Crispies, and chopped mixed nuts and pistachios. We watched Marcella then hit the hay.

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Monday

I’m wearing one of my fav dresses to kick off my birthday week! It’s really strange that I’m almost 30, but age is but a number, right?

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Love, Loss, & Life Lessons

Somehow it’s already Monday again. These weekends just go by faster and faster it seems. I sure hope everyone had a restful weekend! A random tidbit, but I wanted to share this compliment our lead Registered Dietitian gave to me on Thursday following one of our monthly clinic quality meetings. She told me that she has enjoyed working with me and has noticed a huge growth in my work and professionalism over the past two years that we have worked together. She also thanked me for taking so many dietetic interns throughout my time as a Renal RD. It was so unexpected to hear this, and it really did give me a boost. It’s easy to go along and not recognize each other for the work we’re doing because said work is expected. But when you go above and beyond, it’s nice to be acknowledged.

Friday

For breakfast, I made fluffy cheddar cheesy scrambled eggs over wilted spinach with a Hilary’s vegetable sausage and green grapes.

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It was National Donut Day, so I got a free powdered donut from Duck Donuts that I enjoyed mid-morning before seeing my patients.

Lunch was this vegan Luvo bowl that was very enjoyable.

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I was able to take a free Community Barre3 class that was so very needed, and I greatly appreciated it. The instructor, Kelsey is a natural and did such a wonderful job leading us through the flow. I felt really good afterwards.

Once home, I made us salmon burgers with avocado, Red Hot Blues chips, green beans from frozen plus sautéed broccoli and cauliflower pearls drizzled with Chick-fil-a Polynesian sauce.

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Matt and I went on a walk afterwards, and it was incredibly relaxing. We walked in a different neighborhood, which was nice for a change.

Dessert was thawed fruit in Greek yogurt with Love Grown Comet Crispies. Every time I eat from the tub, I think of sweet Mason. He always got to have the last lick.

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We watched the newest Power Rangers movie finally. I was a Power Ranger fanatic as a kid! It was, as expected, corny, ha. I liked it alright, but it wasn’t nearly as good as the movies I watched when I was younger.

Saturday

We slept in and enjoyed a slow morning, which included a packet of instant maple multigrain oatmeal mixed into cottage cheese and milk then topped with thawed fruit and tahini drizzle.

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I ordered Kaci and I each a set of three shadow box/floating shelves from Amazon to display photos and memories of Mason. Jackson loves a good box and jumped right into it! Matt snapped this. So cute!

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Once we were ready, we were off to enjoy our day together. First up, a selfie out front of our place, but this time, we faced the camera to our home. I love getting these. It’s like our thing in a way. 😉

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When we attended the open house on Sunday of Memorial Day Weekend, we signed up to win a Chick-fil-a gift card and won it! So we treated ourselves to lunch. I got their cool chicken wrap with this amazing avocado lime ranch dressing. I wish I had had a way to save the rest.

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Matt got to enjoy a grilled chicken deluxe on their gluten free bun plus fries! He hadn’t eaten at a Chick-fil-a in forever. We checked, and they cook their fries in canola oil separate from any breaded items, so they’re gluten free. Score! I love this shot. I think it looks like an ad. 🙂

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I had some of their soft serve for dessert.

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Sauce score!

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We went to World Market to kill time and found some fun food products before we went to the movie theater to see Deadpool 2. Hi-larious!! We laughed really hard many times. Highly recommend it.

Afterwards, we went to Aldi and then Kroger together. I’ve said it before, but I love doing even the simple things together. Matt makes it so fun.

When we got home, we were surprised to see this gorgeous arrangement in honor of Mason sent to us by the Animal ER Hospital. The flower shop did an awful job on spelling, but the flowers were so very appreciated. I wrote to the flower shop to thank them but also advise they check better, and they immediately responded in agreement. I also wrote and thanked the people who helped give us one more beautiful year with our perfect baby boy.

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We have it on display just outside of our bedroom.

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We found this spread at World Market that I put to use in our dinner.

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Sautéed mushrooms, last of the pearled vegetables, green beans, black beans, spread, 90-second vegetable rice packet, avocado, and roasted sunflower seeds. Matt added shredded smoked gouda to his, and we had some Red Hot Blues for crunch.

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Matt knows how much I love to walk in the evenings, so he suggested it before I even had a chance to ask. It made me super happy. I’m not too difficult to please. 🙂

It got late, so we split a ripe banana with yogurt, peanut butter, cinnamon, and Peach Cheerios for Matt.

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Sunday

My last dietetic intern brought graham crackers a few times, which made me crave them. So I got a box and enjoyed some with peanut butter and apple with cinnamon for breakfast.

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Cold brew with milk enjoyed in one of our Kitchables latte glasses. It makes it so cold and so delicious!

My second breakfast was toast with wilted spinach, shredded gouda, an over easy egg, and grapes.

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Girlfriend was loving the sunshine!

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I took a free Community Unity Yoga class (free was the name of the weekend, apparently), but I was the only one to attend. Odd, but I received one-on-one instruction. Loved it!

My late lunch was the last of our Banza pasta dish.

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I splurged on this chocolate bar from World Market and had a few squares with roasted nuts. It’s so delicious and different. Love the packaging too!

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Matt and I viewed two homes with two realtors. The second home had so so many awesome qualities, but the kitchen was tiny, it only had one bathroom, and Matt noticed that the water table was such that the backyard may flood. But it’s only been on the market for now five days, and there were people lined up after us to tour it. It’ll go fast. The realtor who we met at the open house and who sent us the Chick-fil-a gift card showed it to us. We decided to continue our conversation at an Applebee’s near by. I had a house salad, and we munched on their nachos appetizer.

Once home, I just made myself a fruit and yogurt bowl and had Celestial Seasonings lemon lavender tea with honey.

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I realize a lot has already been said, but I wanted to mention this of Mason. Over this past year and really from the moment he came into our lives, I realized just how much of a fighter he was. Falling out from under a car could’ve seriously harmed or killed him, but he was just fine. Getting cancer could’ve been a death sentence, but he fought so hard for an entire year. An entire year of starting with a tube feed that was then dislodged when he sadly came out of remission, the start of a new chemo protocol, daily medications, monthly exam visits. It was intense, but every single bit of it and penny spent was beyond worth it. For several years, my anxiety, largely stemming from health worries, has worsened. Sadly, it has taken seeing my baby boy pass away to make me realize how little worrying ever changes anything. It does nothing for the outcome – it only ruins the present. While I’m human and will worry at times, anxiety will rear its head, I have resolved to overcome it and get back to living my life in the now rather than thinking of the “what if’s”. Mason didn’t think about how much time he had left. He just lived life to the absolute fullest! I’m trying hard to reflect on this, and while I would rather have learned this lesson in any other way besides this, I’m trying to see what Mason taught me. He was our baby for a reason. He gave us immense purpose, showed us unconditional love, and he enriched our lives far more than we could ever imagine. Thank you for following along on his journey and being supportive to us through this time.

 

 

Mason Storm Daniel

At approximately 6:30 PM on May 30, 2018, our sweet baby boy, Mason got his wings. He had fought cancer so damn hard for nearly one year, and he ultimately told us it was time for him to be at peace. No more exams, needles, tests, medications or chemo treatment. He would get to be cancer-free again and eat all of the food his heart desired. To say we have struggled would be the understatement of the year. While we always have known our babies would in all likelihood pass before us, we never in a million years expected to receive Mason’s cancer diagnosis exactly one year ago yesterday and then to lose him at such a young age. He would only be turning nine this fall. But as I have always believed, quality is greater than quantity, and he sure knew how to live it up!

Mason literally and figuratively tumbled into our lives in early November 2009. Matt had come over and was waiting on our front porch as I was still finishing biochemistry lab. As soon as I pulled into the driveway, I knew something was up by the look on Matt’s face. As I walked toward him, he gently opened his fleece jacket just enough to show this itty bitty, so damn adorable kitten tucked away. I was in shock! Where had he come from, and why did Matt have him? Matt explained that as a car, he believes a Buick model, was driving up our very busy street, Mason tumbled out from where he had climbed into the engine to stay warm. By some miracle, he had been unharmed as the car had been started and driven! All that he sustained was a little bump to his lip and nose. The bottom two photos were taken that very evening, and you can see his “battle wounds”!

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Kaci and I rushed him down to the vets, and they were so amazing. They examined him for free and gave us food to take home. We had Rachel for going on two years at this point, and we were not sure how she would respond to another baby. We nicknamed him Squirt and for a few hours debated if we should find him a home. How utterly ridiculous!!!! He was our baby, and we knew it. The next day we began brainstorming names. I don’t remember exactly who, but either Matt, Kaci or I suggested Mason. Somehow we just knew that was the purrfect name. We then came up with Storm for his middle name, and thus Mason Storm Daniel became our second baby. At the time, Kaci was into Garfield, so somehow we started calling him Pookie Bear like Garfield’s teddy bear. That then morphed to just Pookie, Pookie No-Pants, and Pooks. He responded to all of them and especially loved when we’d say, “pooooooks” in our baby voices. He would dance with his back feet and shake his tail while mewing and purring for rubs. He had a purrsonality that was bigger than life itself!

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It’s hard to believe he was ever this tiny!

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His eyes hadn’t even turned green yet, and he still had a ways to go in order to grow into his ears. ❤

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This photo gets me every time!

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One of the most precious photos ever. He loved his daddy from the very beginning!

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Does this even look comfortable? Ha! He had a love of fleece from the moment we introduced him to it.

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Despite Rachel acting upset or indifferent at times, she truly loved her brother.

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Matt looked forward to seeing Mason after work every day! These two were so fun together.

Mason’t first snow! He got to see it from the comfort of our warm home. You can see Kaci’s reflection in the window, ha.

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He had always been such a snuggle-monster.

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By spring of 2010, he had really grown! I’m sure Rachel was just as shocked. Where did that little pipsqueak go?

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Mason adored both of his mamas, and Kaci was the very best to him!

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He was such a ham for the camera!

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This shot is so incredibly sweet. Just look how at ease he was all snuggled in Kaci’s fleece robe? Fleece was his favorite fabric.

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He was the best study-buddy!

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He loved his noms! He was super healthy and happy, and that’s all that mattered.

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Mason on the day I graduated from undergrad in May 2011.

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I don’t exactly remember when he got his first taste of peanut butter, but man oh man was he hooked!! He seriously had *the* best taste and appetite. He ultimately had tried peanut butter, oatmeal, sweet potato, toast, avocado, whole baked chicken, pork, beef, turkey, tuna, sardines, carrots, cauliflower, yogurt, smoothies, and so much more.

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Super kitty!

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I took this on one of the first nights in Matt and my place together, August 2015. We didn’t have a couch or love seat, so Mason and I chilled on the floor. It felt so strange when I first looked at this photo again because just over from where I took this he took his last breath less than three years later.

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I took these next four on the day we returned from our honeymoon.

How could anyone resist those eyes or that face?!

We nicknamed his scrunchy nose “Pookie nose”, and Matt said I had it in this bridal wedding day photo. I love it!

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No matter what, Mason was always there for me. When I caught a cold spring 2017, he kept me company all day!

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Morning cuddles before work!

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As soon as he would lay his head on my shoulder, my heart would absolutely melt.

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That face! ❤

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We adored his big, green eyes. Are they not amazing?

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Mason received amazing news after his exam on May 24th, so we were that much more heartbroken when we learned that his cancer had come back and changed. His body had already been through so much, so we decided that he had fought long and hard and deserved to just be spoiled by us. We got him medications to help give comfort, but sadly, the next day he just told us he was ready. He still would not eat, he slept under our bed, and he was so exhausted. Despite this, Matt suggested Kaci, Drew, he, and I take him outside before the vet was scheduled to arrive that evening. His eyes lit up and were the biggest and brightest that they had been for days! Normally we limit their grass grazing, but we let him eat to his heart’s content. He was in heaven already. He purred and mewed for us, and he rubbed on us when we pet him. That is just what my heart needed: to see him so very happy and as much himself again before he had to go.

Kaci snapped the majority of these, and they are amazing!!!

He just couldn’t get enough “salad”.

He was so interested in the grass that he was like, “Uh, no guys. No photos”. 😉

Once we were back inside, he held up the wall one last time. The vet explained what we should expect and was so kind. She gently eased him into a restful state and then finally gave him his wings. I dreaded taking him to the vets to say goodbye, so doing it at home was such a blessing. She allowed me to transfer him into a basket complete with the softest fleece blanket. As I mentioned before, he loved fleece, so it just felt so special and so right.

The incredible vet shared this heartfelt post in his honor. Mason could be really shy and timid, but as soon as she walked up to him, he greeted her with excitement. We feel without a doubt he knew why she was there. She gave him Temptations treats, and for the first time in days, he was SO excited to eat!! I couldn’t believe it. My biggest wish was to see him enjoy food one last time before he was at rest, and while that may sound silly, it gave me a lot of peace of mind.

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I love this photo so much.

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Sadly, my parents had to say goodbye to one of their babies in March due to cancer, and they shared this poem with us. It chokes me up every single time I read it. I felt it was exactly what Mason was trying to tell us.

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We truly hope that Mason knows just how much we adored him and miss him now. We can’t stop thinking about him and wish more than anything that he were still here. But we are eternally grateful that we had the privilege of being his parents: Kaci, Matt, and me. The Animal Emergency and Specialty Center gave us one more beautiful year with our baby boy. May he rest in peace. I’m thankful I have the best guardian angel one could ever hope for. ❤