Quick and Easy Toddler Thanksgiving Day Craft.

If you’re looking for an easy Thanksgiving craft to do, look no further.

Mila had a blast making these turkey day cards for family and one to keep. Most of the supplies I had on hand, minus the feathers and small canvas. I got both at the local dollar store.

Supplies:

  • Brown or copper paint
  • Red paint
  • Yellow paint
  • Orange paint
  • Feathers
  • Black marker
  • Tape
  • Computer paper
  • Scrapbook paper
  • Scissors

All you need to do is get your computer paper or canvas ready, paint your child’s hand like a turkey, and place it on the paper or canvas. It’s really as simple as that.

When you put paint in their hand, really put a lot on there or it’ll dry before you get everything painted. I painted the brown last and it seemed to help. With the one paint application, I was able to get four turkeys. One on canvas and the other three on paper.

After the turkeys dried a little, I glued on the feather and added the turkeys face and legs.

To make the three into a card, I taped them on scrapbook paper and wrote a little message on the back. Then it was done.

You can personalize these however you’d like or even add them to tea towels or plates with the right kind of plate. For us, it was easier to do this and they turned out adorable.

We all know this year is not a normal one, but it’s still nice to still make memories and send out cards to the ones we love.

If you give this Turkey Day craft a try, post in the comments so we can see. Lastly, Happy Thanksgiving!

The Night the World Changed

The rhythmic beeping of the hospital machines kept the rush of the room grounded in one place. There are people surrounding me. All the faces I love keep looking at me, but none of their comforting smiles are here. The nurses and doctors have solemn looks on their faces. Their mouths are moving, but I can’t hear what they are saying.

I can’t move and the light above me is blinding. All my body feels numb except the pressure in my belly. It is time and I am terrified.

There is only one option that I have and it’s the not one I ever wanted to choose. Reality is coming back to me. Everyone’s voices are becoming clearer and the beeping isn’t the only thing I can hear. My doctor, the one I’ve been seeing for over six months now, is telling me to breathe and to push. I remember the classes, but they never told me this would be an option. How can I keep going when I don’t know what’s going to happen next?

My body is more in control now than my mind. I’m holding my breath and everyone is counting. I feel him, but it’s not really him anymore.

Somehow, I’m still taking deep breaths and pushing on to the next moment. I know this will all be over soon, but I’m stuck in a place where I wish this was just it. There was no way I could turn back time, but navigating the future will be too hard. I get lost in my head during the moments of breathing. The beeping brings me back to the present.

“I can see his head. Only one more push and you’re here.”

My partner is staring at me. I can tell he’s scared too. The light is just so bright and I have to close my eyes to gain the strength to do this last act of love.

I push and I feel him enter the world. The room is silent and I feel empty. Isn’t there anyone that can say anything? I need someone to talk, to break the silence besides that dreaded beeping. As I look, I see them holding him. The one person I had been dreaming about for months, but I’ll never have him again.

“Does he have all his fingers and toes?”

It’s the only thing I can think to ask. I need some normalcy in this moment that’s anything, but normal. I hear a tiny yes. Still, no one knows what to say. They take him away from me, to the room next door. I want to get up, but I can’t.

Everything is getting cold. My eyes feel tired and I am weak. The room around me goes dark and I do too.

The beeping rings in my ear. I wake up. There’s just one nurse in my room. She sees that I’m awake and asks me if I need anything. The sun is starting to peak through the blinds. Somehow the world has continued on. I look at her and tears begin to fall from my eyes.

I feel her arms wrap around me and her calming shushing fills the room. She tells me he is beautiful as my hand covers my flattened belly. I wanted it all to be a horrible nightmare.

Time is passing quickly and slowly at the same time. I’m still crying into my nurse’s chest as she describes every detail of him to me. He has blond hair and the shape of my face. His hands are big and toes are long. There were pictures taken of him, but she is telling me about his pouty lips.

The door opens and I feel her retreat. Somehow, it’s time for me to already go home. My family packs up my belongs and the grief bag that someone slipped in my room. There’s an elephant that’s poking out and I hold on to it as I get seated into the wheelchair.

I see the room that he’s still in. He’s alone and I’m leaving him. Maybe he’s with me, but in a different way. All I know is I’m leaving and the world is swirling around me.

There isn’t the steady beeping on the car ride home. I walk in my room and see baby stuff with no baby to bring home. Life has ended for him and me too. All I can do is lay in bed and try to sleep.

Maybe when I wake up, this will all go away and maybe when I sleep, I’ll see him.

The Moon and the Sun.

I wonder if the Moon ever aches for the Sun.
For the Sun gives the Moon its light from afar,
Letting it shine brighter than all the stars.
The Moon and Sun will never be one,
But they are always connected together.
Just as you and I, forever.

I watch as the Sun gives life to all.
Each night she lets the world go dark,
But her nurturing light leaves a mark.
She has to go to make a special call.
On the side of the world she’s searching,
Yet, her beloved moon is just now perching.

I see the Moon wandering every night.
His movements make the waves crash,
And the world feels their splashes.
The Moon doesn’t know how this is right.
All the wandering, but always too late.
Why does this have to be their fate?

I feel the Moon aching for the Sun.
The wandering and waves aren’t bizarre,
It’s just the way the Moon and Sun are.
Their distance isn’t fair to none.
But they are always connected together.
Just as you and I, forever.

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day.

In 1988, Ronald Reagan declared the month of October to recognize the grief of parents who have lost a child. October 15th became the day to remember them. Since then, at 7pm no matter where you are in the world, a wave of light is held in honor of all the babies gone too soon.

All growing up, I didn’t know about pregnancy and infant loss. I didn’t realize there was a whole month dedicated to parents who were hurting and grieving their children. It wasn’t until Jensen had died that I even knew what grief really was. Since then, I know this heartache and I’ll never forget what October means to so many of us parents.

On this day and every day, I will continue to say his name and tell his story.

His name is Jensen. He was born April 5, 2016 in a quiet room, full of people who love him. Although he never made a sound, his life and presence here has always filled my heart and the space around me. He loved music and showing off on scans. I loved reading to him and wondering how he would look.

He may not physically be here, but he’s ever present in our lives. We continue to say his name and hang his picture. There are continued bonds that let us never forget his impact. It’s sad that he’s not here anymore, but I’m so happy that we had him in our lives for just a little bit.

I wish I never knew this type of loss. Some part of me wishes I was the naive girl I was before, but I’ll never be her again. I’ll always wish for a world full of Jensen. The questions that have circled my head over and over again continue to do so. I can picture him at the age he would be and wonder if he would have been a good baby and toddler and now child.

Every day I wish I could see Mila play with her big brother. She has so many questions about him and it breaks my heart every time I have to tell her he can’t come home. Sibling grief is difficult and they feel so deeply at a young age. I know he’s guiding her and loving her from afar, just as she does him.

We just miss and love him so much.

So, tonight, at 7pm, we’ll be lighting our candles at home to keep the wave of light going. If you’re home, i’d urge you to light one too. If not for Jensen or a child that’s close to you, for all the other babies that were taken far too soon.

The Next Stage of Toddlerhood.

Potty training… a journey that’s not for the weak.

Last year, I introduced Mila to her little potty. She did okay on it, but would rather go outside like Max. It’s okay. It’s funny and you can most definitely laugh. She’d sit on it through fall and most of winter, but she really was not interested.

Around when COVID hit and when she turned two, we really hit potty training hard. I bought her underwear and she did a good job of letting me know when she had to go. All summer, she’s been amazing with it. When I started working full time at the end of August, she had a few mishaps, but is back to no accidents. She can nap without having one and has slept through the night a few times too.

I’m so proud of her.

The last time I bought diapers, I told myself this was it. It’d be the last time I ever bought them and I’d only buy pull ups from then on. Honestly, I thought it was a lot of wishful thinking. Then, last night she wore her last diaper and were in the land of panties and pulls ups for night time and long periods away.

This is a huge deal. She got a coloring book today to celebrate and a popsicle after school. I tell her she’s my big, good girl so she knows how good of a job she’s doing.

Lasts of anything are hard, even the last diapers.

Ever since losing Jensen, the first and lasts with Mila have been monumental. I know they have a bigger meaning, but I try not to put it all on Mila. I just hope she knows how proud I am of her and all that she does.

Tonight, we’re celebrating being diaper free and the next stage of toddlerhood. I’m so happy to be her mom and can’t wait to see what she does next.

Mom Fail: Dream Edition.

I just want to start off by saying, I’m not exactly sure if this should be categorized as a mom fail, but I’ll leave it up to you at the end.

Mila has long, beautiful, thick hair. It’s always crazy to me to see how much hair she actually has. I think a lot of people dream about their daughters having nice hair, but, if you’re like me, you didn’t realize how much of a struggle it is. She’s had to have her hair brushed EVERY SINGLE DAY since she’s been a newborn and still hates it with a passion. Lately, it’s gotten worse because she doesn’t want to sit down and wait for me to do it.

Since it’s long, it gets a lot of knots and tangles. My mom always called them rats and that’s what I’m calling them for Mila too. Every night and morning, our routine is to get the rats out of her hair. I don’t even know if she knows what a rat looks like or whatever, but she knows it’s bad and needs out.

I wake up and go to sleep talking about these rats, but I didn’t know how much it was impacting me.

After our normal rat evacuation, I ended up falling asleep with her. That night, I had one of the most strangest dreams. There were actual rats everywhere chasing Mila and I had to shoo them away. It was like little faces and eyes constantly looking at me and I was trying to throw them out of the house. I felt like I was struggling through the dream to get them all away and Mila wanted no part of it in my dream either. Just the whole entire night/dream, I was getting rats away from her.

You can laugh. I would laugh too.

Let’s just say, the next day I went to go get detangling hair spray to add to our after bath routine. The less ‘rats’ I have to think of and deal with, the better.

I’ve yet had any other rat related dreams and plan on keeping it that way.

Again, maybe not a mothering fail in terms of not providing for Mila, but definitely a dream fail, to say the least. A little tip to not have rat nightmares, buy detangling spray before that’s what you think of before bed.

Grief: Four and a Half Years Out.

Why does it seem like every time I come to write here it feels like forever since the last time that I have? Maybe because it has been.

In the last few weeks, I’ve turned a whole year older, started back college classes, and am working full time. So, technically I haven’t had a lot of time to write, but I’m missing it. My goal for twenty-seven (how old I am) was to blog three times a week. Guys, I already failed! But, you can always start fresh.

The last time I wrote, I shared that I started back with therapy. I’m still going strong with it and it’s been helping in a lot of ways. In others, I still have a lot of work. Rome wasn’t built in a day though. Therapy has given me a lot to think about: past traumas, my grief, and my future. I should say, it’s given me constructive ways to think about all of it. Anxiety forces you to think of all those things, but I’m starting to see how I can still function and think about those things too.

Two weeks ago, I sort of had a full circle moment. My therapist and I are going through my trauma timeline. It sounds a lot more… scary… than it actually is. It’s still a little scary though. On that particular day, we talked about Jensen.

I found out… it’s still really hard to talk about the events of that day and the weeks following.

Duh, right? You don’t just wake up one day and are completely healed when your child dies. It doesn’t work like that. Shouting that to everyone that thinks it does. I’ve told Jensen’s story to so many times: out loud, writing it down, and in my head. Earlier in my grief, I was getting more comfortable with used to talking about his death and all my emotions after to other people. It’s been a little while since I have and I didn’t realize how big of a difference it was.

When my therapist asked if I was alright sharing about Jensen, his death, and how I handled things after, I told her yes with no inkling that I would be… weeping during it all. Yes, weeping.

I told her about my pregnancy and how hard it was emotionally on me. When we got to the day we found out he died, I went into detail about how my stomach just dropped and it felt like I was dead inside. I skipped around on the actual details of the birth because I felt my throat closing up. The post emotions of his birth and funeral and life after were hard to talk about too. It was just so difficult to bring back all those feelings and put myself back in that place again. That talk and just thinking about how traumatic his death was and still is has really.. re-affected me?

So many times parents are told they’re going to be better with time after losing their child. I’m not going to disagree in the fact that everyday life gets easier. It does. Your routine changes and life still goes on. That sounds harsh and I wouldn’t have wanted to hear that in the first few months after, but it’s true (for me). I think when outside people see parents after loss reemerging into their routine or job or whatever, they think it’s all ‘better.’ On the outside, they’re complying with society and not being outwardly upset.

For me, I can see my switch. I have to do what I have to do to work and do school and parent Mila and whatever else may need done. When I’m out in the world, I’m not as quick to snap that my son’s dead to people that say things. I’m more aware that the world isn’t really… sensitive to dead babies or uncomfortable grief. It’s not a settling thing at all, so I get that. I don’t bring Jensen up in every conversation anymore. When someone leaves him out or forgets him, I internalize it. I still feel the hurt, but I try to make others feel.. better.

BUT (!!!) it still hurts. I’m functional, but I still miss Jensen with every ounce of me.

I can tell you certain comments sting and having someone not mention or forget about him feels so awful. Talking about it all with my therapist made me realize what I (and so many people) went through was the worst thing ever.

The silence. The decisions. The hollowness. The tears. The solitude. The grief.

I think I got into the routine of being a mom to Mila and life, that I put those emotions on the back burner. I let the outside, ‘it gets better,’ get to me. Letting everyone else be comfortable in my child dying has put my real emotions, trauma, and heartbreak in an unaccessible place; until it has to come up.

Through the teary session and the last two weeks, I’ve definitely given myself more credit for all I’ve endured through losing Jensen. Our minds try to protect itself from all that pain. I’m thankful for that, truly. I guess I just wanted to say through this whole thing is I miss him and I’m proud of where I am today.

I think it’s also been a productive thing to feel all of these emotions again. Jensen would be starting preschool this year, which I haven’t talked about with anyone. I’ve been suppressing a lot of things lately (thanks exhaustion). Sharing Jensen with someone new and showing my love for him and how I care for him now has helped this stage of healing. I know I’ll always feel this emotional response when talking about him and it’s okay. It’s okay to be sad he’s not here, just like it’s okay to celebrate his life.

There isn’t a rule book about losing a baby or child at any age. If you haven’t been through it, you know nothing about it. That loss and hole in your heart doesn’t get easier, it just gets lighter to carry through time.

Here’s Jensen’s story if you’ve never read it or would like to read it again. I wrote it in 2016 and have been thinking about rewriting it again to see how I remember it almost five years out. If I do, you can bet I’ll share it here.

How Does That Make You Feel? cont.

Yesterday, I shared a post on Newsymom about how I started going to therapy again.

It is DIFFICULT to talk about therapy. I grew thinking it was a hush hush thing and only people that were deranged went. Obviously, that’s far from the case. What’s funny is that this blog originally was about Jensen and documenting stillbirth, grief, and my journey after loss. Like life, it’s taken different directions and I try to write about what makes me smile.

I’ve sort of backed myself in a strange corner. There was a point where I felt like I couldn’t express my grief anymore and the other… ‘troubling’ things in my life weren’t allowed to be expressed either. I talked about what I could and what I felt others were comfortable with. I guess that’s the type of person I am… trying to make others feel comfortable while putting myself on the back burner. Hello HUGE topic I talk about with my therapist. I’ve been thinking about making a schedule for this blog and delving into other things besides the light and happy. Not for anyone else, but for myself and to continue my healing journey.

Anyways, I think it’s a mix of where I’m at in my grief journey, parenting Mila, and what’s being reintroduced in therapy. I felt like I needed to share my new experience with talking to a professional and how it looks different this time around. There are three big factors I can instantly tell that are being more impactful already.

1. The right person.

There was nothing wrong with my therapist beforehand. She helped me in so many ways with the initial year after losing Jensen. I have no idea where my headspace would have been without her helping me along the way. But, it got to a point where I felt like I couldn’t really connect with her anymore and, like some relationships, our time just ended.

This time, I feel extremely connected to my therapist. I’m unsure if it’s the way we talk (I’ll get into this in a second), how she’s helped make deeper connections with me, or if our personalities just click. It feels like she really listens and puts the way I think first. When I’m talking, I don’t feel like I’m boring her and she reacts the way I need her to. I feel like that sounds so basic, but it’s hard when trying to find those things in a therapist,

I think life has a way of bringing us the right people and I’m glad I’ve found her.

2. Being 100% honest.

I’m unsure if I’m the only person that wasn’t completely honest with my therapist. Four years ago, I was not honest with my therapist if it wasn’t directly related to my grief with losing Jensen. That sounds AWFUL, but directly ties in finding the right therapist. I can remember telling half truths or leaving our important information. It impacted how my healing went and was detrimental because I couldn’t even be honest with myself during the time I really needed to be.

This time around, I made myself accountable. I told my therapist I had a hard time of telling the whole truth my first go with therapy. My main reason was not wanting to look bad and not being trusting of another person. I straight up told my therapist that what I’m going to say in the next months of working with her aren’t always going to be… good. In saying that, I told her I wanted to trust her and get myself to a better place.

During my sessions, I’m really working. I’m being honest with myself and her. Sometimes it’s hard to say certain things out loud, but I know it’s best. I don’t always feel my best right after our hour, but I know I’m getting back what I put into this time.

3. A happy space.

Besides the two reasons I stated before, the biggest difference is I’m not actually leaving my house to talk to my therapist. I downloaded an app (BetterHelp) so I can text, call, and video chat with my therapist. Every week, I directly talk to her for an hour and I can message her anytime I need to on other days.

There’s no awkward waiting rooms and I’m not in an unfamiliar place. I can be in the comfort of my home and not feel like i’m doing the walk of shame after I cry for an hour. Being able to communicate on the phone is also more familiar… not saying I don’t talk to others face-to-face, but you get what I mean. On top of that, with COVID, I don’t have to worry about the precautions I’d have to take by going to an appointment. I can also talk to her while Mila watches TV and am not stressing if I can’t find a babysitter on certain nights.

It allows me to have the freedom to talk in my safe and happy space, while getting the help I deserve.

I’ll never say I know everything about therapy or can tell you it most definitely will help your situation. I know that it’s helped me and I’m not ready to stop anytime soon. There’s a deep tugging that is telling me by doing this I’m helping my future and stopping so many traumatic cycles. In my Newsymom article, I wanted others to know that it’s okay to choose to go to therapy. I want to echo that same sentiment here too.

I deserve to be happy and mentally healthy. I can’t change the things that have or will happen, but I get to decide how I handle them. I wish that for everyone.

If you’re thinking about signing up for therapy or want to browse different options, if you’d like to use BetterHelp, use this referral. You get a week free and so do I. I highly recommend BetterHelp and you can find a ton of information on their website.

Weird Things My Toddler Does: Part Five.

I think we already know two things about toddlers: they’re weird and they love to snack.

Mila is no different.

Usually when she wakes up in the morning, she runs and gets a fruit snack to chomp on. It’s been our routine for weeks. So the other morning when she went to the kitchen to grab a snack, I thought I was going to have to open her fruit snacks up for her. Instead, I heard a dragging sound…

This girl brought a whole bucket of chicken to bed to eat. Not your usual morning snack, right?

After a good laugh, she ran out for something else. I’m partly blaming myself and laziness for not putting things away the night before…

Chicken and a coke. What more could a girl want when she first wakes up? Thankfully, all the coke was gone, but she did eat a bunch.

Toddlers are hungry and weird, but I wouldn’t have it any different.

What’s the weirdest thing you or your toddler has snacked on first thing in the morning?

Monday Recipe: Kielbasa Power Bowl

On Instagram, I noticed this hashtag: #quarantinerecipeswap. So many people are running out of ideas of what to cook next and want to revamp their meals for the month. Believe me, Mila and I are right there too!

Today, I figured I’d share one of the easiest and tastiest recipes I make frequently: a Kielbasa Power Bowl. It can be converted to what you have on hand AND made meatless. Honestly, it’s a pretty simple recipe and seems really basic. Sometimes, that’s all we need though!

Ingredients:

  • One Package of Kielbasa (or a can of chickpeas if you want it meatless)
  • Two Medium Sweet Potatoes
  • 1/2 Yellow Onion
  • Head of Broccoli
  • 2 Medium Peppers (whatever color you like best)
  • 1/4 cup Quinoa
  • Cheese – to sprinkle
  • Balsamic Glaze
  • Olive Oil
  • Spices: salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, Italian seasoning

Feel free to use whatever veggies you have on hand. I typically have all of these at my house. Mila loves broccoli and peppers, so it works out for us. I’ve also made it with carrots, brussels sprouts, and zucchini!

First, preheat your over to 400. Then get to cutting. Everyone has their cutting preference, but this is how I do it. Everything is really ‘eatable’ and not too big. Then I take the veggies and put them in a bowl. I get a coating of olive oil and the mix of seasoning on there. Make sure everything’s covered and put it in a baking pan. After your oven is preheated, put the veggies in there for 10-15 minutes. Put the kielbasa in the same bowl with olive oil and seasoning and wait to add in later.

Then, start boiling water (or broth) for your quinoa. Rinse the quinoa off in a small strainer, or you can do what I do and rinse it off to the best of your abilities without one. It’s always a fun challenges You can follow the packaging directions, but I usually just double the amount of liquid to quinoa. Sometimes I add more, depending on how it cooks. When the water starts boiling, pour your rinsed quinoa in the pot, and turn down the heat some. Stir every so often. It doesn’t take too long to cook; maybe 15 minutes. While it’s cooking, I usually add some spices to taste! After that time, remove from heat, let it stand for about 5-10 minutes and fluff it with a fork.

In the middle of cooking quinoa, your timer will go off for the veggies. Take them out and add the kielbasa in. Give it all a good mix. Put it in for another ten minutes. I usually then take it out, mix everything up once more and stick it in the over another 5-10 minutes too.

Once everything’s cooked and cooled, assemble!

I usually start with the quinoa on the bottom, then lay the kielbasa and veggie mix on top. To add a little something with it, Mila asks for cheese on top (which makes it better, I’ll admit) and ill drizzle balsamic glaze on top. If I have avocados, I’ll slice some for on top as well.

It’s truly an easy meal that’s packed with veggies and taste so good! Mila, Miss Picky Eater lately, are her whole bowl.

I hope you enjoy this recipe and try it soon! This week I’ll make a new recipe and share how it goes with you guys. If you have any recipes to share for the swap, comment below and I’ll try them out!