About danielleridgway

Momma to an angel and a rainbow. Journeying through grief, parenting after loss, and living life one day at a time. Want to hear more from me? Follow me on Instagram: @greyskies.rainbowhighs If you have any other questions or anything else, just let me know. Thanks for reading!

Pinky Got Out! Children’s Book Review

Happy National Pink Day!

Did you ever know there was such a thing? Me neither! Yet, if you peered into our house, you’d think we’d know all things pink.

To celebrate all things pink, Mila and I read and interacted with our latest Little Bookish Wardrobe box. Inside was the book Pinky Got Out! by Michael Portis and illustrated by Lori Richmond.

You may be wondering, what’s in the box? (Not meant to be read in Brad Pitt’s voice from Seven.)

In the box was the book, that beautiful PINK outfit, and a little craft. Mila wasn’t that into the craft this month. It was a mask and I think she doesn’t like the feeling on her face. Maybe when she gets older we’ll revisit.

But, she LOVED the glorious pink skirt, hair piece, and leotard.

I have to admit… it does look pretty cute.

Back to the good stuff though.

Little Bookish Wardrobe always picks out engaging books. This book was just so much fun for Mila to interact with.

It’s set in a zoo with a flamingo named Pinky that likes to get in a little trouble. A group of students are on a field trip and quickly take notice in the flamingo’s antics.

Throughout the book, the class see and learns about different animals, which is very educational to the reader too.

I didn’t know some of the facts in there!

The best part, even though it’s educational and you’re learning about animals, it’s fun for children to find Pinky. He escapes to every animal enclosure and always looks like he’s having fun.

Mila’s favorite part of this story is finding Pinky and laughing at his silly whereabouts.

The illustrations in this children’s book are amazing. I love the way Pinky looks. Even though the pictures are simple, they’re very impactful and help make this book fun for adults and children.

It’s a great way for kids to stay focused, recall what they’re looking for, and laugh along the way. I also like how there’s so many opportunities for learning extensions.

You can also quiz your child about the different animal names, what sounds they make, or the information from the story.

This would be a perfect book to read before the zoo or really anytime at all!

We hope that you have an amazing National Pink Day and check out Little Bookish Wardrobe. It’s a great way to get new books and additions for your child to fall in love with stories.

Do you do anything special for holidays like National Pink Day? If not, what’s your favorite pink thing?

Or you can check out this amazing pink Strawberry Fluff by Mom Buns and Mayhem. It looks so yummy and only has two ingredients. Plus, you all know my strawberry obsession lately!

Strawberry Yogurt Popsicles

Looking for a cool treat this summer? Try this three ingredient Strawberry Yogurt Popsicle recipe. I promise you won’t want to share with anyone!

Before I go on… I know I’m hitting the strawberry game hard this summer. They’re just tasty.

This recipe is actually my favorite snack not frozen. It’s simple to mix up and has so many good flavors.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • I cup Vanilla Greek Yogurt
  • 1 cup Strawberries
  • 1/4 cup Brown Sugar
  • Popsicle Mold

All you have to do is combine the three ingredients in a bowl. Then, mix them up.

Next, transfer to a popsicle mold. I got this cute one here. This part can get a little messy. Just make sure if you get it on the mold to wipe it off.

Last, pop them in the freezer and wait!

I left mine in the freezer for about six hours, but overnight would have taken the ‘hurry up’ feeling away.

This is quite the tasty treat. I love how refreshing it is. It also feels like an adult popsicle. I’m all for sharing with Mila, but there’s real ingredients and I can actually see the strawberries!

Hopefully, I’ll expand to using other ingredients this summer. If not, they’re still really good.

What’s your favorite popsicle flavor?

If you need some other popsicle recipes, check out these!

What Makes a Super Papa?

A few days ago, I shared an old letter to my Super Dad. I read a few parts of it to Mila and saw her smiling at the picture.

“He’s a Super Papa, don’t you think?”

“Yeah. He my Super Papa… but why?”

We’re head deep in the “why” stage here, so I wasn’t too surprised at this question. Instead of answering her, I turned that question back to her for the next few days. During that time, I’ve wrote down all the reasons Mila thinks her Papa is her Super Papa.

Swims in the pool with me.

Let’s me surf.

Walks.

Gives me ‘nacks.

Catching the moon.

Gets rocks.

Plays with me.

Go fishing.

Tells stories.

Makes me smile.

I give him a heart.

Everything that makes him super in her eyes is being present and there for her. After she would tell me her reason, she would tell me she loves her Papa and wants to go to their house.

As she wrote in his Father’s Day card, she sung, “I love my Papa Ridgway. My Papa Ridgway loves me. He makes me happy. This is me and this is him.

I don’t know the true definition of a Super Papa, but I think Mila has it right.

Those important to you aren’t important just for one reason. It’s the millions of little things that let you know they care about you. The moments that she identifies him as super might seem like simple pieces to some, but are everything to her.

It’s the difference of making a regular man a Super Papa.

Happy Father’s Day to all the father figures positively impacting the kids in their lives. You help make the world go round. Good father figures need recognized and celebrated, especially today!

Thank you to any father figure who is putting the work in. It takes a village to raise a gold generation.

We Went Strawberry Picking. Here’s Our Experience.

Strawberries are the fruit of choice in our house. When I let Mila know she could actually go strawberry picking, we had to leave immediately.

Of course she had to dress for the occasion and picked out this fitting outfit.

Since strawberry season is coming to a close in Ohio, we had to find a place that was still doing you-picks. I ended up finding Smokey Lane Farms in Sugarcreek, Ohio.

It was actually their last you-pick day!

Smokey Lane Farms was a smaller farm that had two areas to pick strawberries. It also had places for kids to play and farm animals.

When we first got there, we started picking in the first field. It was pretty sparse since it was the last day, but Mila seemed to find a lot.

I’m pretty sure she ate more than what ended up in her bucket.

Who can blame her right?

One thing I wish I would have done before we started picking was to tell her what to look for. She picked small berries, mushy berries, or any that her eyes could see.

If I could go back, I would have told her to get big, light red berries that were mushy.

Live and learn!

After we found a bunch of strawberries in the first field, we took a play break.

She went down the slides, jumped on the air trampoline, and attempted to climb the ropes. Good thing mom was there to help out a little. I think her goal right now is to solo swing across the monkey bars.

We also ended up strolling through their green houses and checking out the farm animals.

After playing with some new friends on the playground, Mila was ready to tackle the second strawberry field. Thankfully, there were bigger strawberries so I could show her what we were looking for.

Let’s just say… she ate a ton of those too.

In all, I think we were at Smokey Lane Farms for like three hours or more. We loved finding the strawberries and just being outside.

It was the perfect day to go: not too hot or cold.

One thing I’d suggest to parents is to bring water. Mila drank a lot and it was nice to have some on hand.

We obviously didn’t need any snacks!

Not only was it nice to get outside with Mila, we love exploring new places.

It’s been years since I’ve been strawberry picking and it was Mila’s first time. Maybe it can turn into a fun first of summer tradition with our family.

I love having the opportunity to start and keep these types of family outings. Mila loves exploring and I know I do too.

Maybe we’ll have to try their blueberry you-pick!

Since we have a huge bucket of strawberries, it’s time to make our strawberry recipes and enjoy them.

I think we’ll be doing strawberry chocolate chip cookies first!

Have you ever been strawberry picking? What’s your tip to finding the perfect strawberry?

Also, if you’re from Ohio, what other local adventures should we try?

15 Things To Do With Your Toddler This Summer

Summer is OFFICIALLY here!

Mila and I love the warm months and everything to do with our time off. It may be hard to think of fun things to do with your toddler in the heat, but getting outside is so important.

We’re going to track our time outside until next summer. Our goal is to hit 1000 hours and I have a feeling the majority of the time will be when the sun is shining bright. 1000 Hours Outside is a movement to get outside and lessen screen time. They have a fun coloring page to track your hours and I think it’s a fun little challenge.

I also think about how Mila and I only have EIGHTEEN summers together until she goes off to college or enters adulthood. We’re going to try to make the most of them.

This is summer 4/18.

Here’s a little list of what Mila and I will be doing this summer. I can’t wait to see all of our adventures.

Create a Scavenger Hunt

You know how much Mila and I love scavengers hunts. They’re easy to make and can be done anywhere outside. We love to do them in our backyard, but have also done them on hikes, walks, and on vacation too!

Scavenger hunts are great ways to keep your little busy and you can join along too!

Go to the Zoo

Zoos are such fun places to explore. There’s all kinds of different animals and kids are just in awe of them. It may get a little hot during the summer, so make sure to pack extra water.

I’d also suggest trying to go early in the morning or during zoo nights!

If you’re in Ohio, check out the Columbus and Akron Zoo!

Go to the Pool

Mila and I’s FAVORITE summer activity is going to the pool. We love to swim and just relax in the water. She’s also started asking to go to the waterpark. She loves the slides!

For us, swimming passes the time so quickly and cools us down. It’s also fun to play pool volleyball, make floaty forts, and play Marco Polo! Pool days have unlimited opportunities to play and learn.

Watch the Clouds

One way to engage your child’s imagination is to watch the clouds. Ask them what they see in the sky. Mila tries to make up stories along with them too. Let’s just say, she always has me laughing with what goes on in her mind.

Stargaze

Summer means staying up a little later than normal. Just like watching the clouds, stargazing with Mila opens up different conversations than normal. She asks about the moon and how to get to space. We also try to find different constellations, but I’m not very good at finding them right away. I promise I’ll be better at the end of summer!

Play with the Hose

Some days you can’t get to the pool, but still want to play in the water. We love playing with out hose and the attachments with it.

It’s a fun and simple activity that I think most toddlers love.

Just like going to the zoo, going on a walk or hike can be hindered by the heat. Make sure to stay hydrated or go when it’s cooler.

If you go on a hike, it could be fun to go somewhere where there’s water to be cooler too!

Tend Your Garden

If you started a garden, you’ll probably have to tend to it.

Tending your garden can be so much fun for you and your toddlers to watch flowers, fruits, and vegetables grow. It’s even better when you can pick and eat what you’ve helped grow!

Have a Fire

Extend your time outside by having a fire.

You can make food, like s’mores, and just enjoy the moment. We also like telling stories. Anytime there’s light that makes shadows, Mila thinks it’s story time! It’s also a fun way to wrap up a pool day or time spent with family.

Blow Bubbles

This is pretty self explanatory, but deserved a spot on the list!

Play with Chalk

Playing with chalk is not only creative for kids, it can be a great learning activity. You can do color recognition, practice shapes, and even help learn letters too!

Also, it always brings a smile to my face when I see sidewalk chalk art when we go on a walk.

Go Somewhere New

There are so many places to explore. Recently, I’ve joined an Ohio Facebook group to see if there are any quirky or fun new places for Mila and I to go. Honestly, i already have a huge list of things to do this summer and beyond.

If you’re in Ohio, I’d totally recommend going to the Fountain of Dogs in Mt. Vernon. It’s still one of the places Mila asks to go frequently.

Go on a Road Trip

Just like going somewhere new, going on a road trip is another fun option. Mila is finally loving the car. It’s a blast to sing songs together and watch her see the world around her.

The opportunities are endless when it comes to road trips!

Volunteer or Donate

No matter if you volunteer or donate your time officially or just on your own, it’s important to show your child how important it is. On our walks, we’ll pick up trash. When we have extra money, we’ve taken dog food to the humane society.

It’s a way you can get outside and help your community too.

HAVE FUN!

This is the most important thing on the list!

No matter what you do this summer, just make sure to have fun. Kids are only little one times in their lives… and I think it’s magical to watch your children experience this time too. I know I’ll be having just as much fun as her this summer.

What is your favorite thing to do on this list? And what’s something you’re planning that you’d add?

Boozy Root Beer Floats

Summer season is upon us! I can’t think of anything more nostalgic than root beer floats to drink on a hot day. The kids love it. To step it up a notch for the adults, I add one more ingredient to make Boozy Root Beer Floats.

One of my favorite things about being an adult is putting a twist on my favorite childhood drinks. It seems silly, but it’s a lot of fun to taste. I imagine this is what all the adults did when I was a kid too.

Plus, when it’s only one extra step, it makes it a lot easier to do.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Root Beer
  • Vanilla Ice Cream
  • Whiskey (I used Jack Daniels)
  • Chocolate sauce *optional
  • Maraschino Cherry *optional

All you have to do is make it like a classic root beer float. I add the whiskey in first, then ice cream, and then the root beer. It feels like it mixes up the whiskey the best!

I also like to add chocolate drizzle and maraschino cherries to the top of my root beer floats too. It tastes so good.

This Boozy Root Beer Float drink will be such a summer staple. Mila loves drinking root beer floats too. So, I guess she’ll be motivating me to make them all the time!

What kind of childhood drinks do you like to put an adult spin on?

If you’re craving some other root beer flavor try this one Root Beer Float Ice Pop by Mom Buns and Mayhem.

A Letter to my Super Dad.

*This letter was originally written in 2013. I’ve been reflecting on fatherhood so much this week, that I remembered this letter and wanted to share it again. So my dad could be reminded of how much he meant to me then and still today.

It’s hard for me to think a ton of negative thoughts about fatherhood, because I have one of the best.*

Dear Dad;

When I close my eyes, I can easily imagine a few people. Most notably is my family. When I picture my mom, I see her smile and hear her laugh. It gives me a warm feelings. Logan’s picture in my head is him a football uniform. I sense a strong, but welcoming feeling. My dad is more complex. I picture a him smiling too, but much taller than he actually is. He is almost always busy with something, like in his work clothes or making me breakfast. It’s a very comforting and protective feeling. He is my Super Dad and not anything less.

Almost twenty-one years ago you and Mom began something magical. The two of you were in love and soon after your family grew. Even though I obviously do not remember being brought home or anything about my beginning years, I can only imagine how much your lives changed; it mostly brings a smile to my face. A little over a year afterwards, my baby brother was brought home and even though it was the end of our family, it was the start to my beautiful life.

This weekend, you went through a tragedy I would never wish on anyone. I hope I never have to lose Logan; he, just like you and Mom, mean the whole entire world to me. From Friday night to tonight, I have witnessed every single emotion I know develop and be acted upon through you. No one should ever have that much go through them at once. I am very sorry you lost your brother and I am even more sorry and sad about the pain you are going through.

I know I’m not the best daughter.

When I was much younger, I gave unlimited hugs and love. In my eyes you were my everything, along with Mom. Every spring when we got our bikes out, you retaught me how to ride again. You taught me so much, much more than you realize. Through your actions and words I picked up on good and bad, right and wrong, and I mimic your emotions.

As I grew up, I pulled away from hugs and wanted to distance myself so I could grow up. Just like you, I became stubborn and set in my ways. We always have to be right and there’s nothing wrong with that. Even though I did things you disagreed with, you would always stick up for me. I think that meant/means the most to me. You could’ve just said I was making dumb decisions to others, but you always stood up for me. Even if it was when someone made me cry or someone that doubted my decisions, you had my back. I’m sorry I tried to differentiate myself and rebel against you guys. It wasn’t anything you guys ever did, it was just me finding myself. When I graduated and went to college, I know it made you upset when I would text Mom first, but I did not do it purposely. I went to Italy and tried my best to talk to all of you. But when I moved back home, I feel as if it bought us all back closer than ever before. On the mornings where we eat breakfast and talk start my day off wonderfully.

Through all of this time, you worked to make Logan and my life better and comfortable. There are days where you will work well into the night, just to make sure we get what we want. You devote your time not only to your family, but it makes me so happy to see you spend time doing things you love. On Friday nights, you are so happy to be on the field. The people I graduated with to the football players now all respect you and appreciate you to no end. You have impacted their lives even in a small way. Sometimes I think you believe we take you for granted, but I assure you that is not true.

You are the most important man in my life and will always be; even though you think that won’t be true sometime in the future. The way you raised me has and always will impact and effect me and the things I do. When people tell me I’m a good student, worker or person, it is a direct reflection on your parenting. You’re more than just a parent too. I can talk to you, joke around or I don’t have to say anything if I can’t. You are hard working, caring and even though we can argue, you can make me laugh or smile anytime. My relationship with you is unlike any other relationship I have. I can’t imagine not having you in my life.

For selfish reasons, this weekend’s events have made me think about what would happen if I lost you… Honestly, I don’t know what I would do. I would not only lose my father, but one of my best friends too.

I just want you to always know I love you and I thank you for everything that I accomplish; without you I would be nothing. I promise to hug you more and call you first more. (Not just when my car breaks down on the side of the road.) I hope I never see you as sad and upset as you were this weekend. It really hurts me to see you like that, although I know those emotions are normal. Like I’ve said many times these past few days: I am so sorry.

I love you Dad and I promise I will always be your little girl.

Toddler Activity: Balloon Pop Artwork

Toddlers love throwing things, balloons, and making a mess. I’ve found a way to incorporate all three with this Balloon Pop Artwork.

For Mila’s third party birthday in April, (I still haven’t wrote about it. I’ll get to it as soon as I can!) we did a Young, Wild, and THREE theme. That meant animals prints, fun games, and friends. The day was truly a celebration.

Anyways, one our favorite parts was all the littles creating a huge piece of art. It was a carnival style game that the adults had a lot of fun watching.

This set up was inspired by the balloon throw game at fairs and carnivals.

And yes… we used darts.

Here are the supplies we used to create the balloon pop artwork:

  • A huge canvas
  • Paint
  • Balloons
  • Darts
  • Tape
  • A crazy group of kids

I want to start off saying that this project was a little more difficult than I thought. Honestly, I didn’t think through the getting the paint in the balloon or how to get them to stick effectively.

Yet… here are my tips to help! Plus a funny story or two.

The first thing you need to do is get the paint inside the balloons. Like I just said, this is not easy at all. If you have a trick of how to do this, please let all of us know. Hopefully that tip will help someone else out.

Anyways, after trial and error, I found the best way to put paint in a balloon are these steps.

First, blow up the balloon and let the air out. Second, stretch out the hole and squeeze paint in the balloon. Then, blow it up.

It sounds way simpler and easier than it actuality.

At first, I tried filling the balloon with a straw. It helped for a little bit, but pulling it out put paint everywhere. Which isn’t good when you still have to blow the balloon up.

BEWARE…

With one balloon, I had it half blown up then accidentally let go of the opening… that meant, all the air and paint in the balloon sprayed back on me.

It covered my face and shirt. Some got on my teeth and in my mouth. It just was not a great time.

So, there will be some trial and error.

After you’re done blowing up balloons, you have to tape them to the canvas.

I’d suggest not taping the balloons on or getting the activity outside until you’re ready to do it. The balloons will pop in the heat and tape doesn’t hold really well on canvas.

Yes… some balloons did pop prematurely in my house. It was a mess the entire time. But made me laugh too. What’s life without laughter?

Once it’s time to throw down, just set it up where you don’t mind paint getting every where.

We lined the kids up and told them what to do.

They all took turns really well and had a lot of fun with it. The littler kids had a harder time, but as soon as they realized they could throw hard, it got a lot more fun.

If you have kids close to the canvas, they will get paint on them!

Anyways, it took them a while to actually pop all the balloons. They started inching up after a few rounds.

Even though it was messy, I’m obsessed with out the Balloon Pop Artwork turned out. It’s actually the first piece of art someone sees when they walk into my house right now.

I love that every time we look at it, we remember how much fun Mila’s third birthday was!

Let me know in the comments if you’ve ever done an activity like this? Or let me know what your favorite carnival game is.

Before you go, check out how these moms incorporate the carnival in their play…

Toddler Activity: Flag Hunt

Happy Flag Day!

To celebrate the occasion, we went on a Flag Hunt and talked about the importance of flags. Mila was surprised with how many flags were in our little community!

To start off, we did not intend to go on a mini flag hunt. There were just so many at the beginning of the walk! At the beginning, she was very enthusiastic to find flags and ran over to touch them.

Our town always has a lot of American flags up, just more throughout the summer with Memorial Day, Fourth of July, and Labor Day.

Most cities or towns will have flags at these places:

  • Schools
  • Post Offices
  • Police Stations
  • Town/City Hall
  • Monuments
  • Any Government Building

We also found them on our towns telephone poles, fences, and yards. Although we didn’t go on anyone porch, Mila was pointing them out on there too.

I didn’t expect her to find as many as she did.

Some roads had a lot of telephone poles, so she was constantly saying, ‘there’s one, there’s one, there’s one too!.”

At one point she did ask why there were so many flags and what it meant.

Right now, she associates hearts with love. She’s starting to understand there’s some association with objects and feelings. Probably not as complex as our flag, but you have to start somewhere.

I told her that the flag represented where we live and that’s the United States. That’s a big concept for her since she’s just started to learn our town and state.

When I saw her look of confusion, I asked her what a heart meant. She, of course, knew. Then I told her the flag meant pride, community, and togetherness for some people. That seemed to make a little more sense.

She enjoyed talking about the colors of the flag and the stars more.

I also want to mention, beware if you’re flag hunting on a hot day. When we went, it was very humid and a tiny bit miserable.

Mila and Max were dragging their feet. At one point, Mila defeatedly dropped her head walking home. She most definitely let me know how hot it was most of the time though.

Leave it to a toddler.

So, if you go on a flag hunt, make sure you bring lots of water or go on a cooler day!

If not, you might get these types of looks of disappointment.

Either way, we had an educational walk that was engaging and got us outside for about an hour. Next time, we’ll bring more water and maybe a cold rag.

As always, let me know if you do this activity with your child and how they like it.

How do you talk to your toddler about our flag, the USA, or community? Is there any activities you’d like to share?

DIY Outdoor Art Display

Mila and I spend a lot of time outside. We tend to our plants, play with our cats, and eat out there too. Since our outdoor areas are so important, we decided to do a DIY Outdoor Art Display to make it even more homey.

Mila makes a lot of artwork. Most of it gets showcased on here. She is so proud to show it off and it makes me smile every time I see it.

Why wouldn’t we take it outside?

Plus, outdoor living doesn’t have to be boring. You can add colors and pops of personality. Just make sure it’s covered from the elements and you’re good. There’s also a ton of weatherproofed items you can purchase.

Here’s what we used for this outdoor art display:

  • Two pallet boards
  • Screwdriver
  • Screws
  • Hammer
  • Nails

The biggest project was the shelf. All we did was screw the boards together. We could have painted it, but I like the natural look. Then, we screwed the shelf in the siding and put nails where the canvas went.

After that hard part was done, it’s decorating time.

I loved how all the elements came together. Mila’s artwork was the star of the show, but there’s other elements that we love Thats inside our house.

The plants we chose love humidity and are covered from the sun harsh rays. It’s also a great way to propagate them and add glass pieces. The rest of our porch is covered in plants too!

Of course, we had to add Jensen’s block. It’s our way of having him close to us no matter where we are around the house.

I also loved the picture of Mila and the eagle rock too. All things that make our space ours.

With a few nails, screws, and pieces of pallet wood we created our perfect art display. It truly was a simple process that had a big impact.

Since I have wood siding, I think it made this project a little easier. If you have vinyl siding, all you would need is different screws. It isn’t too much different!

At the end of the day, I’m so happy for this little DIY. It’s helped me center on self care and taking a moment in the morning and evenings.

I can’t wait to see what Mila creates for it next.

What outdoor DIYs have you done lately?