Toddler Friendly Summer Bucket List – Paint Outside

Art is an experience, not an object.

-Robert Motherwell

Mila’s first painting was for Christmas. I wanted to do a craft with her, but she was too young to do something intense. So, I bought some red, green, and silver paint and a canvas and she went at it. In my perspective, it was so beautiful and festive. It made me smile and I had it hanging for way too long after Christmas. Since then, she’s done three others. They’re all different and each time she learns a new way to create.

I know I sound like I have a painting prodigy, I just love watching her create.

Yesterday felt like the perfect day to check something off of our bucket list. It wasn’t too hot like this weekend is supposed to be, but nice enough to be outside. I had picked up new summer, ‘mermaid’ paint for this project a few weeks before, so I just went with the flow.

Mila absolutely loves being outside and she’s only painted while sitting in her high chair. I was excited to see how’d she do and I was not disappointed.

For Mila, at her age, I put dots of color randomly on the canvas and gave her different sized brushes to start. She instantly went to each dot and started going. It was like she couldn’t take them not being drawn out and circled the canvas in a precise manner. Then I put different paints on her brush so she could see that’s where paint can come too. After getting rid of all that paint, she experimented with her hands… then the rest of her body. At one point I swear there was more paint on her body than the canvas. It’s a good thing we were outside. Then she figured out she could splat paint from the bottle. She shook and shook it to make an even bigger mess.

At the end, Mila created another beautiful painting and it wasn’t a huge clean up. She decided to run after the cat while I gathered everything up. When I went to take pictures of her and her artwork, she wasn’t the happiest with me. I’m guessing she was over getting her picture taken, but she has years left of me telling her to say cheese.

This has been one of my favorite bucket list items to do. We always have fun painting, but there’s just something about summertime and being outside.

I don’t know if she’ll grow up to like art or to keep doing this, so I’m making sure I keep all of these canvases. Making these memories are my favorite thing in the world. You bet that this new piece is hanging on my wall. It’s the first thing anyone who walks in my door sees. I hope one day she’ll be proud to see whatever she likes to do hung up and displayed. Hopefully she always knows how proud I am of her and how loved she is.

If you do decide to do this with your toddler, I’m just warning you, it took a while to get all the paint off. I had her play in the water and scrubbed the paint off her legs. A few hours later I found spots I missed, but we just made it apart of the fun. Don’t let the mess deter you. It’s well worth it.

And now on to the next adventure.

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My Favorite Way to ‘Capture’ My Toddler.

Her ‘yeah right, I can’t be captured or contained, mom‘ look.

Okay… so the title of this blog post is a tad misleading. I’m definitely not in the business of setting up traps to keep Mila from messing with things she’s not supposed to have; although, it wouldn’t be a bad idea. Instead I’m talking about all the pictures I capture of her.

Let me put this in perspective for everyone. Currently, I have 10859 pictures on my camera roll. By the time this gets posted there will most definitely be more. I’m actually afraid to look how many pictures I have on Google Photos (which is an amazing app with unlimited space!), since it has all my pictures from college. Most of that gigantic number is pictures of Mila. I’m always snapping photos of her so I don’t forget a thing. She’s probably going to be pretty embarrassed of all of them when she’s older, but I’ll worry about that then. Even though I love Google Photos and feel like they’re safe on there, I still worry about losing them. I would be heartbroken if they all just went away. The one thing I regret with Jensen is not having enough pictures of him and we unfortunately lost one of them. So this is a big deal for me to capture and keep hers.

Before she turned one, I wanted to make a HUGE scrapbook of her first year, but I didn’t have time. Instead, I started browsing for photo book apps. After I compared a few of them, I chose to start using Shutterfly and all I can say is I wish I would have started using it earlier.

Every month you get a FREE 6×6 softcover book with 40 pages. It may seem a little small, but I love mine and have put all Mila’s month pictures in from her first year. I also upgrade it to the hardcover book which is a minimal charge. If you have the app, they always have freebies you can get to add to your order. I’ve bought three easel back canvases (a 5×7 canvas of a picture of your choice), a leather pocket that holds my cards for my phone, and other sized photo books too. The only negative to Shutterfly is the shipping prices. They’re not awful, I think I just hate paying for it.

Mila LOVES looking through her books and trying to say everyone’s names in them. For me, it’s so nice to actually look at hard copies of pictures. I don’t know about everyone else, but it’s a relief when I can just not have my phone on me for the night. When I want to look at pictures and not stare at my phone, I just flip through our photo books. I know it probably sounds lame, but they’re just so nice to have. It makes me miss the days where my family would get out the picture totes, look at as many as we could, and tell the stories behind them. I hope Mila and I will do the same when she gets older too… maybe with the pictures being more in order though. Sorry mom!

Honestly, I wish I would have started getting my free books as soon as they started doing it. I actually recommend people to Shutterfly as much as I can, especially to new moms. It’s awesome you can make the books from your phone and recap the month or whatever. Not saying that new moms have the time.. LOL.. moms have no time. BUT, I know how many pictures we take and love to see. So, when I got my notification today that I could order this months freebie, I knew I wanted to share about it on here in case someone didn’t know about their offers. Like I said before, there are a ton of other photo book apps out there too! If you use one of them, let me know about it and if they have great freebies too. I can’t ever have enough pictures in my house.

Mom Fail: Early Morning Edition.

Ever since Mila slept through the night (well mostly slept through), she’s liked to sleep in. The earliest she’ll wake up on her own is around 8, but usually around 9:30/10. After the initial wake up, she likes to be cuddled and ‘tells’ me about her dreams. Totally not complaining about her desire to sleep in… unless we have somewhere to be in the morning. This weekend happened to hold one of those times.

All week, I swore and told everyone I had to be up early on Saturday. We had to be in Zoar by 9am. I set alarms two days before and tried my hardest to get Mila to sleep early so she could wake up on time the days before too. On Friday, I set our outfits out, made overnight oats, and struggled to get her to sleep at a ‘normal’ bed time. Before I went to sleep, I triple checked to make sure the alarms didn’t somehow go off and you know I had 15 of them set to make sure we woke up.

Fortunately, everything went semi smooth on Saturday morning. I woke up when I needed to and got ready before Mila even stirred. When I woke her up, she did fairly well. I’m pretty sure she was still half asleep, but we got packed up and we’re on our way. Although everything went smooth, I was still running a little behind. After I passed Mila’s overnight oats back to her, I sent a text letting the person know I’d be a little late. I was about halfway to Zoar, so 15 minutes out, when I got her text back... turns out, our pictures were the next day, Sunday. I had completely read the previous message wrong and my mind was set. After the stress of making sure Mila was up and we got there at a decent time, I just started to laugh. This was just our luck and my little mom fail.

We ended up making my little mistake into an adventure by going to play at Tuscora Park and crossing another item off our bucket list. Mila absolutely loves going to different parks and even though we’ve been there before. She still had a blast. It’s fascinating to see how much she’s changed in her play and interactions with other kids.

She can’t quite get up the big slide, but refuses to sit in the baby swing. If kids are smaller than her, she’ll go up and try to touch them. If they’re bigger, she thinks she’s big too and tries to talk to them. No matter who’s around though, I’m still her safe place and home. She runs to me when she’s scared or upset or just needs a hug. That warms my heart more than anything and let’s me know she loves me no matter how much I mess up.

I love being that for her and I hope I always can be; even though I think she’ll be less and less forgiving when I get her up early for no reason.

If you’re wondering, Sunday went fantastically. She smiled for pictures, went to a birthday party, and got to play outside. She took TWO naps after fighting me to take one lately. We even had to wake up early this morning and she did so well. Hopefully tomorrow, the fourth day in a row, she does the same. Fingers crossed.

So instead of getting mad at myself for my early morning fail, Mila has taught me to not take everything so seriously and to make adventures out of missed ones (or ones that we were just way too early for).

I hope everyone had a great weekend! Mila and I have a busy week ahead and I can’t wait to share our next adventures; fails or not.

“Is She Your Only One?”

A few weeks ago, Mila and I went to the mall. It’s her favorite place to run around and play. On this particular day, she was waving at everyone around her and it prompted an older couple to strike up a conversation. They told me how cute and friendly she is. Asked how old she was and that she was big for her age. Then the inevitable question was asking…

“Is she your only one?”

The awkward silence that took place following this question was me deciding how I’d word my answer…

“Nope. She has an older brother. He’d be three.”

Usually the past tense sort of ends the questions, but then there are others who like to ask more.

“Oh, I bet they love to play with each other. Siblings make such good friends when they get older.”

I just thought, how do I get myself out of this conversation. I’m not embarrassed Jensen died and I advocate for him and stillbirth all the time, but I chose to just nod instead. It sort of felt like a loss, but I didn’t have the strength to say it out loud that day. The nod satisfied them and they went on to talk about how two kids is the best and they keep each other occupied. They kept going on and I just stopped listening and watched Mila smile and play.

Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if I just had said, my son died, then walked away. Would the face they would have made make me feel better? Would it have let them know their invasive questions can actually hurt those who’ve experienced loss and/or infertility? I think they would just think I was bitter and rude for outwardly expressing my grief and maybe that’s why I didn’t want to say anything.

There was a time in my grief, I would answer very direct that I had a son named Jensen and he died. So yes, I have children, but he’s not in my arms. Sometimes I think I did it for the shock factor and other times because I needed to talk about him out loud. Other times I’d love when people asked me because I wanted to talk about him and often they would share stories about their or someone close to them’s experience with loss.

It’s been a harder question to answer with Mila. I’ve always said that I have to kids and usually just speak about Jensen in the past tense and it’s clear with what’s happened. Sometimes I completely ignore them because a new response has came with Mila…

At least you have her with you.”

I’ve said many times throughout this blog that the ‘at least’ platitudes are the worst. It ALWAYS seems like a response when they find out I have both Jensen and Mila. Honestly, it hurts so bad to hear this. I’m so thankful I have her here with me, more grateful than anything, but there’s no at least with child loss.

Yes, I have her, but I also have her big brother too. He should be here. Jensen should be running around the mall with her, showing her the best places to be ornery. He should be giving her love and teaching her. Moms or dads shouldn’t have to bury their babies and siblings shouldn’t have to miss their brothers and sisters.

I wish I could be strong enough every time in answering the way ruin, “is she your only one?” by saying this: No. She’s not my only one. She has a big brother named Jensen, who’s in heaven. He should be here playing with her everyday and it’s devastating he’s not. I’m thankful to have her here with me, but wish he could be here too.

But we’re not strong everyday and not everyone gets the same answer. Some days I’m short and others I’ll talk about Jensen for as long as they’ll let me. I hope one day people will pick up on when someone’s comfortable with talking about children because it’s not an easy subject for everyone. Or there should be an understanding that babies die and it’s okay to talk about it. It shouldn’t be a taboo subject and for many of us, it’s our reality.

How do you answer this question or ‘do you have any kids?

Stars and Stripes: Beach Edition.

Fourth of July weekend did not go entirely as planned. By that, I mean it didn’t go at all how I thought it would.

I’ve spent every Fourth of July weekend in my hometown. There’s a parade, fireworks, and a big cookout. Heck, that’s why I picked a few things on our summer bucket list. So when my mom texted and asked if we wanted to go to the beach for the weekend instead, I was a little shocked. But, who can pass up the beach? So we packed up and headed to Savannah, Georgia, which is right by Tybee Island and Hilton Head.

Instead of outlining everything we did, I’ll just say we had a blast. I swear Mila gets more adventurous and hilarious every single day. It felt like we were either chasing after her or laughing with her.

One of the funniest things that kept happening is her saying her new word. The last two weeks she’s been learning the word ‘hot.’ Like if there’s coffee around or the stoves on, I tell her it’s hot and not to touch. Of course, she’s been experimenting on how to say it and it’s the cutest. Check the video at the end of the post to see what I’m talking about. Anyways, the first day we went to Tybee Island and we got her out of the truck. It was like 100 degrees out and like thick air. I don’t think Mila has ever experienced heat like that. My brother’s fiancée, Chelsea, was holding her and Mila she looked at her and just said ‘hooooooot,’ like it had finally clicked what hot actually meant. After that, every time we went outside, she had to let us know she felt the heat.

We also learned even when Mila’s teeth are hurting and the suns too intense for her to eat, she’ll always take a mouthful of sand. If the sand wasn’t in her mouth, it was all over her body or being thrown on someone else’s. It’s a good thing she likes the water because we were always going back in to get it off of her. As soon as we went back to land, she’d just cover herself again. We pick our battles as parents, don’t we?

No matter if she was covered in sand or pushing down sand castles, she was having a blast. Somehow after applying sunblock multiple times throughout the days, she still ended up with a perfect beach tan. The Fourth of July this year didn’t come with fireworks or a parade, but I think it was one of our best.

Even though Mila and I didn’t check off the expected bucket list items, we did check off beach day and made way more memories than I imagined. I wonder which ones we’ll get to next.

How did your holiday weekend go? And make sure to check out this cute video of Mila saying ‘hot.’

Toddler Friendly Summer Bucket List – Go On A Hike

This week is going to be full of crossing bucket list items off and today was no different. Although the Coshocton Three Rivers Bikeway might technically not be a hike, it is with a one year old. Good thing we had the best company in tow.

Located just outside of Roscoe Village in Coshocton, Ohio, the Three Rivers Bikeway is an easy walking, biking, and pushing a stroller path. It’s paved so it’s smooth sailing and wide enough to get around people too. Although we went on seemingly the hottest day of the year (not complaining), the water and trees provided us a nice breeze and shade. I didn’t keep a step count, but the trails around two miles long.

There were lots of benches and spots to picnic along the way. Locks that were once used for canals provide even more shade and exploration. I can definitely see lots of places to take pictures, maybe Mila and I will be back in the fall to do so.

The path circles a pretty big pond, which was beautiful. If you’re into fishing, there were spots to fish. We didn’t have our bathing suits, but the aquatics park was there. I was a little jealous of everyone swimming and even Mila was pointing to it. If you go and have extra time, I’d suggest going there or even taking a canal boat ride.

Although we just walked the pathway, it was really nice and gives kids a lot to look at. Mila was pointing to all the animals, trees and water areas. As I said, it was super hot or we would have probably explored more. One thing I wish I would have done was brought better bug spray. Mila didn’t get bit, but the mosquitoes attacked me. I’ll be itchy, but at least they didn’t get her. BUT I’d definitely recommend taking big spray and lots of water!

Afterwards, we went into Roscoe Village toneat at Warehouse Stein n Stein & Lock 27 Pub. My best friend went with us and it was his birthday too (happy birthday again to you!). If you go, definitely get the bacon and mac n cheese burger. It did not disappoint! The restaurant was kid friendly, even when Mila was grumpy and ready to leave.

We were there for a few hours, but could have easily spent all day here. I can imagine I’d be a great day trip when she’s older and can really experience all of what Roscoe Village has to offer.

I am DEFINITELY checking this off as a hike, but imagine we’ll go on more this summer. It’s another day to remember and so many memories were made.

Mila and I are both looking forward to this holiday weekend and will have another adventure to tell you about. We hope it’s a safe and fun one for you too.

If you have any other places (hikes, museums, or adventures in general) you’d think Mila and I would like, let me know in the comments!

Mila Visits the ER… Again.

I’ve went back and forth on whether I wanted to post about this incident due to some serious self-inflicted mom shaming. After Friday’s house cleanse, Mila, my mom, and I had to make another special trip the the emergency room. If you’re keeping tabs, that’s twice in one week.

It’s not a really elaborate story and it wasn’t anything super traumatic. Pretty much, after the house cleanse we went to my parents house and when we were leaving Mila almost fell down their porch steps. In efforts to save her from another fall and potential head injury, my mom grabbed Mila’s hand. As she grabbed her hand, she was still falling and her arm made a big POP. Instantly, she started screaming and crying. At home, it didn’t quit and when I tried to comfort nurse her, her arm popped again and there was no end of the screaming in sight. After a quick internet search and text messages, we packed our things and went to the hospital.

Let’s just say, the whole ride up I was worried.

Here we were again. I had no idea what the nurses and doctors thought of me. Mila has this huge black eye, scraps on her knee, and bruises. She plays hard all the time. I don’t limit what she does and do my best to keep her safe, but she’s a kid.

The first hour and a half was rough. We had an awful nurse who kept telling Mila she was fine and to just be quiet. I didn’t think she was the best person to have for a child who is only 14 months old and has no idea why she’s in pain… but whatever. Mila kept crying through everything and they didn’t have individual rooms since they were so busy. She just wanted held and comforted, so that’s what we did. During this time, she wouldn’t let anyone touch or arm or couldn’t put pressure on it. They ordered X-rays, but we just had to wait.

Then, all of the sudden, something switched. My mom had to step outside and when she did, Mila decided she wasn’t hurt anymore.

She started playing with me and pushing off on this with her ‘bad arm.’ I immediately knew her accident wasn’t as bad as we originally thought. Then when my mom walked back in and Mila pointed and said ‘Gi,’ it was all over.

At around 12:40am, Mila took part in ‘walking’ my mom, playing at the table, and took part in running a half marathon. No joke on this. She ran for like 45 minutes straight. I was tired watching her.

She did a great job of entertaining everyone else in the waiting room too. Everyone got waved and talked too. They were laughing and smiling with her, which I think helped them waiting too. Even though I was exhausted watching her is always a treat.

I ended up opting out of getting her an X-ray and the doctor agreed with me. Around 1:15am we got a room and she got checked out again. The doctor said it sounded like Mila had nurses elbow, which is a dislocation around the wrist. There’s way more technical terms and a better description but that’s the best I got. She said it sounds like it dislocated when mom tried to grab her and popped back in when I was comforting her. It’s a common thing that can happen and I’m guessing Mila will frequent the ER throughout her childhood too.

Before the night played out like it did, I seriously thought CPS was going to be called on me. I’ve really let myself feel bad for her black eye and falling off the counter. Then being back in the hospital again… it made me feel like an awful parent. I just keep reminding myself that I just have an adventurous baby and things just happen.

So here’s another look into our life and this messy business of motherhood. No matter how crazy our life is, I wouldn’t change it for the world.

I Got My House Blessed After Spooky Occurrences and This is What Happened.

**Warning: this post talks about sensitive issues that some may or may not be comfortable with. There may also be people who don’t believe in what I’m about to write about. No matter, this post will describe my experience with spirits in my house.**

Over the last few weeks, weird things have been going on. It all started after I painted my front door. Mila started having nightmares and some electronics acted up. I didn’t really think anything of it because the house has always had strange things happen. Usually the smoke detector in Jensen room will go off; like every single morning. My remotes always go missing, then mysteriously end up in the middle of the floor a few days later. Then there are just times I feel like I’m being watched. BUT it all got worse after the door was painted.

A week after it was done, I had gotten everything ready for bed and I was laying down on my phone. Mila was in bed with me and everything but her white noise was shut off. All of the sudden I heard this woman sobbing. The crying was coming from my living room, like where the couch sits. All the hairs on my body stood up and I couldn’t let myself look in the doorway.

The very next day, I told myself I wasn’t going to let something get to me in my own house. I sat out in my living room, watching TV, and waited. Just when I thought everything was all in my head, I heard three taps on my window…

I immediately knew something was wrong.

Throughout the next few weeks, there were unexplained noises and Mila started to change. She didn’t want to sleep and when she did, she’d wake up screaming. I wondered what I could do, but figured it’d be okay.

On the day Mila fell, everything changed. Before she fell, the barn door between my living room and bedroom unlatched and closed right after she woke up from a nap. There was no explanation of how it could have just up and closed. I’d be lying if I told you it didn’t terrify me, but I did not feed into it. About two hours later, she fell. After making the decision to take her to the ER, I had my friend come over to pick us up. Right before we left, there was a huge crash or unexplainable sound. We couldn’t find anything that fell, but there was a loud noise. There were more important matters at hand so I didn’t think about it until I knew Mila was okay.

The day after she fell, I made the decision to contact a paranormal group to come cleanse and bless my home.

I’ve NEVER done anything like this and was pretty nervous at the thought. What if it stirred up more things? Or I didn’t like the thought of pushing Jensen out of my house if he was here too. There were a lot of things running through my mind, but the most important? Mila.

After making the call and talking about it to my friends and family, the house sort of calmed down. Besides Mila waking up every morning, going into the laundry room, shutting the door, and playing/laughing/talking to someone in there. Then on Thursday night, the day before the blessing, the house… was very active.

A ball that has to be hit to light off kept going off after Mila went to sleep. It went on for the whole hour I watched it. I’ll post the video I took at the end of the post. Then when I went into my living room, I heard footsteps in the room behind me and in my kitchen. There were unexplained noises and shuffling all over the house. Plus, I just genuinely felt uncomfortable. The next morning (Friday) the light up ball started acting up again and another ball rolled all by itself.

Yeah, I was a little freaked out, but I was hopeful the blessing would help. I know this post is getting long, but I’ll keep the next part short.

The team came to my house around 6pm. My mom, my brother’s fiancée, and I were there for them to start their investigation. The guy I was most in contact with says he’s a medium too. From what I could tell, he was able to tell which spots had the most activity before I even told him. He identified four different spirits in my house: an old woman, an old man, a young woman, and one that he couldn’t really get a good read on. The two older ones had a strong attachment to my house and the other two just were here. They weren’t related to me, but were pretty grump that I was in their house and changing things. He also let me know there were four ‘portals’ in my house and then went on to close them. After closing them, the blessing started. I was involved with this to reclaim my home and it really felt like I was taking back power in a productive way. He ended up blessing us and the house before he left and the other two are going to send me any other evidence they caught on tape.

I definitely went through physical and mental changes through the blessing. When he was closing portals, the temperature in my house rose and it got so hot. Usually my house is freezing so this was weird for me. Then right before the blessing started, I felt completely drained. I had a horrible head and neck ache that came on all the sudden. As it started though, I felt my strength come back and I was able to really help throughout it. Afterwards, my house feels lighter and more peaceful. The temperature is more consistent than it ever has been before too.

So do I think it was helpful? Absolutely. It’s just happened and I think I need to wait a few weeks, but for now it has.

In regards to one of my biggest fears, pushing Jensen out, the medium gave me some solace. He let me know Jensen passed through when he died, but he is one of my spirit guides. Whenever I need him, I can just picture him in my head or talk to him and he’ll be right here.

Just knowing he moved on and is safe was such a good feeling for me. I want him around me always, but I never wanted him to be stuck. It makes me smile to know that he comes here and wants to help me. I’ve always known he’s been nearby, but it was nice hearing it from someone else. Not everyone believes in an afterlife or spirits or any of this, but if you do, I think this brings some peace of mind about loved ones. I know it did for me.

As we move forward, I hope my house is just safe for Mila. If this gets rid of her nightmares, I’ll be so happy. I’m also looking forward to see how it’ll affect me and maybe my anxiety and depression too. As always, I’ll keep you updated with anything that happens onwards.

If you have any questions, please feel free to ask! If you’ve ever done anything like this, I’d love for you to share your experience in the comments or in an email. I’m curious to see if anyone else had a similar situation.

Toddler Friendly Summer Bucket List – Bubbles

This world is but a canvas to our imagination.

Henry David Thoreau

In the thick of motherhood, I can get caught up with trying to carry the world on my shoulders. Between being a mom, writing papers for school, working, and trying to keep up with housework, I sometimes forget how the world must seem to Mila. She’s helped bring the color back in my life and smile at the little things, but I wish I could slow down.

We’ve been super busy the last few days. Mila’s routine is all out of whack and our sleep schedule is way off. Yesterday we were able to slow down a little bit. After a typical morning and midday walk, she took a long two hour nap. During that time, I was looking at pictures from last year and realized how fast everything’s going. She’s gotten so big in the last month and is saying so many words. Mila is all the things I dreamed about, but I want time to slow down… just a little bit.

After waking up, she pointed to the door and wanted to go outside. She played with the neighbor kids until it started storming. We had dinner and instead of just rushing our nighttime routine, I just wanted more of her.

I showed her bubbles last week, but didn’t have the chance to really play with them. They’ve been on my counter and she points to them while I make breakfast in the mornings. When I showed them to her last night and told her we were going outside, she was so excited.

When making this bucket list, I didn’t really realize how each item would make me feel. They’re all different experiences that she’s briefly or never encountered. Although we’re only on the second one, I love being able to introduce her to the world around us.

I loved watching her try to blow bubbles out of the wand. Spoiler alert: she got more in her mouth and all over her body than actually making bubbles. Then with every bubble I blew, she loved chasing them. I wonder what her thoughts were with them. It really brought me back to being a kid again with all the wonder and imagination that’s little ones have.

One day she’ll think blowing bubbles and hanging out with me is lame. She won’t be as surprised or intrigued in these little wonders. They grow up so fast and the world doesn’t let them stay young for long.

I hope that day doesn’t come for years and years, but for now, I’m going to try and slow down with her. I want to be amazed by the bubbles in the world and slow down time for us both. When that day eventually comes, I hope she remembers these type of memories we created because I know I’ll never forget them.

Two out of many experiences are checked off our bucket list. If you created a summer bucket list, which items have you checked off?

He Wasn’t a Bad Deal in Life.

When I was a little girl, I would never have guessed I’d be here.

I wanted to travel the world and had/have a huge list of places I want to explore. As I got older I realized that, you know, took money and you had to have a job to make that money. Before I knew I wanted to travel, I wanted to be a teacher; really even before I knew what that entailed. I loved knowledge and letting others know new information. In high school I wanted to teach during the year and travel during the summer. Then in college, it changed to being a travel writer. I didn’t want any strings attached to anyone and just be free. Being married and having kids was never on the top of my list. I didn’t want to be that person who never left where they grew up. Nope. That wouldn’t be me…

Obviously that’s not what happened.

Instead of moving away and being this single, empowered woman with no worries, I bought a house in my hometown and got pregnant with Jensen. With him, my view of the world changed. I wanted to be the best mom to him and I really did my very best. His death absolutely crushed me. I had never really been an optimist (for no reason really), but after I was a zombie walking around.

I became this person I didn’t recognize in the mirror. The world didn’t seem as big and bright as it did before. Everything I had ever known I distrusted. I had changed, the world had changed, and life had changed.

And honestly, who wouldn’t think that? You don’t go into a pregnancy thinking this baby that I love with every part of me is going to die and you certainly don’t walk out of an experience like that thinking everything is just good still. Excuse my language, but your child dying fucking sucks. I honestly wouldn’t wish it on any person in the entire universe. Not even the worst person. No one is deserving of that.

Losing Jensen is my first ever loss. That grief shakes me to my core and anyone who has been through losing a child only knows that pain. I can also tell you that me and any of those other moms and dads would never have taken away that time with their child. And for me, I don’t think I’d ever want to go back to the way it was before.

I wasn’t ‘dealt shitty hands in life’ by Jensen’s death, a miscarriage, or anything dealing with Mila’s ‘dad’ or that whole mess.

Do I wish I could have Jensen here with me? Absolutely. I wish with every fiber of my body that I could go into his room and just look at him sleeping. I wish I could watch him play with Mila. I wish I could be sending him to preschool this fall. I wish for all the things I’ll never have with him. If I could change anything in my life, it’d be having him right here with Mila and I.

There’s no child that’s a shitty deal. Yeah, Jensen’s death was awful, but he taught me how deeply a person can love. He taught me how I can get through anything by myself and honestly so much more that I’ve written a trillion times. I would relieve those thirty-eight weeks over and over again and still not think the life I created was shitty. My miscarriage, although tragic and still find myself processing it, was not a shitty deal. That baby gave me so much hope and that hope made me know I wanted to eventually have another child. Then there’s Mila. God, there’s no part of her that I regret. Like Jensen, she taught me how to love again and showed me how strong of a person I was. Again, like Jensen, she’s pushed from highs to lows and I will never be able to thank her for what she’s done for me. I have this vibrant little girl all to myself and if anyone thinks that’s shitty..

Maybe I’ve grown through a lot of pain in the last three-ish years, but to say I’ve been ‘dealt shitty hands in life’ is probably the most untrue statement I’ve heard about my life.

I don’t have the life I planned I would have when I was a little girl, but I think my life is better than that (don’t get me wrong, I can’t wait to travel the world with Mila and write Jensen’s name wherever we go). I love where I am right now. Three years ago, other bereaved moms told me I’d never forget Jensen and I’d always grieve for him, but I would get to a place where I could smile, be happy, and not feel guilty (there’s guilty days plagued with grief still though). I remember thinking that they were nuts, but here I am. It’s not entirely Mila induced, it’s all the lessons I’ve learned and knowing the fragility of life. There’s not darkness when I think of Jensen, there’s light and love and knowing he’s rooted so deep in my heart. And yeah, there’s Mila who has this radiant smile and is so full of life. I would do everything all over again to have them both, even with the knowledge I have now.

Because I haven’t been dealt shitty hands in life. I’ve been given support (by amazing family, friends, and the loss community), independence, confidence, security, intelligence, experience, and love that I wouldn’t let anyone take away from me.

To you who thinks this of me… I’m not sorry about the hand you’ve been dealt.