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!

Rainbow Hunting.

One of Mila’s favorite things to do is paint… hence the paint still on her face.

She knows exactly where all the materials are and goes up to them and says, ‘I paint!’ We usually try to paint twice a week, but it can be a lot sometimes. She’s not super into coloring yet, but I’m going to keep pushing it.

Anyways, while looking for activities to do while we’re locked down, I actually got invited to a random Facebook group. It’s called 518 Rainbow Hunt – Spreading Rainbows Worldwide. If you look it up on Facebook, it’ll pop up and you can join the group.

It’s really cool actually. There’s a Google link that you can add your house or whatever to show that you are participating. You can also just post a picture too. I loved looking at everyone rainbows and really enjoy how someone created something so creative to spread hope during this time. Plus, I love rainbows. They mean so much to me and Mila will always be my rainbow personified.

Well, this morning, Mila asked if she could paint. I had already planned out to do this craft Monday night, so we jumped right into it. So, I low key feel like a weird person because I made one too, but Mila thought it was so cool that I painted with her. She hyped me up by clapping every time I painted another layer to the rainbow. Just as I did for her too.

They both turned out so good. I’m so proud of Mila and how well she did keeping the colors where they needed to be. This is one of my favorite little projects we’ve done. I had fun with it and Mila did too. She got it all over herself and face. Some age was doing that, I added clouds and a string to each so we could hang them up in the windows.

While Mila napped, which she did immediately after this, I went and hung them up. I am SO proud of how they turned out and that her painting skills are getting more consistent.

I love the symbol of rainbows and how they instill hope. Through this time of isolation, I think we all need a little hope and to know there’s an eventual end in this craziness. I also love that my rainbow made one for herself too. She has no idea how special she is and what she means to me. Here’s a closer look at Mila’s little rainbow. If you’re local and know where I live, you’re able to see it in the window.

Our next craft is going to be salt dough Easter eggs. I wanted to start a tradition with getting wooden eggs and have her decorate one every year, but I can’t go to Joann’s this year. So instead, we’re going to make a bunch of the salt dough ornaments and decorate them. I’ll make sure to share when I do that and the recipe I use too!

As always, if you have any recommendations of what Mila and I should do, let me know! I’ve been trying to look at some of The Mama Notes activities. It’s a really good blog with a ton of different things for toddlers to do. These rainbows are inspired by her posts earlier this month. There she talks about using other supplies on hand rather than just paint. Some used ribbon, paper, and other supplies that made beautiful rainbows. Mila just likes paint so, that’s what we went with. Also, if you decide to make a rainbow for the rainbow hunt, posts in the comments or in the community Facebook group. I love seeing all the rainbow pictures and knowing we’re not all alone through this.

From 'Beast' to 'Nice Mama.'

Funny story…

A few weeks ago, Mila went to bed early and I finally had some time for quality self care… or so I thought.

I ran the hottest bath I could muster, poured myself a drink, and played non Disney music. It was so relaxing that I just shut my eyes and could have been there for all eternity.

Then, five minutes into the most relaxing moment I had in weeks, I hear Mila crying and yelling for me. Her little footsteps were running all over the house searching. I ended up yelling for her and she sounded to relieved to her my voice. She came in and immediately stripped her clothes off to jump in the bath with me.

While she was getting undressed, I put a face mask on and she must have not seen me do so. After getting all her clothes off, she looked up at me and it was like I had disappeared and the ‘beast’ had taken my place.

She kept saying ‘back beast!’ I don’t think she thought I was me until I said her name and let her know it was just me in the tub and I only had a face mask on.

Lets just say she didn’t get to close to me with the mask on and when I took it off, she was shocked. She wouldn’t touch the mask or anything. When it was off I told her to touch my face and see how soft it was. She said ‘niiiiice mama.’ Then pointed back at the mask and said, ‘bad beast.’

Yes, I’m totally aware that that particular mask is a tad bit creepy and although I did feel a little bad she was scared of me in it, I totally laughed at her.

Mila would 10/10 not recommend sheet masks.

So, last night, Mila and I were in the bath and I was feeling stressed. I got a mud mask to put on and was worried the same thing was going to happen. Thankfully, the complete opposite happened and now I think I made an even bigger girly girl out of her.

She definitely knows how to brighten my day, even when it feels like everything in the world is going to hell.

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.

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.