Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas (Eve)!

Picture from our holiday card this year:

Mommy and Ryan at Brookside Gardens:

Super excited to see the trains display again (and again, and again!)

Our little "grinch" did not want to wear his Christmas hat.  hehe.

I hope that everyone has a wonderful holiday and be sure to tell your loved ones how much you care about them while they are still here.  We are continuing to pray for my mom and trying to keep her as comfortable as possible, but it is very painful to watch her suffer and feel so helpless and sad.


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Our Holiday Update

This holiday season is bittersweet for our family.  Ryan gives us so much excitement and joy, but my mom’s health has been rapidly declining.  I just wanted to post an update about what has been happening during this past month.

Ryan got his very first haircut and I was proud of him for acting like such a big boy and not even crying (except for about five seconds when he first saw the buzzer).

We became even more involved with our two playgroups, one that meets weekly on Fridays and the other that has events randomly throughout the month.  These are some of the sweetest mommies!

We participated in several mommy and me classes, visited a local holiday train display (which Ryan adored), attended a holiday cookie swap, and enjoyed many playdates with friends.

We also got to see a bunch of family members at the Christmas party.  There are so many little ones at our family gatherings now!  It reminds me of when my cousins and I used to play together as kids, and now it is our children doing the exact same things.

Unfortunately, this past week we were told that there are not any more treatment options available for my mom and that we needed to call hospice to prepare for the end.  After almost three years of fighting metastatic colon cancer, which had already spread to her liver and lungs at the time of diagnosis, my mom’s body is now shutting down.  She has suffered more than anyone should ever have to, and she did it all for the sole purpose of spending a longer time with her family.

We have tried to make my mom as comfortable as possible in her own home, and I have been spending the days and also nights with her, in order to give her medicines every 2 to 4 hours and to calm her down when she gets upset.  It is absolute torture for me to watch my beautiful mommy and best friend go through this amount of physical, mental, and emotional pain.  Sometimes she recognizes who we are and other times she doesn’t.  I am just praying for her to find peace, whether that be here on earth (in the form of a miracle recovery) or in heaven with God.  I just don't know how I will manage without her, I love her so very much.

Couscous and Feta-Stuffed Peppers

I just have to share this recipe that I found at Smitten Kitchen because it has become one of my favorite go-to dishes to make when I can't think of what else to eat.  It is easy and delicious!  The recipe can be made with or without chickpeas, depending on your preference.  I personally think that it tastes great either way.

Couscous and Feta-Stuffed Peppers

vegetable oil cooking spray
1 1/4 cups fat-free vegetable broth
2/3 cup couscous
5 large bell peppers
2 tsp olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
6 oz zucchini, quartered lengthwise then sliced across thinly
6 oz yellow squash, quartered lengthwise then sliced across thinly
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half
15 oz canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
4 oz crumbled feta cheese (about 1 cup)
3 tablespoons tomato paste

Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a small baking dish with cooking spray.
Bring the broth to a boil in a saucepan, add the couscous, cover the pan and remove it from the heat.
Cut the stems and top half inch off the bell peppers and scoop out the seeds and membranes. Place peppers upright in a baking dish and roast them for 15 minutes or so, until they soften, then remove them from the oven until the filling is ready.
Heat oil in a nonstick skillet. Add onion, zucchini, yellow squash, fennel seeds, oregano, and salt. Cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes or until vegetables are softened. Remove from heat and stir in the tomatoes, chickpeas and tomato paste. Using a fork, scrape the couscous into the skillet and toss with the vegetables. Stir in the crumbled feta.
Fill peppers with the couscous mixture.
Bake for 15 minutes.

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