Unexpected Gains: An Adventure in Toddlerhood and Grief.

Okay, so, I’ve already failed writing every day in May.

Instead of writing, like I wanted to, I’ve either been outside, redoing things in my house or making DIY Mother’s Day crafts. With all the stuff happening in the world, it’s still nice to just connect with Mila and me to do heartwork and do the things that make us happy.

This week, we went on a hike. It’s the first one of the year and the first time Mila has been out of town for two months (or however long we’ve been locked down). We both love to be outside and the fresh air was so relieving. There are local trails around us and we drove about twenty minutes to this one, the Norma Johnson Center. We’ve had pictures done there before and it’s such a beautiful location. There were a decent amount of people on the trails, but everyone gave each other space and were friendly too.

While we were walking we had a little project, I saw (online) a color recognition scavenger hunt for toddlers and knew we had to try it. Since Mila is liking more colors than just green, I thought it’d be fun to use this while we walked too. She loved walking to the top of the hill and playing in the little kid area. I loved watching her search for the colors. We found the easy ones first but got stuck on blue. She kept saying blue, blue, blue, over and over again, while she was looking. It was so cute and I could tell she was a little disappointed we didn’t find a blue item.

The colors we did find were perfect. She was so proud of all of them and when we were done with our walk, she wanted to touch them all again and show them off. Watching her learn and just become this little, smart person is one of the best feelings ever.

We probably spent an hour in total out there. It wasn’t terribly long, but it was just what we needed.

When I started writing today, I thought I should look back on the May We All Heal prompt for the day… it’s Unexpected Gains. The days Mila and I have are typically always good. She’s a toddler so she definitely has her moments. Every day with her is a gift. Losing Jensen was the hardest thing I will ever have to go through. Even with all the bad in his death, he and Mila helped me find these unexpected gains. Through grief, I’ve found days where I’m lost in the moment. I still have Jensen in my heart and mentally place him where he should be, that’ll always be the case. But completely unexpectedly, I can value joy and peace again. I never thought I’d get that back. Somehow, they both have gifted me this monumental gain and, really, another chance at living fully.

I would one-hundred percent recommend getting outside and even out of your backyard to give your head some space during this time. We’ve felt rejuvenated since our little hike and it’s given us a little push to get a lot of things done this week. As I said, we’ve worked on some DIY Mother’s Day gifts that I want to post on here, so be on the look out!

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.

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.

Mom Fail: Escape Edition.

This is Mila and Max.

Separated, they’re both so adorable. Together, even cuter, but mischievous. Fortunately they get along GREAT, which leads them to having a lot of adventures together. Some not completely okay’d with me.

As with many of Mila’s adventures, I wanted to share her latest way she almost gave me a heart attack. After breakfast a few mornings ago, Mila and Max were playing inside of his kennel, so I decided to go do some laundry. Mila was in just a diaper and I was still in my pajamas. It was a quiet morning and while I was throwing clothes in the dryer, I sort of realized how eerily silent it was. Usually when they play, they’re making some sort of sound or Mila is giggling so loud.

I finished up what I was doing and took my time getting back to check on them. It was sort of weird when they didn’t run back to see what I was doing, but I didn’t think anything of it. When I walked back to the living room and didn’t hear them, I started to worry a little. Then I walked to where Max’s kennel is… they weren’t in there. Even worse, the baby gate AND the back door was open.

Insert panic here.

Everything inside of me was hoping they were outback playing. We’re outside a lot so it would make since they were just there, but the backyard was empty. I took off to the front of the house and looked down the alley.

There they were.

Mila was running down the street in just her diaper after Max. They were about halfway up the road. I yelled for them which only just caused Mila to laugh and run faster. Thankfully we live in a small town and on a quiet street. Still, I took off running, barefoot with my back foot still wide open after them.

I caught up to Mila who looked happy as could be. She informed me she was going to ‘Gigi,’ which is what she calls my mom. My parents live around the block and we walk there almost everyday. They know their way and she pointed to the house.

Max kept running. I guess he knows where to go too. We had to look so silly. A toddler and puppy running down the street with the crazy mom catching them minutes later. Mila and I finally caught up to Max when we got to my parents house…

He looked mighty proud of himself for getting where he needed to be and waiting on us too.

Life with Mila (and Max) is always an adventure, supervised or not. The next adventure I’ll be taking on is making sure the back door is always locked.

Caught in the act… when they try to ‘escape’ the neighbors backyard is where they usually end up.

Guess Who Ran Barefoot Through Fields of Sunflowers…

I know a little girl who ran barefoot among the sunflowers.
With the wind in her hair and dirt on her feet, she laughed freely.
Only looking back to see who follows, she knows she holds all the power.
No matter how wild and free, I’m proud to say this girl belongs to me.

I’m not the best poet in the world, but Saturday was so magical that words flow through me when looking back on pictures. Mila and I had a day full of adventures that I could not predict what all was going to happen.

A few weeks ago, I saw that Ramseyer Farms near Wooster had a sunflower festival going on. I had never been to the farm before or really knew what to expect, but I thought it might be cute for Mila and I to go. Well, it turns out this place is HUGE. There’s so many playgrounds, big slides, farm animals, corn mazes, food, and more that people of all ages can enjoy.

We started off our time at the playground designated for little kids. There was a huge play set that had slides everywhere. I thought Mila was a little too little to go by herself, so of course I went down them with her, check out the video at the end. We unfortunately probably didn’t wear the best clothes, but we rocked it anyways. She loved that I got to play with her and was smiling the entire time. There was also a baby corn maze. She thought it was hilarious and ran right through it. Then, we got to this wagon full of corn that kids could play in. We didn’t leave there for a long time. It was relaxing to just float on top of the corn and I could definitely tell it made her sleepy. So after thirty minutes we went off to the next thing.

I swear Mila was supposed to grow up on a farm because she thrives in this setting. She absolutely loves animals and has no fear of them. They for some reason respect her and are all gentle. I hope she always stays curious and keeps her love for them. Unfortunately when trying to see the little chicks closely, Mila fell of a few steps and hit hard. Of course, right? She’s accident prone, what can I say… Instead of sticking around, we did a little random act of kindness and our quarters by all the animal food so others could have a turn in feeding the goats and pigs too. (By the way, that’s one of our bucket list items we checked off! Only a few more to go!)

Mila and I tried to get to all the playgrounds and big slides, but time went really quick. We went through one corn maze, ate kennel corn, and drank apple cider. I was hoping she’d get some type of sugar rush before we ended our time at Ramseyer Farms in the sunflower fields. Thankfully it worked.

I have never seen anything as cute as Mila running wild in the fields. She refused to wear her shoes after a little while and it just made her look like she belonged there. Lots of people just looked at her and smiled. I think watching a child just be so innocent and carefree brings adults back. With everything I’ve been through, I really live in moments like these. Mila’s taught me to smile and love life again. For that I’ll always be thankful for her.

After picking our sunflowers and getting back to the car. Thank you to the random man who helped me carry everything back. I brought the wrong stroller and no bag… not good planning on my part, but thankfully there’s good people in the world. On the way back home, Mila finally passed out. I didn’t realize we were there for four hours, but loved the day.

As we drove through Strasburg, I noticed that people were sitting really close to the road. They were having their own festival going on and there was a parade! One of the items I didn’t think we were going to get to on the bucket list was a parade. So, while she was still asleep, I found a parking spot and waited until she woke up to walk to a spot. It felt like such a lucky day.

We found a spot next to some people and just enjoyed the rest of the evening. It had felt like Jensen was with us all day, then we got a balloon that was blue and orange. They were everywhere, so it was a nice visual reminder that he’s everywhere we are too. Mila absolutely loved the parade and watching everything go by. She got candy and chocolate, which of course was great to her. Honestly, I couldn’t have asked for a better way to end the day.

I know this post was a really long round up of Saturday, but it’s a day I don’t ever want to forget.

Complete picture overload, but it was too perfect not to document and share. Enjoy this little video of us going down the slide. I wish I had one of us on the huge slice, but maybe that’ll be what we do next time!

Dinner Date at the Lake.

I feel like I just talked about how quickly summer is coming to a close, but it really feels like the days are going faster. Even though there isn’t really any pressure to get the remaining bucket list items done, I’m still trying my best.

Last night, I thought would be a perfect night to combine two of them: lake day and go on a picnic. It sort of turned into lake evening and eat our dinner on a picnic table. Either way, it was a beautiful night.

Mila’s ate outside before, but she was loving the picnic bench. She thought it was cool that the seats and table had holes in it. Then we got to eat Subway for the night, which meant she got a juice box and a cookie. Absolutely wild for her.

It’s not a normal night without Mila falling or getting hurt some way… she did fall off the bench once and bit her cheek. No ER visit thankfully!

One thing that was persistent throughout the night was feeling Jensen with us. It’s a feeling I don’t know how to describe other than just knowing he was there. First it was in the cookie to make Mila feel better.

He always shows up in orange and blue. His colors showed up in the sunset too. It felt like he was surrounding us and watching Mila and Max play while letting me know it was all going to be okay.

Even though we didn’t get a full day at the lake, Max and Mila were loving it. They got their feet in the water and climbed in the rocks. I showed her how to skip rocks, which she thought throwing them was just as fun too.

I know I keep saying I can’t believe how big she’s gotten, but it’s crazy. She’s so strong and smart. Her independence is mind blowing to me. She soaks everything up around her and seeing the world through her eyes is something I’ll always be thankful for.

Through everything we go through life like loss and situations you can’t see the end to, these moments are the ones that keep you going. I miss Jensen so much and can see where he’d be everyday. This bucket list was something to give us things to do for the summer, but it really turned into so much more. I know that probably sounds lame, I just see all these items as memories that’ll never go away.

I’ll never regret the time I get to spend with Mila and I’ll always wish Jensen was here with us. Sometimes dinner at the lake puts everything in perspective… and a lot of beautiful pictures.

Toddler Friendly Bucket List: Ducks and Drive-Ins.

Hello September! I can’t believe summer is almost over and Mila and I still have a few things led to check off our bucket list. Even though Labor Day is the unofficial end of summer, I’m going by the solstice. That means our bucket list needs completely by September 23.

Although it’s gotten a little trickier to get out of the house for long periods of time with Max here, Mila and I marked a few off the last week. Now we can cue the cuteness.

Feed the Ducks

We had so many nice days last week, but I took advantage of last Wednesday. After a lunch date, we went to Tuscora Park to see the ducks. Mila has gotten super interested in animals. Every animal she sees she wants to go pet or tries to call them to her. I was really excited to see how she’d react to all the ducks.

I don’t know why I didn’t think she’d be different with the ducks. She kept slapping her leg for them to come up to her and finally she decided she was going to get to pet them one way or another. Right after I took the above picture, she tried to go right into the little pond to get the ducks. Thankfully I got her out before she got all the way in…

When she realized we could go up by the fence and actually throw food (oatmeal which is safe for ducks!) she got excited. First, she thought she deserved a snack too.

It didn’t take any time for her to give the whole mason jar of oatmeal to the ducks. They were very pleased with their little snack and Mila thought it was the coolest thing. It’s definitely something we’ll continue to do in the future.

Drive-in Movies

Lets just say, this picture perfectly captures how well the drive-ins went.

This past weekend, Mila and I went to the Lynn Drive-In Movies. It’s the oldest drive-in movies in Ohio and the second oldest in the whole world! It’s such a treasure for us to have locally and holds so many past memories for me hopefully future ones for Mila. The Lion King was the first movie of the night and since Mila is loving on animals, I thought it’d be perfect to take her to.

The back of my Jeep turned into a makeshift bed. We had so many blankets and pillows piled up to make it feel homey and comfy. I came prepared with snacks and drinks, but we just had to buy popcorn too. Mila thought it was pretty cool that we were in the back of the car and eating chocolate. She was all smiles and when the previews started, she couldn’t believe her eyes.

I can only imagine what was going on in her head when she saw all the animals talking. She enjoyed the music and was pretty into the movie. A little before halfway, she started snuggling up to me. I knew she had to be tired. She finally settled while cuddling and soon after she was fast asleep.

To be honest, I thought I would be super overwhelmed with taking her to the drive-ins at this age. She’s not super into watching TV yet and is usually running around. I figured she’d be mad she wasn’t allow to run outside or just be fussy since it was late. She blew all my expectations and I’m actually wanting to take her more times next year.

I’m hoping to knock a few more off the list this week. Fingers crossed the weather stays semi nice and we get them done!

Also, I’ve been obsessed with this picture. She’s growing up to be such a little lady.

I’m thinking about a fall bucket list too. If any of you have suggestions with what we could put on it, please let me know in the comments.

One Weekend In Cincinnati: Toddler Included.

It’s my birthday week and to celebrate early, my family treated me to a weekend in Cincinnati! To be completely honest, I have no idea why they’re so encouraging in my celebration this year since I’m just turning twenty-six… but I’m loving every moment of it.

So why Cincy, especially with a toddler?

Three reasons, which will make for great bullet points for this post. Two of them checked off items off the bucket list and the other, well, it was just all for me. Plus, it’s only about a four hour drive from where we live, which makes it a great weekend escape.

Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden

I have been patiently waiting for the right moment to take Mila back to the zoo. We went a couple months ago to the Akron Zoo and she really enjoyed it. Now she’s even more into animals so I was excited to see how she reacted.

The Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden is the second oldest zoo in the United States. It houses 1,896 animals and there is so much plant life as well. Some facts or bits of information you might recall about the zoo is the death of the gorilla Harambe and the birth of Fiona the hippo. Both have made national news in the last five years. There’s also a ton of other information you might want to look up if you’re in surrounding states before you’d want to go. You know, incase my recommendation of the zoo isn’t enough.

Anyways, we drove over Saturday morning and went directly to the zoo. We got there around 12:30 and didn’t leave until 7. It was a HOT day and I’m so thankful we got some rain on us to cool us down. They did have fans with mist throughout the park, which Mila was obsessed with. There was a lot of shade throughout the zoo too and great indoor exhibits that got us out of the sun as well. They had awesome food and such a wide range of animals to see. I was really impressed with how big the enclosures were. I always feel bad they’re stuck there, but the animals seemed really content with their surroundings.

The best part of the zoo for me was seeing Mila react to her surroundings. After we first walked in, we went to see reptiles. She was shocked when she saw the alligators and snakes. Her mouth was wide open and she kept looking at me like, “Mom, do you see that huge animal right there. It’s not fluffy like our cats.” She would point to every animals she saw and loved watching the birds. When we got to the mountain lion part of the zoo, they were doing an ‘encounter,’ which meant they were testing the animals instincts and treating them with meat. Mila realized the mountain lion was going to be right in front of the glass, so she just took off and pushed her way in front of everyone. She smashed her face on the glass to get a closer look and everyone was laughing at her because she was so intently watching. Thankfully she smiled and laughed at the people… there.

Even though she loved seeing all the animals and watching us interact with some of the educational games the zoo had set up, Mila had her toddler moments. The whole entire time, she did not want to sit in her stroller. She wanted to push it herself with NO help. When we would try to help her steer or grab the handle, she would yell “NO” or “DON’T.” Eventually she gave up and let herself sit for a while. She had to be tired, but didn’t nap until we got back to the car. Then, in the gorilla exhibit, she pushed a little girl down and yelled at a little boy. For no reason really, just because they were close to her and she didn’t want them to be. What can you even say though? I’m constantly trying to tell her to be nice, but she has a mind of her own.

Thankfully those were only minor incidents with her. She loved watching all the animals and smiled every chance she got. I can’t wait until the next time we go back to the zoo and she’ll know what sounds the animals make and maybe won’t be a little bully too.

King’s Island: Soak City

When I put ‘waterpark’ on our bucket list, I just thought we’d go to our local one. This one though… way better. There were different attractions for all ages to do. Mila loved playing in one particular area, but also ventured out in other areas that might have been a little advanced. She went down this ship slide a few times and then decided she was queen of it. During this time, she directed all the other kids to go down the slide and would tap on their backs when they weren’t going fast enough. Have I raised a strong willed child? Yes. Do I regret it? No, maybe at times now, but when she grows up, she won’t let anyone push her around.

She loved that our whole family was in the water playing with her. We splashed her in the kiddie pool and threw her back and forth in the big wave pool. On the kid slides, we attempted her to go down as many as we could do. She was a little afraid of a few of them, but I’m glad she got to experience what she thought she was ready for. The grownups, had fun playing with Mila and riding different rides. I think everyone enjoyed their time there, even though it completely wore us out.

Something memorable I did was take a waterproof, disposable camera with me. I take a TON of pictures and I wanted to make sure I didn’t hurt my phone and was able to get up and close with Mila in the water. I’m pretty sure she held the camera more saying “cheeeeeeese,” than I actually had it in my hands. No matter what though, I’m so thankful for what we captured on camera, but more happy about the lasting memories we made together.

Watching Mila discover the world and travel is everything I ever wanted for her. I’m so thankful we are able to go to different places and do things that aren’t always easy to do. These are the days that are so special to me and it truly made my birthday week, even though it’s not even over yet.

Rhinegeist Brewery

I know this post has gotten entirely long, so I’m keeping this short and simple. Rhinegeist holds my beer of the summer and it’s called Bubbles. This brewery is probably one of my favorite places in the world and I’d recommend it to anyone. Definitely check it out if you’re in the area. You will not be disappointed.

Plus it had a pretty amazing rooftop too.

So, there’s a few more bucket list items checked off. We’ll be working diligently to get the rest off as well. Fingers crossed. It’s going to be a busy next few days.

Toddler Summer Bucket List: Market Vibes

Instead of following all the professional advice given this weekend about beating the heat, we went to a market! Granted, we got there early and a nice breeze kept us a little cooled off, so no one got overheated.

Every year, I try to go to the 720 Market. It’s location varies through North/Canton, Ohio throughout the year. Last year, I went to the fall one at a vineyard called Gervasi. It was absolutely beautiful, but my favorite since I’ve started going is in North Canton. They advertised over 110 tents, trucks, and trailers to be there and it did not disappoint. The whole downtown of North Canton was blocked off to give them enough room. There was cool off areas and plenty of vendors who offered water, fans, and much needed shade. In the middle, they had bands playing throughout the day and games in the yard beside.

Even though it was going to be super hot, my mom and brother’s fiancé joined Mila and I. Honestly, I was a little worried about how Mila would take the heat. She’s definitely likes to stay cool and can get a little bit of a temper when she’s hot. Good thing she learned how to say ‘hot’ during our trip to Savannah and Hilton Head so I’m not completely clueless about her needs. She didn’t just drop saying hot right away, but her red cheeks let me in on how hot it actually was.

Through the first section I bought some things for my house and my bathroom that’s getting remodeled… I’ll make sure to show you all when it’s done! We taste tested pickles and Mila ate her sample and looked for more. The more we walked, the redder her cheeks got. Someone suggested a popsicle stand to take her to, so off we went. The three of us adults got this coffee float thing and Mila got a nice messy popsicle.

If you couldn’t guess, messy was the keyword there. I should have definitely not picked a dark, blueberry one. BUT you live and learn. This picture makes me laugh so much, looks like she’s throwing up hand signs. The popsicle did the trick of cooling her off and gave her a little more pep in her step. She got out of the stroller and danced around to the music for awhile. Then pushed her stroller around… and hit about 100 people while she was at it.

We probably could’ve spent more time there, but we were all getting really hot. A few pictures later and we were off.

I’m really glad Mila did so well in the heat. Markets are so fun for me to go to and see how creative people can be. If you’re in the Ohio area, I would most definitely recommend the 720 Marker and I linked their Facebook page earlier in this post. If you’re in Ohio and have any other kid friendly marketplaces we should go to, let me know! I have a feeling we’ll be going more when the weather cools off.

For now, we’re soaking up all these summer vibes and enjoying everyday. We survived the heat wave this weekend and Mila’s enjoying our rainy day in.

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.