Its just an inch, but feels like a mile.

Today we made a memory. One that isn’t going to go away any time soon either. I marked Mila’s height on one for the doorways in our house.

Through this little mark, I learned two things. The first, Mila is actually pretty tall. I didn’t realize it until I stepped back and saw how high it was compared to a door. When I see her running around, I still see a little girl. I know she’s getting tall, but wow. The second thing… how much I’ve healed in four years.

I know that probably sounds silly. How does a little mark show growth? For me it’s the permanence of the mark. When I was pregnant with Mila and for so long, I thought I was going to lose her. I thought she was going to die so many times during pregnancy and that first year. Then I thought she’d be taken away with the psychological mind games that were played with me.

It sounds dramatic and overboard, but it’s true. She’s mine and no one can take her away, but I never believed she could stay. I felt like if I let myself believe it, something would happen. It’s been an awful battle. But she’s not going anywhere.

When I look at that little mark, I can picture the next sixteen years of measuring her. You know if she lets me and all. But I’ve never been able to see past so many years ahead. I’ve always thought I just had today. Those intrusive thoughts with parenting after loss are hard and can suck the joy out of everything. I’m really trying though.

We made a memory today and the physical memory is about an inch long. I know when I look back on those hashes, I’ll see Mila wanting me to remeasure her and the shock in her face that mama drew on the wall. I’m sitting here picturing how tall she’ll be next year and thinking I’ll write what she wants to be when she grows up beside them too.

I’m so happy about her growing and progressing. There are so many moments I wish I could pause, but I want her to keep getting older and growing as big as she’ll get. I know what it’s like to not have my child grow and have their hashmark on the doorway. Jensen has taught me so much about life and myself and Mila is teaching me how to move forward and grow. One piece of information doesn’t shadow the other. The light and heavy are always present in my life. I’m just doing my best juggling the both of them and making sure they both know how much I love them.

This is Two.

Mila turned two yesterday! Celebrating during a pandemic was something I’d never even thought would happen. She didn’t miss a beat though! When we first woke up, I sung happy birthday to her and the rest of the morning she danced and sang. During breakfast, she requested to watch ‘Anna,’ which is Frozen. It was such a fun morning, I’ll never forget it.

I will say, it seems like between Monday night and Tuesday morning, Mila learned a bunch of new phrases and words. It seems silly, but it’s like as soon as she turned two she jumped further into toddlerhood. I know she’s been expanding her vocabulary, but it felt like a huge leap! She’s been saying, ‘what the heck’ and ‘what happened’ over and over.

Anyways, we ended up doing a little photoshoot. If you don’t follow me on other social media, we celebrated with ‘Taco Twosday.’ Our little setup was fiesta inspired and even had a homage to the coronavirus. It was funny and made me laugh. Mila looked so cute. She was supposed to wear a little sombrero, but REFUSED to keep it on. There were so many cute pictures and I’m glad, now, we took them.

Let me tell you… anything with patience and staying still is not Mila’s forte. She is a runner and moves constantly. It was a workout to get the pictures I did. Midway through, she had a completely toddler tantrum to the point I made her lay down to take a break. That break turned into a two hour nap. BUT, I loved the pictures we got and the memories we made. Two can be difficult. Lots of emotions and things going on in her head!

Afterwards, we had a little fiesta at my parents house. My dad and Mila share their birthday. I remember when I was in labor, he was hoping they’d have the same birthday and said it was the best gift. Its heartwarming to me that they have this bond.

Mila is obsessed with blowing out candles and made us relight them two or three times. I made her cake and my mom made my dads. Obviously you can see the little finger swipes in Mila’s cake. I wish I could’ve heard her thoughts because she thought it was amazing she had her own cake.

After dinner, cake, and presents, we had gotten a piñata for her to hit. It was pure comedy. She had a piñata stick and everything. For some reason, she was in this hunter/spear fisher pose to hit it. (I’ll post one of the videos) Honestly, I want to go get another piñata for her to just take her aggression out. We let her play with it for like fifteen minutes until we broke it. She would’ve easily played with it for a lot longer! Just a little heads up if you’re looking for something for your toddler to do. Would not recommend keeping the stick in reach, since she chased me around the house with it today.

I won’t go on forever about the day, but I truly was so special. There are times parenting is so hard and days like this make all those moments seem so not important. Seeing her smile and just be happy is unexplainable.

It’s hard to believe she is two, but it’s here. I can’t wait to see what this year has in store for her.

Yesterday while she napped, I wrote this…

This is TWO.

This is pure madness at every corner. This is growing. This is having fun. This is pushing the limits. This is her becoming the person she is meant to be.

Her two doesn’t look like anyone else’s two and I’m so happy for that. No matter where this next year takes us, I know she’ll blossom in all she does.

Mila’s Easter Basket 2020

Easter is tomorrow and since Mila is napping (finally today), I decided to put together her Easter basket and share it with everyone! I might have went a little overboard this year… I’m blaming it on her birthday and Easter being so close together AND I went to this new (to me) store in a nearby town that I went overboard in.*

*Although getting Easter/birthday presents for Mila might not ‘seem’ essential, it made me feel better to keep the magic alive. We were safe! Social distancing and lots of hand sanitzer were used!*

Why did I go overboard in this store? They had really cute little wooden toys for not a lot of money. I’ve been into wooden toys instead of plastic the last few months for environmental reasons and I’ve noticed Mila plays for longer amount of times when she plays with simple toys. Wooden toys can be super expensive so just finding these small ones made me happy and it was nice to my debit card. Last year, Mila got a book, stuffed animal, and maybe one or two small things. I don’t really like making gifts a huge deal and she doesn’t need anything, but I think the lockdown has inspired me to get new toys and stuff for her rotation.

ANYWAYS, here’s all the items in her basket laid out.

  • Black and white ‘M’ leotard – Witts End Design
  • Pete the Cat: Big Easter Adventure Amazon
  • Bowling Game – Legacy Learning
  • Chocolate Bunny, Pink Bunny Chocolate Sucker, and Small Chocolate Bunnies – Eiler Candy Shop
  • Other Random Chocolate and My Little Pony Chocolate Egg – Local Grocery Store
  • Bath Bomb, Sticker Sheets, Chalk, Wooden People, Wooden Puzzle/Blocks, Stuffed Animal – New Local Consignment Shop

Honestly, this is everything Mila loves in a basket. The two items I ordered from Etsy and the Pete the Cat book were ordered before the lockdown. Once I realized everything was going to take a long time to get, I just hurried and ordered. I love her leotard and got her another one for her birthday (WHICH IS ON TUESDAY!!!). The material is so nice and I love the fluffy sleeves. I can’t wait for gymnastics to start up again so Mila can wear them, although she’ll probably wear them before then when we do at home practice moves. The toddler bowling game is made so nice. I absolutely love it and Mila’s really been into figuring out how games work, so I know this will be fun for us to play tomorrow. Legacy Learning’s Etsy shop has so many different learning toys and activities. I actually bought her a threading toy for her birthday too. They came in these cute little storage bags that we’ll use to keep everything together. Would so recommend them!

I’m a tiny bit worried about all the chocolate, but she obviously won’t eat it all in one day. She’s obsessed with M&Ms, but I think she’ll be super excited about the little ‘bun buns.’ Can someone come hide all the chocolate in my house so Mila AND I don’t eat it all.

When I find out the name about this local consignment shop, I’ll make sure to add it in here for my local friends. I got the wooden people (and there’s two dragons too), the wooden puzzle/blocks, the bath bomb, the stuffed bunny, and sticker sheets for under $15. I did snag other things for her birthday too, rolling my eyes because I’ve went overboard this year, but I didn’t spend more than $30 for everything I got her.

Tomorrow morning is going to be so magical when she has to hunt for her basket. I think she’ll be so excited when she sees it too. We’re going to be coloring eggs tonight and I have another craft I want to do when she wakes up from her nap. I’ll try to post our craft tonight because it’s definitely Easter appropriate and might be nice to do tomorrow.

If I don’t get to sharing the Easter craft tonight, I hope you all have a happy and peaceful Easter. I know it’s way different than past Easters, but we can do it.

I’d love to see your Easter baskets too. If you’d like to share, feel free to in the comments.

Toddler Activity: Salt Dough

When I first thought about doing Easter crafts, I wanted to get wooden Easter eggs to paint. With everything going on, I didn’t want to leave my house with Mila and chance anything. Instead, I started seeing recipes for salt dough and knew I had everything on hand. I just didn’t realize they were going to be such a labor of love.

The salt dough recipe I used was:

1 cup flour

1/2 cup salt

1/4 to 1/2 cup of water

Then, preheat over to 200 and bake for hours*

Simple enough right? I measured out all the ingredients the night before we made the dough so it was ready to go for Mila and me.

Mila loved mixing the ingredients together. She insisted on pouring everything in and using the spoon to mix it. When I told her to use her hands, she gave me a weird look and ran away. Funny enough, she went to put her hands in the dirt, which I guess is better in her eyes? Anyways, I kneaded the dough until I thought it was good enough. Since it was our first time, I wasn’t exactly sure how it needed to be, but we went with it. It reminded me of pizza dough.

After I had rolled it out and was ready to cut, dilemma there… mila was ready to help out again. I wanted to make eggs shapes, but it turns out I only have Christmas cookie cut outs and rainbow/unicorn/magic ones. I ended up using the top of a mason jar, grabbing the top of it to stretch the dough out in an egg-like shape. Obviously it wasn’t perfect, but it worked out for us.

Along with a few weirdly, shaped eggs, I had Mila make two little handprints as well. I only have a few hand and foot prints of Mila since she’s been born. I thought it was a perfect time to do it for us, since she turns two here so soon. She kept saying ‘hand’ and wanted to make more prints. I do think I’ll try to make salt dough hand imprints every year since she enjoyed it and to mark her growth.

Anyways, the handprints and eggs were formed and ready for the oven. Up until this point, I thought it was all going really well.

I kept checking the ornaments every hour. After a couple hours, I still didn’t feel like they were done completely. They still felt mushy and maybe I just didn’t do it right? Or maybe they would’ve hardened up after I took them out of the oven? I’m really unsure where I messed up, but I had them in the oven for a crazy amount of time. Probably like seven hours in all. Next time I try to make something like this, I’m going to see if it was just a first time fluke or maybe I’m just bad at making them.

After they were finally done, I spray painted them white and let Mila paint most of the eggs and her hands, but one, because I really wanted to join the fun.

I think they turned out amazingly, especially after everything and all the time we put in them. Mila loves holding her hand. This Easter craft will be something Mila and I look back on in the future and smile about. I feel like it’ll always be excited to pull them out and see what she did when she was almost two!

Ever since she was born, I knew I wanted to make these type of memories with her. I missed so many with Jensen. Plus, Mila has fun with them so it’s not completely in vain.

Instead of just stringing them up in the house, I did something a little special. A few days ago, I read something about how communities are putting eggs in their windows for kids to go on ‘Easter egg hunts’ amidst social distancing. I thought this was so cute and I’m hoping some other people in our town have done the same! This is what I have strung in one of my windows.

If you live by me and are hunting for eggs, your kids will definitely be able to find them! I can’t wait to see everyone else’s.

So, although we had a little trouble with our baking, I love how everything came out. Mila had a blast and we were able to create some magic for Easter this year.

If anyone has made salt dough in the past, did it take ages for yours to bake? If not, do you have any tips or idea in what I did wrong? LOL. Just trying to get better for next time!

Toddler Activity: Easter Painting

One of my favorite activities to do with Mila is her seasonal painting.

Since she was eight months old, I’ve had Mila paint with festive colors. Her first one was Christmas inspired. She had so much fun doing it, I wanted to keep on going. I’m unsure how many paintings I have now, but there’s no plans on stopping. The wall where her paintings hang has transformed into this seasonal activity wall, which is fun to update throughout the year.

The last one we did was for Valentine’s Day and I was up on the air of doing an Easter or birthday inspired one until summer. After I brought my spring decorations up, I figured I could combine the two with my other things.

Mila loves animals and lately (thanks Pets 2) has loved ‘bun buns’ or bunnies. I decided to incorporate a bunny in her painting and use colors that she enjoys so it wasn’t just Easter inspired.

To do this, I cut out a bunny head and taped it on a canvas. I let Mila choose the colors and where to put them on there. After I got the paint out, she brushed where she wanted to as normal. She picked blue, purple, pink, and yellow. After each color, I had her go play while I let the paint dry, so thankful for hair dryers.

Some of the paint did leak through the paper, so it wasn’t a perfect blanked out spot. After I got it dried and pulled it off, I put some white paint to touch it up. It turned out really cute and I like it not being ‘perfect.’ She was so proud of it too and kept pointing to the spot yelling ‘bun bun.’

She did such a good job with it and I really love the layered look. This can be altered to any color and image you’d like to blank out. I think tape would be easier to use, but harder to make a specific shape. This worked best for us and like I said, it’s not supposed to be picture perfect, an almost two year old made it!

I think this would be a great, quick project during quarantine to do with kids of all ages.

We’re doing more Easter crafts this week that I didn’t get to quite finish up this weekend. We’re finally decorating our salt dough ornaments and they turned out pretty good. I’ll be posting about that, my new gardening venture, and some Earth month things!

April… We Meet Again.

Amidst everything happening in the world and the personal things too, I’ve not been looking forward to April. It’s the fourth one since everything changed. That feeling of grief climbing out of my chest is present.

Some part of me thought this April would be different with the coronavirus, Mila being a lively almost two year old, and dealing with things happening closely to me that I can not control. Yet, here I am. The last few days, it’s weighed on me more heavily. I just can’t believe it’s been another year without him.

I’m trying to be positive, but it’s just unfair. All the things I ‘should’ be doing for Jensen are more present around these days. I keel thinking about how much different quarantine would be with him. Life in general just would be… different. It’s so hard to explain. There’s no word or explanation that would make sense to other people. Here we are almost four years later and I can’t quite find the words to describe how sucky it is to not have your kid with you.

Mila helps. I’m weary of typing that because it’s unfair to her and parents who can’t or choose not to have more children; but she helps me. She makes me smile and I remember April is her month too. Jensen wouldn’t want her to be sad or for us not to celebrate how beautiful this month is even though it’s filled with sadness too. I know Mila senses the sadness. She’ll come over and flash her smiles, stroke my face, and just give me a kiss. I know deep down he picked her out for me.

One thing I’ve learned through it all is we’ll make it. Somedays you just have to take it second by second, but we’ll survive.

Like I’ve said in the past, the days leading are always worse than the actual day. Grief makes anticipation feel like dread. This past weekend, Mila hasn’t felt well and I was scared that it’d roll into April. So when she woke up fever free and happy, I knew it’d get easier.

We actually went and picked up a picnic table/bench that we’ll probably use frequently in the next few months (social distancing was practiced). She’s immediately taken a liking to it and it just makes me feel better. Finding happy moments when everything feels heavy makes the day a little nicer.

I’m hopeful April’s will get easier. I’m hopeful that I’ll start celebrating them again. I’m hopeful that Jensen’s day will be seen as happy and I won’t be as sad. I know I’ll always carry the grief and heaviness of losing him, but I’m getting to a part in my journey where it can coincide with happiness simultaneously.

Today I’m just grateful for Jensen, Mila, and watching her cheesy fingers throw Cheetos to Max. I’m hopeful for peaceful April’s and breakfasts our on our new picnic table. This year, I’m ready for April and going into year five of grieving.

Mom Tip of the Week: Water Works.

Today was absolutely BEAUTIFUL outside. We had sunshine and warmish weather this morning and afternoon. Mila and I were outside for like three hours and I feel so refreshed. We try to get outside for a little bit every day, but it’s just different when it’s perfect out.

ANYWAYS…

Since it was so nice outside and I needed to get some things done, I knew I had to get Mila doing an activity. We had brunch, the she free played in the yard while I started on my homework this week. It’s like she has this alarm in her head when I get my laptop out. As soon as I started typing, she ran over to me and sat in my lap. It happens and I can’t be mad at her cute face. I asked her to go rake the leaves back in the pile and I’d get a sentence or two done and she was yelling at me.

I was looking around at what I could distract her with and all I could see was her water table, which I would 100% recommend to anyone. The big thing with getting the water table is she would have water everywhere and it’s not that warm out.

But I know water works; especially with Mila.

I went inside my house and went to get a big tub from my storage container to put water in. Then, I filled it up like a quarter of the way and had her pick up all the balls in our yard. To make it fun, I put Dawn dish soap in there to make bubbles. She loves swishing water around to make them bigger so that was a hit. I also got different cups/containers, utensils, and her bath baby.

With all the parenting blogs and instagram accounts I follow, they all recommend using tongs to promote fine motor skills. I finally got Mila do use them and she was picking up all the balls. She played with just the tongs for like thirty minutes. When she was over that, I told her to give her baby a bath and to make sure all the balls were squeaky clean. She was occupied for about an hour, which gave me plenty of time to write my discussion board posts and replies. j

Water works! I think it’s so cool how interested toddlers, and kids in general, are so into playing with water. Mila will fill up a cup and empty it in the bath for such a long time. Anytime she’s grump, I’ll put her in the bath or put a towel under a tub so she can play inside when it isn’t nice out.

After playing and cleaning everything up, Mila was ready for her ‘nack’ (snack), watched Moana, and is still napping. I’d say it was a pretty successful morning and afternoon playing in the water.

Peep the Nutella on Mila’s face…

Yeah, my ‘mom tip’ might be pretty weak, but being under lockdown can feel overwhelming for parents and that thirty minutes to an hour can truly make it or break it. Although we did it as an outdoor activity, don’t be afraid to bring it indoors. I’m feeling a lot less stressed today with some me time and checking items off my to do list today.

And I just love sharing how Mila’s growing with you all. If any activities help you as well, then it’s even better.

I hope you guys are keeping sane throughout this madness! As always, if you have any fun toddler activities, I’d love to hear and try them out!

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.

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.