A Weekend Full Of Nothing & A Recipe

Monday, November 17, 2014

You know those weekends full of nothing to do? Those delicious weekends with no plans, no work and in our case no food in the fridge. Weekends were you end up living in lounge wear and maybe rearrange some photo frames or actually have time to clean out your underwear drawer. Long days wrapped up in a movie, and deep hearty laughs with your spouse. Time to actually breath and enjoy the feeling of nothing in particular.

Our weekend, it was awesome. It was awesome because our bodies slept straight till lunch time each morning. It was awesome because we walked to Trader Joe's in our work out pants topped with the shirts we slept in the night before. It was awesome because we camped out in our bed in the afternoons watching football (I watched movies on my computer) and ate nothing but snacks. Anyone else totally in love with Trader Joe's and all their snacks!?

Happily doing nothing with the one you love. Whatever that feeling is ... it is a good one.

We needed this weekend full of nothing more than we knew. Of course I can't help but remember our weekends full of nothing were truly the best with Ryan. But, I can't think of that right now because I'll start to cry. And I don't want to cry...not today. What I'll think about are all the moments from this past weekend with my husband...

The moment of us giving each other high fives after realizing we slept in till 11am! Or when I said "I'm going to take a shower." and Dan said "Why?" My favorite moment was when we were walking home from dinner and decided to stop into this travel bookstore for "just a sec." We stayed for an hour tucked away looking at a million books, dreaming of a million adventures.

Dear Weekend Full Of Nothing, 
Thank you. We needed you badly. We needed happy, lazy and lots relaxation. We needed to ease off the sadness for just a few a days. We needed to just be. 


This weekend wasn't totally full of nothing if you count my time in the kitchen Sunday afternoon. I had a can of pumpkin puree burning a hole in my cupboard and a serious craving for sugar...as I typically always do. I love these "donut" muffins which aren't really anything like donuts except for that sugar coating. It reminds me of my favorite kind of donut. You know those round ones coated in white sugar? Those are awesome. These are awesome too...Enjoy!

Pumpkin "Donut" Muffins

What You Need
2 cups pumpkin puree
2 cups of all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups raw sugar
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
3 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 tsp pumpkin spice
 or if you don't have pumpkin spice try...
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp all spice

For the cinnamon and sugar coating
1/2 cup of raw sugar
2 tsp cinnamon

What You Do
-sift all your flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and spices together.
-with a whisk mix your eggs and pumpkin.
-add your oil and vanilla to your eggs and pumpkin. Whisk until all incorporated.
-slowly whisk in your dry ingredients.
-mix until there are no lumps.
-scoop batter into a greased muffin pan.
-bake for about 15-20 minutes at 350 degrees.
-while your muffins bake mix your sugar and cinnamon together in a big bowl.
-once your muffins are out of the oven and cooled, use a butter knife to loosen them out of the pan.
-toss your muffins one by one in the cinnamon and sugar coating.

Are You Ryan's Mom?

Thursday, November 6, 2014

This morning felt like it was going to be another hard one. I wish I could crumple the last few days up like paper and throw them away. I guess I am more sensitive because the holidays are here. Talks of gift giving and sparkly decor is spreading like wild fire...it all makes me feel anxious and depressed. Really, I wish I could crumple up the holidays like paper and throw them away ... just for this year at least.

Anyways, I had to go to Target for laundry soap. When I got there I became side tracked by the Christmas ornaments. I immediately started searching for ones that reminded me of Ryan. I don't want anything to do with the holidays and yet it took two seconds for me to become obsessed with trying to find ornaments that somehow related to Ryan. It doesn't make sense, but in that moment I felt strongly about finding the perfect ornaments. Thats the thing about this grief, it has me all over the place sometimes. While reaching for a Raphael Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle a kind woman came up to me and asked,

"Are you Ryan's mom?" 
I smile and pride begins to beam out of me. At least I feel it beaming.
"Yes! I am Ryan's mom." 

I had lost the feeling of being a mother the second I lost my son. How am I still a mom? I don't feel like I am anymore. Everyone told me otherwise and I never truly believed them.

I miss my daily responsibilities like;
making school lunches and making baby food before that, preparing healthy snacks, thinking of fun activities that foster creativity and learning, making sure we head outdoors for adventures, preschool drop off and pick up, doing his little laundry and keeping a good clean stack of underwear just in case, breakfast making, singing Katy Perry and Bruno Mars in the car (which isn't a responsibility, just me being silly with my son), our bedtime routine, story time, teaching him where money comes from...

Does this make sense? I miss the act of motherhood. I miss my days as a mother. A real mom.

This afternoon things sort of clicked. This stranger asked me a simple question which gave me a sense of validation.

"Are you Ryan's mom?"

I am a mom. I am still a mom. A real mom. Just a different one. It clicked that I still have major responsibilities as Ryan's mother. The most important one being to honor my son in every move I make.

I have new responsibilities like; getting up and dressed to show my son that his mom is strong and hasn't lost her will to live,  planning adventures with my husband to show Ryan his mom and dad haven't lost their will to love, smiling and continuing to make people laugh to show Ryan that his mom is still funny and silly, going to work to further teach Ryan where money comes from. I also sing louder in the car as if the louder I am the clearer he can hear me.

What a blessing it was to meet this kind stranger who knew about Ryan and was willing to hug me in the middle of Target. I told her I was trying to pick out Christmas ornaments that reminded me of Ryan and she didn't even give me those 'sad eyes' when someone feels sorry for you. No, she smiled with me. We hugged and talked about life. We talked about school for our kids and I was able to refer her to Ryan's preschool with out turning into a bubbling hot mess! We also discussed how cruel this life can be and there were a bit of tears. We understood each other and in that moment it was what I needed.
As soon as she walked away I texted Dan "I just met the nicest girl!" She was a gift. Things have a funny way of working together. Having a crappy last few days, feeling like I can't do this anymore. Questioning myself and what I am doing, what are we doing here with out Ryan? I never see these gifts coming, but I am so grateful to have them pull me out of my cloud and give me a sense of clarity. It is all so emotional and moment to moment this grief. I have to lean on these gifts and really use them to get me through...

I left Target with two Christmas ornaments, a new friend and a proud smile that screamed
"I am Ryan's mom!" 
... I forgot the laundry soap though.

If You Give Ryan A Smoothie, He'll Want To Pick His Straw

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Smoothie making was a huge thing in our house. It always will be. 
When I think about mornings with Ryan, I think of smoothies. Well, I think of a lot of things that made up our morning routine. But, smoothies were definitely an important factor. 

It started the year before last when Ryan fell in love with Jamba Juice or "Juice Jamba” as he would say. I took him there on a whim before walking to the park. I told him it was a special treat. He drank the whole thing in less than two minutes and declared it the best kind of drink because of the straw. He loved drinking from a straw.
He started asking for "Juice Jamba" often and then I decided to just start making them myself. Because those suckers aren’t really that healthy, and the cost adds up quick. I bought fun colored straws and all kinds of fruits to blend up. I started freezing the fruit for colder, thicker smoothies and played around with fruit and veggie combinations too. I could pretty much blend up anything and Ryan would slurp it down, so long as he got to choose his straw. Smoothie making turned out perfect for squeezing extra greens and healthy things into his body. 

Every morning he would help me pull out all the ingredients from the fridge and lay them out on the counter for me. I would pull the frozen fruit out of the freezer and take out his favorite cup. Ryan would think long and hard about which colored straw he would want to use on that particular morning. He usually always chose the green straw because there were no red straws, and the pink straws were always for me. "Mom, you have pink."

Us two, we made such a good team. We weaved in and out of each other in the kitchen and our chatter covered all the hot topics;

Can we go to the park instead of pre-school?  
What shape is my "hamich" today? (sandwich. I always cut his sandwich into different shapes.)
Who goes fasters, Lightening McQueen or Dash? (Which he always followed up with running in place.)
Why does Caillou have no hair? 

I miss everything, but mostly his voice. His laugh. His thoughts moving through his mind out to his little mouth. 

Now a days smoothie making has resumed. It is a lot quieter as it is only me in there. But my son loved making smoothies every morning, and I need to pick back up from where we left off.

I pull all the ingredients out, just he would and spread them all over the counter.
I think about all of Ryan’s favorite things. I replay his words and actions in my mind.
I carefully choose which color straw to use. I now bounce between green and pink.
I wonder if he is watching me.
When I think of him watching me, I smile.

All these things may seem so small and meaningless, but I assure you they mean the world to me.
Something as simple as making a smoothie became such an important routine. It was an adventure every morning that Ryan and I got to experience. I miss it. I miss him. 

I hope you can make smoothies too, I'm sure most of you do. You can make them with your little loved ones. You can get creative like we did. Ryan will love to see you choose your straws.

You can click here to see a past blog post where Ryan and I created some kid-friendly smoothie recipes. 
Feel free to mix them up and create something of your own liking.
                                                                    Happy Smoothie Making!


Pumpkin Breakfast Smoothie

Ryan most likely would not have liked this. 
But I love it! So I thought I'd share with all my pumpkin lovers out there.

What You Need

1/2 cup Pureed Pumpkin 
Half a Banana (I like banana. You can also use dates!)
1/2 Handful of Oats (these make this smoothie filling. You can toss in a lot or a little.)
1/2 cup to 1 cup Almond milk (you might have to add more if your smoothie is a bit thick.)
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
1/2 tsp Vanilla
Drizzle of Maple Syrup (if you are feeling fancy)
Pinch of Flax Seed (not necessary, but I like the nutty flavor)

What You Do

-I like to freeze all my fruit for smoothies so the texture is thick. I start out by freezing my pumpkin puree in ice trays the night before I make this smoothie. Though you don't have to freeze if you don't want to.
-Toast your oats tossed in cinnamon in the oven for a quick 3-5 minutes at 375 degrees. Again you don't have to do this either, I just like the texture and flavor.
-In a blender pour in your almond milk. I say 1/2 cup, but make sure it covers your blender blades completely. You might have to add more milk in if the smoothie is too thick.
-Now just add the rest of ingredients (except maple syrup) and blend till smooth.
-Pour into a glass and drizzle the maple syrup on top.

Small Moments - Chai Latte

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Chai lattes are special. They remind me of coffee dates with my mom. She prefers it over coffee and the two of us crave it in the afternoons. Once in our hands this sense of relief washes over and all is good till the last drop. We go for chai dates often and now we go to remember Ryan. 

Chai lattes also remind me of my son. I can still hear him say 'chai watte' and the memory pulls on my heart. This memory makes my heart feel heavy and sad, with a small smile. These coffee house runs are such good memories, I wish I still had him by my side when I walk to get one now.
Ryan and I would frequent coffee shops, our favorite being Starbucks. It was a special treat and Ryan would love coming with me. He would eagerly ask for a 'hot coc-wate', he would always ask for whipped cream and I would always turn him down. 

You don't need the whipped cream, hot chocolate is enough. 
OK! He would say. 
He knew once he got the chance to go with my mom she would get him extra whipped cream.
As Abuelas (grandmas) always love to indulge in a little spoiling. 

Ryan began to remember I always ordered a chai latte and at home he would pretend to make them for me. "Here is your chai mom with whipp ceeem!" As if he was trying to show me, look I get you whipped cream! 

This morning I made a homemade chai latte and all these memories came flowing back. Like steam rising from a warm cup of chai, these moments rose up and swirled around in my mind. I closed my eyes and saw us walking hand in hand. Smiling at each other, me anticipating his requests. I'd open the door and he would run into line. I yearn for those moments again. I feel heavy and sad ... but I can't help but smile a small smile. 

I'm thankful for these small moments with my son. 
These small moments, thank God I have three and a half years full of them. 

I love you Ryan. 
I miss you Ryan. 
I'm drinking my chai with you Ryan.

Chai Latte - Ryan's Chai Latte

What You Need
- 1 teabag of chai tea
- 3/4 cup boiling water
- 1 cup of almond milk (or whatever dairy you like)
- 1/2 teaspoon real vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- sprinkle of nutmeg or allspice if you are feeling fancy

What You Do
- boil your water and then turn the heat off and steep the teabag for no more than 3 minutes. If you steep longer than 3 minutes the tea starts to taste bitter. 
- take your teabag out and pour in your milk. We love almond milk over here, but you can use whatever dairy you prefer. 
- turn your heat back on and keep extremely low. At this point you just want to warm the chai latte to your liking. Add spices and vanilla, stir. 
- once it is warmed through pour into a mug and enjoy. 
- you can also let it cool and then pour over ice. (which is what i did this morning) 

I hope you enjoy. 
If you feel like sharing, I'd love to hear your favorite small moment that you have with your little one. 

How Can You Live Loud & Wild?

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Once my son had passed we had a few days there after to just be in a sad solid daze. Dan and I just gripped to each other really not understanding life at that moment. Not understanding anything really. We just went through the motions, hugged everyone back, listened to everyone talk. Things got really terrible when talks of a funeral started buzzing around. A funeral for my son? The process was heart wrenching and one of the hardest things I'd ever had to do. A few days before his funeral I wanted to call the whole thing off because it felt more comfortable to just sit and be sad and angry than it did to go through the act of a damn funeral.  I remember crying to Dan, begging him to make it all stop. Ryan's funeral, it seemed impossible. No matter the pain and gut wrenching act of sitting through my child's funeral service, we did it. We banded together and we knocked the whole funeral thing out of the park and it. was. beautiful. Painfully beautiful.

'Live Loud Live Wild' was something I came up with while my brain was deep within fog and my heart shattered in a million pieces. I was inspired by my son and his personality as I had to come up with wording for his funeral program. How can I make this funeral program positive and uplifting rather than sad with verses unknown to me? I knew I wanted it simple and saturated with Ryan. I think it turned out perfect. And now this 'Live Loud Live Wild' has become a way of life...in honor of our son.

My son, he was loud and he was wild. He lived life to the fullest and even at his young age I believe he knew what that meant. He definitely taught Dan and I the true meaning of living. With Ryan we were loud and wild all the time. Now, we try everyday to honor our son by living life just as he would want it ... it is so hard and some days I live by just barely breathing in bed while I watch television to numb my mind. But other days it comes easy, smiles and laughter comes easy.

Live Loud Live Wild. 

It could mean so many things for so many people.
This week we come up on five whole months with out our beautiful son. And as timing is truly everything, yesterday I received a package from a sweet stranger. Her name is Lindsay and she taught yoga at a children's summer camp in New York this year. Lindsay taught her little yogis one day about living loud and wild. She asked them what they thought it meant and their responses were wonderful, innocent and a few hilarious. Lindsay sent Dan and I the sweetest card and all the children's responses. It is painful to see other children's artwork and read their hopes and dreams of living loud and wild. I can't help but think that my baby won't get to do any of his hopes and dreams here with us. As parents ... we had hopes and dreams for him that will go unseen and un-lived. It breaks my heart. But then I think, Ryan was so great and amazing ... he taught his parents how to really live. And now, because this sweet stranger felt inspired by Ryan and his little legacy, a lot of children will ponder just how they want to live loud and wild. That is something special.

They are so important those hopes and dreams. They are such a beautiful thing and vital to living. What I need to remember is that even though I feel depressed and sometimes so sad and angry about Ryan's hopes and dreams being gone, there are different hopes and dreams in the midst of my grief. Hopes and dreams I need to hold on to and focus on during my times of sadness. What keeps me living loud and wild are my hopes and dreams for the future. I get stuck sometimes on the fact that I now live with out my son, but he is here with me and there with you. I hope we can all think about how we can live loud and wild. How we can cherish this life given to us, no matter how hard it can be. Ryan would have wanted us to live loud and wild just as he did. Just as he does.

Below are some of our favorite responses and drawings these creative children sent us.

I feel as though this would have been Ryan's response. I can live wild by living in a candy house!

'...always love life and live wild!' 

This one is Dan's favorite. I can live loud by working hard and playing hard! 

Love this child's response...I can live loud by being a DJ! 

Lindsay, we have no idea who you are but we are thankful for your heart. Thank you for having us on your mind and doing this exercise with your students. You are a special person and we are grateful that you taught these kids about Ryan and you let them explore their very own hopes and dreams and how they can live loud and wild. 


Friday, September 19, 2014

It is no secret how much I adore Instagram. I know for a fact that a lot of people, including family members think the whole thing is ridiculous, or makes no sense. I mean who really cares what you are doing, what you are wearing or what you are eating. I guess no one. Or everyone?
Or maybe just my mom ... Hi Mom!

The point of it for me is to document the beauty in our otherwise mundane daily routines. When I say I take a photo of everything, I make no exaggerations about it. I literally take a photo of everything and looking back I think "THANK GOD I DID!"  I was so blissfully unaware of what kind of life I would have in the future as I took endless photos of my son. I had no idea he would be ripped away from me so soon. I took photos of; what he wore, what he ate, what I baked, what we crafted, park dates, play dates, being late for preschool, kisses on the cheek, Starbucks, beach days, Disney days silly faces, pancakes in the morning, pancakes in the evening, Target runs and most importantly I captured the three of us all together smiling and having fun. My husband, my son and myself, the three of us were perfect. The three of us are perfect. And it is all captured in wonderful, tiny squared images on Instagram.

I am beyond grateful of my overzealous need to post photos of my life on Instagram. If only I can collect all my favorite most memorable Instagram posts and create a book of them. A book I can hold close to my heart and a book that showcases how our life was with our Ryan Cruz.

Enter Chatbooks.

A huge gift from above that came at the right time for me.  Chatbooks is a company that prints your Instagram posts into beautiful 60 page books. Each book is only $6. You can just print a few or you or go nuts and print your entire Instagram feed. These books, you guys I can barely express to you in words how much I love them. My Chatbooks detail every move I made with my son...I have 3 glorious years wrapped up in perfect-bound covers forever. They are tiny, treasured time capsules. Each book holds a chapter of my heart mixed with all the fantastic things we as a family of three accomplished. It also holds countless smiles, milestones, events and features my son from when he was a little chubby thing with perfect wild red hair ... up till his last day rambunctious with perfect wild red hair.

If you want to see your Instagram photos printed into books then I urge you to give Chatbooks a try. I'm sure most of you have captured some pretty fun and memorable moments and would love to physically hold on to those forever. I know for a fact  that my Ryan would have loved looking through our Chatbooks ... I'm sure your little ones will too. As mentioned before, you can print your whole Instagram feed or pick and choose photos to create a special event book. Chatbooks can highlight just about anything from a vacation trip, fun parties, your child's first year etc. The best thing about Chatbooks is you can control everything and get extremely creative with your memories.

If you are new to Chatbooks, use the code BAKERY at checkout so you can receive your first book free! Cheers to Chatbooks and capturing the beauty in our daily routines.

Thank you so much Chatbooks for the most amazing gift. 


Download the Chatbooks app or check out their website. If you are new to Chatbooks, use the code BAKERY at checkout so you can receive your first book free!

Salted Chocolate Almond Butter Cookies - Gluten Free

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

It is safe to say that while I find baking and cooking with out Ryan's playful chatter and strewn toys across the tile floor, I certainly still hold a deep love for creating in the kitchen. It hasn't been easy to get back in there and while some of you might not see just how hard it is ... You'll have to trust me when I say,  not having my son running in and out while I'm in the kitchen is something I'll never get used to. Ryan was always in the kitchen with me. YES, I do believe he is still with me ... but he really isn't  w i t h  me. [Insert sharp pain in the heart here.] I severely miss doing all things with my Ryan.  This battle of doing things with out my child is constant. It is a true battle. Everyday I cry and a lot of times I feel so alone and defeated. However, while I do feel like crap covered in more crap most of the time, I am constantly working very hard on conquering this battle and all the others that come with losing your three year old son in a sudden second. 

Ryan wants me to win. Being very competitive myself, I want to win these battles too. 

This new life of mine, I am learning it day by day. And while I may win a few battles, they sometimes come back the very next day. And I believe that is okay, I believe that is normal. I believe I will fight these battles everyday for the rest of my life. They just may get easier as time goes on. I don't know. I just have to find the strength to fight again and again. I have to let myself feel Ryan's will for me to win ... I have to let myself feel the want to win too. If I want to win, I can. 

The kitchen battle though has been won (for now) by my strong will and need to create sweet and tasty things. Also, my husband was getting hungry.  ;) I definitely stayed away from the kitchen for a long time, and while I love restaurants and take out Ryan was most likely screaming "Get back in there! I want to see you make cookies and 'cuc-cakes'!" (cupcakes as Ryan would say) So, I had no flour but I had gluten free oats I use to make oatmeal in the morning with. I also felt the need to bake and really I just wanted a cookie. 

I hope you enjoy these as much as I did. I hope that when you find yourself fighting your own battles, strength will wash over you and push you to win. Please know, I am rooting for you. These battles we face, some are quick and others (like the ones I have) are terrible and last for what seems like forever. I will tell you the same things they tell me. 
They tell me God has a plan. 
They tell me you are strong. 
They tell me there is a light at the end of this darkness. 

But ... until we see the damn light, we will eat cookies and keep fighting. 


Salted Chocolate Almond Butter Cookies - Gluten Free

What You Need
- 3/4 cup of gluten free oats. I find mine at Trader Joes. 
- 1 cup smooth almond butter. Make sure it is un-salted. 
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup raw sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon real vanilla extract
- 1/2 a bag of semi-sweet (or dark chocolate depending on what you love) chocolate. 
- 1 tablespoon coarse sea salt. 

What You Do
- In a mixer toss in GF oats, both sugars, baking powder and almond butter. You will want to have it continue mixing until everything is incorporated. 
- Next add the egg and vanilla. Mix for at least a minute or more. If your dough looks a little dry add a few drops of water until it comes together. Be careful to not add to much. 
- Once the dough is glossy and forms a ball, place on parchment paper. Roll your dough up in the parchment paper and let it chill in the refrigerator. Let the dough chill for at least an hour. 
- When it is time to bake, pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. 
- Line your baking sheets with parchment paper. 
- Measure out your dough and roll balls that are 1 1/2 tablespoons in size. 
- Bake for about 10 minutes. Take out the cookies and let them finish off cooking while still on the baking sheet. 
- The sugars mixed with the GF oats in this dough make the cookie somewhat chewy in texture. When the sugar bakes in heat it melts, so when you pull the cookies out they will look semi un-done and flimsy. This is why you leave the cookies to finish off cooking on the baking sheet OUT of the oven. Once the cookies have cooled and stiffened you can move them to a cooling rack to await their chocolate. 
-In a double broiler (or microwave) melt the chocolate. 
-Once the chocolate is smooth and melted dip the cooled cookies. I dipped them half way so you can still see the texture of the cookies. Plus, it is easier and keeps your hands semi clean. ;)
-Place the chocolate dipped cookies back onto the cooling rack and sprinkle the sea salt on them. 
-Once the chocolate has hardened they are good and ready to be devoured. 


Baby Boy Bakery . © All rights reserved · Theme by Blog Milk · Blogger