I got a custom painting done and here was my experience.

If you would walk into my house, you would be able to tell a few things:

  1. A toddler and a dog reside here.
  2. There’s a lot of plants.
  3. I love art.

My walls are covered with art, pictures, and things that make me happy. Art comes in so many different types of forms and it’s a great way to represent what’s going on inside my head… just on my walls.

I’ve always wanted to get something custom done for just me, but the opportunity never arose. Until a few weeks ago.

On Instagram, someone I followed shared this one-line artwork and I was obsessed. The artist’s name is Ami Pruett and I dove deep into her website. Her paintings and prints really struck me, but one stuck out. She has a mother, baby – rainbow edition that I thought was beautiful. I was just about to put it in my cart, until I saw she did custom paintings.

Instantly, I reached out and sort of told her my family’s story and how much I longed to have an image of me, Jensen, and Mila all represented the same. All our family pictures we have, Jensen is represented in his bear or a picture, which is amazing and I love doing.

But… thinking there was some way we could be interconnected and together really spoke to me.

Ami got back to me a couple days later and we went for it.

She seriously was amazing to communicate and work with. Obviously, I feel comfortable sharing Jensen and our family’s story with others, but Ami was so genuine in just her website and Instagram, that I felt SO comfortable trusting her with something that meant so much to me.

The process was pretty simple.

Again, I told her my idea of what I wanted the art to portray and we bounced ideas off of each other. She came up with two designs to show me and we both agreed on the one.

Honestly, seeing both of the designs was intriguing. I think just having something custom for me on paper felt surreal.

Anyways, after I picked the design, it went quick.

I could’ve customized it with different paint, but I stuck to black. She gave me different options. So, it was nice to know that people have choices in what works best with their own individual decor style and personality.

While I knew she was working on it, I stalked her Instagram for updates. I felt like a kid on Christmas when I saw her working on it.

After approving the pencil work, she painted. Seeing it completely done for the first time made me cry. It’s absolutely beautiful and perfect; even better than what I had envisioned in my head.

This isn’t the painting’s forever home, I want to get the perfect frame for it. It deserves the best.

I would 100% recommend Ami to anyone who loves her style. She just dropped new prints for Valentine’s Day, which showcase love perfectly. I definitely scooped one of them up.

Ami, if you’re reading, thank you SO much again. You have no idea how much this painting fills my heart. It helps bring my family together in a way we can never be. I’ll have no way to truly thank you for that feeling.

Have you ever gotten a custom painting done before?

My Best Advice to New Moms.

I’ve seen so many new babies and pregnancy announcements all over my newsfeed.

It had me thinking what I would have wanted to know before both of my pregnancies. But, didn’t really find out until after I had both of my kiddos.

So here’s my little pieces of advice to all of you.

Take time for you.

This is so important. When you become a mom, everything revolves around your child. It’s easy to put yourself on the back burner.

If you have the option to take time for just you, take it. Not just an extra few minutes in the shower or running errands alone. Do something to treat yourself. Put a face mask on and read a book. Go get your nails or hair done. Walk outside and listen to your favorite podcast.

Whatever you do, just do something that refreshes you.

As a single mom, I KNOW this is hard. Maybe I’ll make a post that gives you tips on how to make time for self care and self love. You just deserve that time!

Take a bunch of pictures.

This one seems pretty simple enough, but it’s a great reminder.

Babies and kids change so much in such a short time. Take pictures and capture them in those moments forever. You can get a Google account and upload pictures there. Or get a huge external hard drive so you can always look back and remember them while they were so itty bitty.

One things I was diligent about doing with Mila the first two years was making Shutterfly books. You can read all about it here.

You’ll never regret taking a ton of pictures, trust me.

Nothing goes as planned.

I wish I had known about this long ago.

No matter what type of pregnancy you have, birth plan you want to follow, or way you want to parent your child, they have their own agendas. I never thought I still would be breastfeeding almost three years out or have Mile in bed with me. Yet, here we are.

If you have your heart set out on something and it doesn’t work, that’s okay! Other things will work out, I promise you that. Your child will lead you to what works best with them.

It might not go as planned, but it will work out.

There will be messes.

Oh, yes. There will be hundreds of messes you didn’t even know that were possible to have.

When I think back to the first few months with Mila, flashbacks of messes just pop in my mind. In the early days, it was a lot of bodily functions. I know, so gross right. At one point, you sort of just roll with those punches and get over it.

Heads up though, they stay messy… or maybe it’s just my kid.

There’s always something being destroyed. Maybe it’s flour or powdered sugar all over your floor. Somedays it’s still poop. Others it’s all the toys in your house all over the floor, or in our case the bathtub.

This time goes entirely too fast.

Don’t blink, they’ll be walking and talking before you know it!

This piece of advice is the most complicated one on the list. It’s so sad that they grow up so quick. One day you have your infant in your arms and the next they’re crawling all over your house. You can’t believe how much they’ve grown!

It’s also helpful to know when you’re going through the hell weeks. Yeah, parenting isn’t always sunshine and happiness. There’s times where it’s so hard and you just want to make it through the next moment. We’ve all been there. This time will pass. You won’t miss every moment, so don’t feel bad.

For me, I’m always happy when I get to the next stage. I miss parts in the previous ones, but it shows that your child is learning and growing. Believe me, them getting older and growing is the greatest gift you can ever imagine.

Always remember, you’re doing your best.

The last piece of advice I have to offer is something I still remind myself of.

You. Are. Doing. Your. Best.

No matter what you have to do to parent your child, you’re getting it done. It doesn’t matter if it’s different from your family’s way of doing things or anyone on the internet. Whatever works for you is what’s best.

I know this parenting thing is really hard, at every stage. Your child choose you for a reason. The choices you make for your family are all done out of love. That’s the best you can do.

Hopefully this list has calmed your heart. Being a parent is a wild ride.

Jensen and Mila have taught me so much about myself and life. I can’t imagine not being their mom.

If you have other advice for new moms and dads, leave it in the comments below.

Goodbye Kisses.

One of the toughest things I face as a single mom is wondering if Mila has enough love.

It’s hard being away from her during the days, but I have to be to give her the life she deserves. When we’re together, we play, read stories, and create. I tell her I love her every chance I get and she does the same.

We’re happy in our own little world.

But, it’s the days I have to go away. I question if she forgets about all our fun. There are some times I wonder if the love I instill in her stays. Or if she’s just made at me when I’m gone.

A few nights ago, I realized I shouldn’t put any thought into those fears.

I picked her up one afternoon after school. She sat in the car as my mom told her goodbye. As usual, she asked for a hundred goodbye hugs and kisses. Then kept saying bye. As my mom walked away, then started the goodbye kisses.

She blew them and for awhile they were reciprocated. Mom had to go back inside, but Mila did something that made me smile.

As the door shut and we backed out of the driveway, I saw her continue blowing goodbye kisses.

Between each kiss, she yelled, “goodbye! I love you!.”

She didn’t stop when we backed out. Or when we went down the street. Or even parked in our driveway. Outside our door, she kept saying goodbye and how much she loved her Gigi.

That’s when I realized, Mila has all the love in the world. She knows what love feels like and how to feel it towards others.

All those worries about if I’m doing good enough ease.

The next morning, when it’s hard to go away again. I see her goodbye kisses in action. It made leaving a little easier.

Because, I know those goodbye kisses never end and that love travels where ever we go.

Single Mom Probs: Part One

Single mom problems…

When a quick trip to run some errands turn into making sure all their favorite toys have to go with us. Then then insisting said toys cannot stay in the car by themselves.

Oh, the horror of that possibility.

Once you’re inside of said errand spot, holding the toys becomes quite boring. They start to play on the floor.

As it’s time to leave, they forget one on the ground. But there’s no man left behind here.

You’re five minute trip, easily becomes thirty minutes. They only want to take one toy inside, so you’re arms are fuller than before.

But nothing beats that smile.

Full of You.

This morning was full of you.

It was so early, that I felt like I was the only person awake in the whole entire world. I didn’t feel alone though. You were with me. I felt your presence all around my body and inside my mind.

Some days I miss you more than any thing else. Those days, my grief runs deeply. It’s hard to have your child, that you love so much, be gone for so long. Other days your energy shines so bright. It’s like you’re not physically here with us, but your love and light is. Whether it’s while Mila plays, when we light your candle, or mornings like these, you’re always with us.

I drank hot tea from your ‘J’ cup. It warmed me and helped the calmness you bring spread throughout.

As I sit here, that warmth feels like you’re hugging me.

Even almost five years into this grief journey, I ache for everything I missed with you: your deep breathing while you slept, the look in your eyes when you saw me, and the sound of your voice. That’s the funny thing about grief. It doesn’t matter how far you’re out, it’s always right there.

In the calmness of the world and in myself, I can imagine all the things I wish I knew of you. It’s not the real thing, but it’s all we have.

I love you and miss you. I’m so thankful for this morning, full of you.

Un-talked About Nights.

This is the side of motherhood that doesn’t get talked about a lot.

The times where it’s 2am and there’s been an accident. Instead of getting mad at your child who’s already upset, you choose to do the harder thing.

You strip the bed, get it cleaned up, and then take every clean blanket to the living room.

They’re still crying. It’s disappointing and when you’re almost three, you have big emotions. A single accident feels world shattering, but it’s not.

It’s the decision to sleep in another bed or, in our case, make a huge, blanket sleep space in the middle of the floor. You tell them it’s much more fun to have a sleepover in the living room anyways.

Then, you calm them and help get them back to sleep.

No. It’s not the night you wanted. I mean, who wants to sleep on the floor? But just because it was a physically messy accident, doesn’t mean it needs to be emotionally messy too.

Parenting is hard. Parenting with lack of sleep is even harder.

These nights are not in the greatest hits moments. Yet, something tells me these un-talked about nights have lasting effects.

The Spooky Strikes Back.

If you’ve been following my blog for a while and can remember clear back to the summer of 2019, my house had a… spooky occurrences.

Yes, the blessing helped tremendously for a while. The unexplainable things in my house calmed down, but I still have to burn sage weekly. If I don’t, the house starts to feel strange again.

I know not everyone’s a believer, it’s just terrifying when it happens to you.

So, I won’t get into any of the recent happenings, but this week, Mila said something that stopped me in my tracks. Instantly, I called my mom (yep, still that person), and asked if I was hearing Mila correctly.

Turns out… I was.

I don’t know who Jo-Jo is and never want to either. Anyone that lives in the basement is NOT a friend of mine.

After I stopped recording this, Mila informed me that Jo-Jo is a baby, plays with her, and goes with her places. She also danced with him and she gives him bottles. It’s quite creepy. I don’t know a Jo-Jo, but I definitely need to research more.

Let’s just say, I’ll be sage-ing my house everyday for a long time.

PSA: You’re Still a Good Mom If…

In a perfect, social media world, beautiful dinners are made every night and the house is always clean.

As much as I’d love for all of that to magically happen, I live in reality. Some nights the floors go unswept and quick meals look like this.

Guess what… I’m still a good mom and had a happy kid. We even snacked on carrots after too.

Whatever you need to do to get through the day, night, or minute, do it. Sometimes that means pizza bagels for dinner and not doing the dishes after.

You’re still a good mom if you don’t make Pinterest worthy meals every night or have a perfectly cleaned house. In your kids eyes, you’re always the best.

Just keep doing you.

Documenting Gratitude in 2021.

Earlier this week, I talked about how I failed to even remember 2020’s word of the year. I also didn’t keep up with something that was important to me.

I’m sure you’ve seen it on some type of social media, but it’s a gratitude jar. Every day or week, you write down something that made you feel grateful. Last year, I tried to do every day and I succeed until March.

This year, I’m challenging myself to one every week. Plus, Mila is going to be accountable to tell me what made her smile this week.

I want Mila to know she’s important and that she has a big space in our home. Even though she told me chocolate milk was the best part of last week… which is also funny if you read yesterday’s post.

Anyways, every Sunday, Mila and I are going to have a little chat about our week. Whatever we’re thankful for, I’ll write it down. Then, I’ll keep it locked up tight in our jar.

By the end of the year, there will be 52 or more pieces of gratitude on paper.

Hopefully, this will make the both of us smile. If 2021 is relatable to 2020, we’ll need the moments of gratitude next New Year’s Eve.

Have you thought about ways to document this next year? I’m also keeping a journal too.

Here’s to 2021

Did anyone else think 2020 was going to last forever or was it just me?

To be completely honest, 2020 wasn’t all that awful in our household. There were so many victories that are worth celebrating. I’m so close to reaching my goals and last year was a big step towards those.

Of course, there were troubles. Besides the obvious ones everyone went through, my personal issues were hard to get through. I’m glad I did and I know with them in the past, the future is so bright for my family. Will there be future hiccups? Of course, but I’m doing the very best I can to prepare.

Anyway, I thought I’d check in today to again wish everyone a happy new year and I hope this first week back from post-holiday madness is going smoothly.

Last year, I tried to come up with a word for the year. It failed miserably because I can’t even remember the word. For 2021, I wanted to come up with a word I could really get behind and stick with. Something that would be relevant to all my life’s situations and wouldn’t be too out of grasp.

My word of 2021 is…

Heal.

I know. It’s simple. But with the chaos of the last five years of my life, it’s the only word that felt right. In every aspect of my life, i could use a little healing. That’s why it’s my word for 2021.

Honestly, I have no idea what this year holds; besides healing and growing. I’m hoping the world will calm down a little so we can go to the beach. It holds my last semester of college (for now) and maybe a new job at the beginning of the next school year. For writing, I hope I can get back to feeling comfortable about sharing certain things. Maybe that will be a post for the near future.

Jensen will turn five. Yeah, year five feels really big, but here we are. It’s sort of scary knowing he’s been gone for half a decade. This grief journey has been… so many things. I’d like to explore that more this year since I’ve lacked the ability to do it the last two years.

Mila will be three and will most likely start preschool in the fall. I know we’ll continue doing all our activities and I’d like to write a little ahead of time to help others who follow along with our activities.

And me… I’ll be healing and trying to figure out this part of the journey.

Do you choose a word for the year? If so, let me know what yours is in the comments.