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: @danii_ridgway If you have any other questions or anything else, just let me know. Thanks for reading!

A Pandemic Pause: Meatless Mondays

COVID-19 has me stressed out. When I wake up, I’m looking to see if there are any updated, then I feel like I’m waiting for two o’clock to see what Governor DeWine has to say, and afterwards I’m reading articles about it all. While taking a minute to myself today, I realized I HAVE to get away from continuously checking up on what’s going on and focus my attention on other productive things.

As any millennial would do, I’m going to share what’s going on by writing what Mila and I are doing to get through this pandemic. So, thanks for reading along, as always…

In January, I started really researching ways to become eco friendly. I’ve wanted to write about some changes I’ve made since the beginning of the year and now may be the time where I finally get to it. Anyways, one change I kept reading about was having a ‘meatless’ day once a week. Many people do “Meatless Mondays” and that’s what I’ve tried to do too.There’s a lot of information about why going meatless one day a week helps the environment. I could probably list and talk about each of them, but here’s a website that’ll do it for me.

I am not vegan or a vegetarian, so this was a new venture for me. When I decided to go for it, I went to Pinterest for recipes and different ideas.

One really jumped out at me because it looked so good AND I knew Mila would try it all together, but definitely eat the ingredients separately. I had everything in my house, besides goat cheese (which isn’t meatless, I know), but I knew where to get it. The recipe is a smashed chickpea and goat cheese wrap found at Parsnips and Pastries.

A few things I tweaked with the recipe was:

  • I didn’t use roasted peppers, just fresh.
  • No mircogreens or sprouts. Spinach!
  • No basil.
  • I used different spices as well that I use with almost everything.

Mila ate so many olives, plain chickpeas, and the goat cheese. I just let her eat whatever she wanted and didn’t push the wrap on her. She did like the filling, but preferred to pick and eat like usual. I REALLY loved this recipe and how it turned out. It’s made me excited to try more vegetarian and vegan meals.

I actually made this last week, but am going to try a different recipe tonight. I’m out of avocados right now and am like not wanting to go back to the store, so I’m going to be creative in what I make for tonight. Maybe this with some tweaks.

A little mom/parent tip for those with upcoming toddlers… just know however healthy and tasty of a meal you make, your toddler will probably prefer to something like this instead.

If you have ANY suggestions or meatless recipes you’d like to share with me, I’d love to try them out. Eventually, I’d like to do Meatless Mondays with one meal completely vegan. I’m trying to take stepping stones in doing a vegan day. The three things that are getting me are eggs, cheese, and milk. MIla and I consume all of them everyday. We’ll try to do better, but give us time.

While writing this, I can definitely see why bloggers have a hard time just sharing their recipes. Food invokes wanting to share more. I think during this time of crisis that our world is going through, it’s nice to connect with each other and see how we’re all getting through.

I have some other things I’d like to share with you guys this week! Especially a craft/cause Mila and I are going to do this week. Another thing I’d like to know or get tips on is not being afraid to go to the grocery store to get the essentials. I really just need some fresh fruit and veggies, so maybe I’ll start searching with what I can do with my canned items.

To conclude this ever long pandemic pause, I hope you all are feeling well and are making space for yourself through all of it.

One Weekend In Louisville: Toddler Included

Let us cut to two weekends ago…

The coronavirus was not rapidly spreading throughout the US and the world felt a little more normal. (By the way, Mila and I are doing okay here! We’re just staying at home and to ourselves.) Since I was on spring break from school, I thought it would be a nice weekend to getaway. After a little research, I settled on Louisville, Kentucky!

Not your average and usual spring break spot and maybe not the first place you’d think about taking your toddler, you know…the birthplace of bourbon. BUT it’s less than a five hour drive for me, there’s a TON of museums with a wide variety that anyone could enjoy, and GIANTS.

After booking the hotel room, packing up the car, and getting all the snacks for Mila and I, we headed out midday Friday.

Let me tell you, I was nervous for the drive to Louisville. Mila still really dislikes being in the car to the point where the only way she doesn’t cry is if it’s twenty minutes in the car OR I can use an iPad to distract her. Honestly, we only had to stop once on the way there. Disney+ and Pets 2 on Netflix (better known to Mila as ‘Dog, Cat, Baby’) really saved me with nap time.

Mila fell asleep looking at her Gigi and Papa.

We didn’t end up to the hotel (which was downtown, so easy to get to, and the staff was friendly) until like seven. If you don’t know anything about Louisville, just know almost everything closes at five. So, Mila and I ordered Chinese in and went swimming in the pool. Honestly, I think we could’ve went to any hotel with a pool and Mila would have been a happy camper.

The next morning, we sort of slept through breakfast… oops. The pool really tired her out. But, we woke up, got ready, and started our little adventure.

Kentucky Derby Museum

We started out at Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby. This wasn’t originally planned until I got to the hotel. I’m not a huge fan or horses (I literally call them land sharks), but Mila is really into animals. After looking at their website, I found that their museum was super interactive and we could see one of their horses too.

I let Mila wear her fancy dress and she had an absolute blast. There was so much there to learn for me, but even more to play with for her. She was obsessed with this game where you sat on a fake horse and did a virtual race. There were three horses that could race against each other and somehow all she had to do was sit there and she only didn’t come in first place once? It was really weird and funny. Maybe her yelling, ‘GO, GO, HORSE, GO!’ helped. We spent a good while there and I had to promise her there were more horses for her to see.

Honestly, Mila loved looking at the hats and outfits they had displayed, wanted to sit on every fake horse we saw, danced through their 360 movie, and was shocked when she saw their horse and pony. I am SO glad I decided to take her to this specific museum. She really loved stand I got to learn a few things too. We were there for about two hours, maybe a little more. It was definitely worth the price of the tickets for as much as we did, and we didn’t even do the included walking tour.

You can check out the website, here.

Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest

One of the big draws to go to Louisville was the giants at Bernheim. I don’t really remember how I found out about them, but they’re made from recycled materials and they’re really neat. The forest has a lot of walking paths, playgrounds, and information throughout. Mila loves being outside, so anytime I can incorporate that, I’m all for.

We actually went straight to the forest after being at Churchill Downs. Mila napped on the way down there and as I got changed to hike through a forest. I woke her up, got her changed, and we were so hungry. They have a little café called Isaac’s Café in the visitor center. A really cool fact is they grow their vegetables, herbs, and edible flowers a stones throw away. Everything tasted really fresh and Mila ate all of the sandwich.

Everyone who was in the forest and the people who worked in the visitor center were kind and helpful. Interacting with everyone there really made our time at Bernheim special. I would 100% recommend anyone who is visiting the Louisville area to check out the forest. As an adult, I know most people that way are going to the Bourbon Trail, but this is a good way to escape that. The giants were amazing to see in person and I loved the stories that went with them.

I know the giants won’t be around forever, so I’m glad we got to see them. If I had another day in Louisville, I would have spent the whole day there. Maybe another time!

To learn more information about Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest, click here.

After a few hours, we went back to the hotel, and again, we were beat. We ended up napping and my mom and dad surprised us by meeting us in the city. When they got there, we, again, ordered in so we could spend some time in the pool.

The pool was probably the most fun of everything. Mila was singing and stomping her foot to make noises. She jumped in the pool… all by herself, after throwing the ball across the pool. It was scary, but she wanted to keep doing it. Summer should be a joy to try to keep her out of the pool.

I think everyone fell asleep pretty quick after the day Mila and I had AND after my mom and dad drove all day. We did wake up for breakfast the next morning, so score one for us.

Another big thing I wanted to take Mila to was the Louisville Zoo. We drove out there and were about to talk in when we realized a lot of people were leaving after the zoo was only open for forty minutes. A lot of the animals aren’t out because of the time of the year. Mila also fell asleep in the car on the way there. We made the executive decision not to even go to the zoo and change our plans…

Muhammad Ali Center

I had heard so many good things about the Ali Center and I knew there we interactive parts for Mila. Honestly, there was so much infomraiton. I learned a lot about Ali, historical racial issues in the US, and about boxing. All the exhibits let you be interactive and if Mila wasn’t so tired or if she was a little older, I think I could’ve spent a lot more time there. But with a tired, almost two year old, you do what you can.

We played a lot with their boxing area. There was a boxing ring, shadow boxing, and speed bag. I low key feel bad for how much time we spent there, but Mila was all for it. It was fun to like have little competitions between the three adults too.

By the time we got done playing, Mila seriously needed food and a nap. Again, I wish I had more time to go through, but again, I can always go back when Mila is older and she can appreciate the education too.

Learn more about the center here.

Troll Pub Under the Bridge

At this point in the trip, Mila and I had only been to one sit down restaurant and I hadn’t had any bourbon. I don’t drink frequently, but I really wanted bourbon since I was in Louisville. Anyways, after looking on Pinterest for child-friendly restaurants and something that was unique, I found the Troll Pub Under the Bridge.

Honestly, I LOVED this little pub. It’s aesthetic was perfect and the theme was spot on. The food was delicious. I got the burger with beer cheese and it was delicious. My dad got the chicken and waffle sandwich, that made me jealous I didn’t get it. The berry, bourbon drink I got was fantastic. Seriously, just an overall positive experience for me. Mila liked her food, but was a tiny bit afraid of the troll that she called ‘beast.’

If you’re Louisville definitely check Troll Pub Under the Bridge. Their website is here.

After going back and forth of whether we should leave or not, we walked around downtown for a little bit. Louisville is such a walkable city. We did notice all the home plates and bats commemorating different baseball players and the bats they used. I went back and forth of whether I should take Mila to the Louisville Slugger museum. Well, we thought what the heck and decided to go!

Louisville Slugger Museum

So I fibbed a little bit. We technically went to the museum and saw the biggest bat and glove there is in the world, but we didn’t go through the museum. I had a bat custom made for Mila. Of course it’s pink and mini and perfect for her to chase me around the house with. It only took around twenty minutes for it to be done. In that twenty minutes, Mila played a game of hide and seek without letting anyone know… Panic ensued. One minute she was in front of us and the next she was gone. My mom and I just like instantly searched the store, then my dad said something to let us know she was okay. She decided it’d be fun to hide in the clothes rack… not fun, but she was safe so I didn’t care.

Again, we didn’t go and see how the bats were actually made and this history of it. We did go to the batting cages and Mila played in their little area. We actually put Mila in their kids tball batting cage… she liked hitting, maybe needs to work on her aim. But it’ll all come together.

Louisville Slugger Museum (or what we saw) was a hit. Pun fully intended. I can imagine the full tour was informative and the building was beautiful.

If you’ve never been there, check out their website here.

Mila and I had such a blast exploring Louisville and were happy that my mom and dad could join along too. It was so nice to get out before the coronavirus hit. A mini vacation before our quarantine.

I can’t wait to start exploring with Mila more this summer and as she grows older no.

For now, I just keep looking back at pictures and am so thankful for everything in my life. In less than a month, Jensen will be four and Mila two. Through all the craziness, there is so much to be happy about.

11 Thoughts During Toddler Gymnastics.

This week Mila began a brand new adventure: gymnastics.

This is the first class environment Mila has been in. More importantly, it gives her the opportunity to be around other kids her age; something that I worry about her missing. When I found out a local gym had a mommy and me class, I knew she had to join.

Honestly, I didn’t thinks he’d have a problem. Mila is SO active; she’s constantly running and jumping. She’s also fearless, which definitely helps for when you have to literally jump and flip your body all the way over… although I knew that wasn’t going to happen in a toddler class. The class setting is a little scary with a toddler though. I didn’t know if she would listen or straight up tell her teacher no. She’s already started following directions (at her own discretion) and if she knows what you’re saying, she’ll do it or at least make an attempt.

I wasn’t afraid for her at all. The ‘mommy’ part of the mommy and me class made me a little nervous. When I was young, I pretty much failed out of gymnastics class. I’m terrified to go upside down, whether that be on my own, on a rollercoaster, or really anywhere else. I didn’t expect to be doing anything out of the box, but the flashbacks of being kicked out of class from when I was younger haunted me (can I put a laughing emoji in here?). Mostly, I didn’t want to hold her back by being afraid of her doing something and she sense it. Who know there were so many thoughts before the class even started?

Anyways, the big day came. Mila was EXCITED that she got to wear her ‘cute,’ pink leotard. We got to the gym and there was a lot to take in from first impressions, the actual class, and after…

1. Mila’s going to be able to do that?

As soon as we walked in, a bunch of ‘older’ girls (upper elementary aged) were running around and flipping. Mila’s eyes lit up and she wanted to go ‘play’ with them. Instantly, I knew she wasn’t going to be afraid AND I might have a little trouble keeping her containted.

2. Please be nice. Please be nice.

Again, a big reason I wanted Mila to be in this class is to be with kids around her age. Since it’s just her and I, all the attention is on her which is great, but I feel like she needs the other type of interaction.

So before class when the kids were mingling, all I could think was for her to be nice to the little boy and girls she would be with for the next few weeks. The little boy in class and her were beside each other. It’s always a toss up with what’s going to happen, but then they gave each other a big hug. Such a sigh of relief.

3. IT’S GO TIME!

4. I have to keep her on this little square… for how long?

During the first part of the class, the kids have to stretch out and there they learn different stances and things. Well, they’re supposed to stay on this little letter square and wait for their turn or instruction. Mila was antsy and wanting to run, so it was a struggle to keep her occupied in this section. BUT we did it!

5. When did Mila get this strong?

So a lot of gymnastics is upper body strength, even in the toddler class. They had to do little pushups and learn how to push themselves up on a lot of things. I was shocked of how much strength she had. It didn’t seem to phase her… I think that’s a good thing.

6. Oops, sorry. Watch out. Mila doesn’t know how to wait for anyone.

Our class was instructed to run in a circle. Instead of jogging behind the little girl in front of us, Mila just took off and dragged me behind her. We passed the mom and girl duo as Mila kept yelling, ‘go, go, go!’

7. Jump, jump, jump.

8. I have to help her do what?

The majority of class was split in stations. I, who knows nothing about gymnastics, did my best to help Mila with all of them. We started practicing somersaults, how to jump off the spring, and getting on the bar. All I could think about was how unqualified I was to be helping her do this. I just kept thinking how I didn’t want her to get hurt with the somersault. We figured everything else out as we went along. Maybe not qualified as a professional, but as a mom I made it work.

9. Nostalgia at its finest.

Near the end, I felt most confident with one part: the parachute. We all spread apart and made it go up and down. Mila had fun thinking she was directing everyone with what to do. We then had to run under it to go to the other side… Mila didn’t make it through the first time, but got the hang of it the second time. She loved this part as much as I did!

10. Phew, that was a quick half hour!

After getting a stamp on her hand for doing such a good job, it was time to pack up and leave. It went so quick. I’m not sure who got a better work out… Mila or I? We had a blast and are so excited to go again next week!

11. I’m so proud of her.

Weird Things My Toddler Does: Part Three.

Welcome back to another edition of Weird Things Mila Does! To be completely honest, I think all toddlers are a little weird. It would take me hours to list everything out of the ordinary Mila does… and who has time for that?

So, Mila loves dogs. She loves playing with Max and my parents’ dogs. We watch Pets, Benji, and Bolt constantly (with Beauty and the Beast and Coco too). If there’s a dog out while we walk or anywhere she can get to, she’ll dart for it. We also have an undisclosed amount of dog stuffed animals around the house too.

All of this, fairly normal. But Mila… well, she has to take it to the next level. Most days, Mila pretend she’s a dog. She’ll lay in Max’s crate and dog bed. She tries to steal his food and dog treats. When one of the cats are inside, she barks and chases them.

Honestly, it’s pretty comical. I was happy that she was using her imagination, but now she’s roped me into it.

She took off a chain from one of my purses so I can ‘walk’ her around the house…

At first I didn’t want to do it, but she insisted. Every morning she brings me her ‘leash’ to do our loop around the house. I swear if anyone looks in my windows they’d have to wonder what was going on.

I thought, as long as it makes her happy it’s okay!

The leash thing was weird, but then today, she stole Max’s collar. I’m unsure how she took it off of him, but it now is nestled around her neck and she refuses to take it off.

Notice the dog pajamas too…

I guess this is just life with Mila and all the weird things she does.

Toddlerhood Versus Motherhood.

This is us. Right now. It’s 5:30 on a random Thursday night in February.

Yesterday, I planned on having her in bed early tonight to get school and house work done. Today, those plans were thrown out the window by a headstrong toddler and her canine companion.

To tire her out today we: ran, painted, danced, wiped cabinets down, folded laundry, put away her clothes, practiced Max’s commands, brushed each other’s hair, destroyed the house, and much, much more. I pulled out all the tricks get her to nap early, but she fought it. After I realized she wasn’t napping, I tried keeping her up. Which she ended up falling asleep standing up/leaning on me.

I gave in.

She’s asleep and bedtime was just in sight. Somedays it feels like I’m rocking motherhood and others just feels like a little pause in the rocking. I feel like maybe I’m just being hard on myself.

After realizing I’m probably not going to be able to do what I wanted, I’ve sat here and thought about Mila’s point of view. Today she got to play all day with her mom and dog. She ate her favorite foods, even cookies in the middle of the day. New music filled the house and with that we danced and laughed. And she ran and giggled and had no cares in the world. She was just herself, living in the moment, not caring what time it was or if she skipped a nap, or if bedtime was soon either. When she finally was tired, she went to the safest place she knew.

I wish I could live more like Mila somedays.

Forget about all the things that should be done. Forget how things should look. Forget about time. Forget everything besides being happy.

So with her hand still holding my pinky, I’m taking in this moment of calm and being her place of comfort. I don’t think I’ll ever stop being surprised with how much her and her brother have taught me about life and living. And tonight… after she wakes up, I’ll live like a toddler with no rules. We’ll eat ice cream and watch ‘Beast’ (Beauty and the Beast). I’ll remember what all toddlers can teach us and that she won’t be this little for much longer.

BIG NEWS!

Without lots of pressure from me, Mila has finally decided to start using the potty!

After a few months of her yelling NO anytime I mentioned using the potty, she finally told me she needed to pee. Then ran to get her potty and went.

After she showed me that she went, we did a dance, high-five’d, and said yay about a thousand times! She’s so proud of herself, and I’m so proud of her! Hopefully she keeps it up and within a few weeks we’ll be done with diapers.

The last time we really tried potty training was last summer; she’d rip her diaper off and go. She had zero interest in sitting, but it did bring a lot of funny moments. Hopefully this go she’ll just keep her momentum, plus have a few laughs here and there too.

I’ll just be over here celebrating her potty journey (aka poop and pee) with her. Parenting is so weird.

My Minutes with Jensen.

I still screenshot every time I see 11:11 pop up on my phone.

After almost FOUR years, it’s still Jensen’s way of saying hello; amongst many others. I take that moment and just look at his face and tap it to my own. It might not be every day, twice a day this time jumps out at me, but it is most of them. I imagine he’s right next to me and I feel a sense calm fall over me.

When I look through the screenshots on my phone, a good amount of them are of Jensen with 11:11 over his head. Four years of screenshots and countless minutes that were just him and I even after he’s been gone.

Recently, I saw an Instagram post from another loss mom that described how it was hard to write about their child now than it was when it was still so raw. I found myself agreeing with everything she said. During that first year and a half, words flowed so easily. I tried my best to put what I was feeling into words and it helped. It helped me heal and remember Jensen in the best way I could.

Since Mila’s been born, it has been hard to write. She fills my day and each time I think I get a minute to write, she either wakes up or finds my laptop extremely interesting to inspect. The words seem to still come to me but get stuck in my head. They jumble up, and when I go to actually get them out, they stop flowing like before.

It’s so hard being without him. Even when it feels like Mila and I are doing good, I know he’s missing. He’ll always be missing and that fact will always make my little family feel incomplete.

I wish I could finish those blog posts that I’ve tried so many times to write. About when I found the notes to Jensen and me from his baby shower or how I already feel the weight of my grief crashing down as April draws nearer.

I really can’t believe he’s going to be four. Just knowing how much I’ve missed out on all things Jensen for four years. I wish I knew his likes and what movie he’d have Mila and me watching 800 times. I wish I could see him be a big brother for Mila and play all day, every day with her. I wish I could hold him tight and never let him go.

Gosh, I miss him.

Anytime I hear Usher, I think of Jensen’s movements. I think of seeing him on the ultrasound screen and watching him cover his face when the wand was over him for too long. I think about this time four years ago about how excited I was to meet him, wondering what kind of mom I was going to be. Now it feels like I’m always waiting for those moments I thought I was going to get with him.

In some ways, I think he still gives me the moments I needed. That’s why I have hundreds of screenshots of 11:11 and the feeling of him giving me an Eskimo kiss during that minute.

For Mama.

One of my top priorities in raising Mila is to make sure she becomes a decent human.

I always tell her please and thank you so she can catch on and do the same. When she does something ‘wrong,’ I explain what could happen and tell her other ways to do something. If she spills something, I have her help me clean up. When she plays with Max or other kids, I encourage her to share. I do my best to try and model the behavior I want her to pick up.

Most days, I worry I’m not doing good enough. She only has me to look up to at home and I’m no where near perfect. I can lose my patience and need a minute to just sit with my thoughts. There are times I raise my voice, then go to her to give the biggest hug and tell her I’m sorry.

I’m a human and I know none of us are perfect, so I’m aiming to be decent and for her to grow up the same.

Mila is nearing TWO! Crazy, right? She’s full force in all things toddler and sometimes I wonder if anything I’m trying to teach her is sticking. Either way, I wanted to celebrate her and my love for her on Valentine’s Day. I got her all the chocolate, a book, flowers, and a HUGE unicorn. She was ecstatic and loved everything.

All she kept saying was OOOHHHH with the most amazing smile. When she realized I was going to let her eat a piece of chocolate before breakfast (gasp), she quickly asked me to unwrap one.

Instead of digging into it, she grabbed another piece.

You haven’t even ate the first piece, Mila. You don’t need two!

Then, as if she was confused why I said anything, she held out the piece of chocolate to me.

For mama. 

Two little words melted my heart. So, I unwrapped a piece for me and took a bite. After she saw me take a bite, she smiled and took a big one herself.

That was the moment I realized everything’s going to be okay. All my fears of not doing good enough for her or not being all she needs went away. She has no idea how much her words and actions affect me. And I don’t give myself enough credit for what mine do for her.


As much as I wanted to leave this on a heartwarming note… I had to show you Mila’s latest reaction to certain “smelly” things. She always knows how to make those around her laugh and smile.

I give up…

I give up.

This was my house after breakfast yesterday morning…

What’s easy to see is Mila licking an almost empty yogurt container, trying to get that last little bit out. Max is laying down on the tent that just looks like it was laying there. A dirty towel lays besides her table, crumbled from use, and the floor… is a mess.

The unseen is where the story behind this picture is way more thrilling. Before the crumbled towel was thrown on the floor, Mila had a full cup of chocolate milk. She refused to let me help her out so it all fell on the floor. While I was trying to clean it up, Mila decided Max was hungry for yogurt and decided to share. Max was napping in the tent, but is always down for getting a snack. When I came back from the laundry room, yogurt covered the floor, tent, Max, and was all through Mila’s hair. As I wiped up the floor, Max and Mila pushed the tent down and when she realized he ate the majority of the yogurt, she started scavenging.

That’s when I just sat down, took a picture, and decided to give up.

My house is never clean anymore. I’m constantly picking up after the two of them and after I think I have everything decent, there’s another mess. Mila gets dressed (with a bow) every morning, but decides she needs multiple outfit changes throughout the day. I cook food for her and I; mostly all of hers goes to him. When I try to work or do school things, I have my little shadow trying to help It feels like I can never get anything done.

But when I was sitting there watching this scene unfold, I realized I needed to give up.

Give up wishing I was the woman with the picture perfect house.

Give up wishing Mila and I always looked 100% presentable

Give up wishing I accomplished more in a day.

Give up unrealistic expectations I put on myself.

This motherhood things is HARD and we put so much on ourselves. Honestly, I’d rather have the memories of watching yogurt fly everywhere and my living room be filled with laughter, than a clean room with Mila being afraid to make a mess.

I don’t know when this season of life will end, but I know it’ll come too soon. Toddlerhood has been a gift for me. Yes, it’s challenging and has tested me, but all the joy it has brought is worth it all.

Mila ended up having to take a bath before noon and splashed ALL the water out of the tub, but she was smiling. I wouldn’t trade that smile or being her mom for the world.

New Adventures in Parenting After Loss.

Parenting after loss is full of ups and downs. There are a lot of days I think of the what if’s and wish to see Jensen and Mila playing together.

Lately, Mila’s been more explorative in how she plays. I showed her how to make a tent by putting a blanket over her little table and she thought it was the coolest thing ever. She’ll play under there for so long and evening puts her animals to bed under there. It’s the sweetest thing ever.

In the back of my mind, I’ve been thinking of Jensen’s teepee I got for him. It was supposed to go in the corner of his room for a little reading area. Since it never got to be put up, it’s been packed away in my basement. This morning, Mila was begging me to get under her little kiddie table and with her, the dog, and I, the table wasn’t cutting it. I decided to be strong and go in Jensen’s corner of the basement to get the teepee.

Honestly, it’s hard. It’s hard to see his stuff that’s never been used and is just there in boxes. Knowing that there’s a live that should have been lived in a corner in my house, truly breaks my heart. I don’t think I’ll ever have the right words to describe what it feels like. But I bet a lot of loss parents know the feeling I’m talking about.

Anyways, I got into his corner and knew right where I was looking. Mila and I brought it back upstairs and I sort of just went into mom mode. Her and I put together this huge 5 foot tall teepee in the middle of the living room. She was shocked to see it and as soon as it was up, she ran right in. Her smile was so big and it just warmed me up.

It turns out Mila, Max, a hundred stuffed animals, and me all fit in this big tent.

Any time Mila has used something of Jensen’s, I’ve never felt regret doing it. She wore some of his clothes, has his crib up, and used his car seat and stroller too. On the other hand, there hasn’t been anything super sentimental she’s used yet. We changed that today and I’m happy to have done it. I let her know this was Jensen’s tent too and he would’ve loved playing in it with her. She nodded and said Jensen’s name, then continued playing.

Jensen will always be her big brother and I’ll always be both of their moms. I don’t think being a loss mom will ever get easier, but I hope learning how to juggle both will. I don’t want Mila to ever think bringing Jensen’s name up or asking questions is a bad thing. Or I don’t want her to be afraid to look at and use his things makes me upset because it doesn’t. It’s just another part of this journey that I’ll figure out.

For now, I’m so proud of the little girl Mila is becoming. She has a brother who will always guide and protect her. Although he might not be here to physically play with her, I know Jensen’s spirit flows through our home. I’m just happy to be here through it all, learning to be the best mom I can.

Parenting after loss isn’t easy, but I’m thankful to be their mother.

Adventure on Mila Rae. There’s so much to see.