Any parent knows that smell. You don’t even know what it means until it’s truly gone. I remember everyone telling me she smelled so good and I’d think, ‘obviously, I bathe her.’ Then when it went away, I knew what they were talking about.
And today I got it back.
Somehow the smell fought through her hands and face covered with Cookie Crisp cereal. It overpowered the candles burning and the flowers on our dining room table. I don’t know how it pierced through the after smells of lunch, but there it was.
Maybe it was because she napped on me on the couch like she did when she was itty bitty. Maybe it’s because you never notice the last time you’ll experience something, but I know this moment was it.
This is the last time my Mila will ever smell like a little baby. It was only for a few moments, but it’s all I needed.
It’s a bittersweet symphony of being happy she’s growing, thriving even, and a sweeping melancholy for knowing she’ll never be this little again.
So for the rest of the day, I’m just going to keep her close. We’re living today in a mix of crazy toddlerhood and sleepy infancy. It’s not going to be long until it’s full out toddlerhood and into independent childhood. I know I say this a lot… but I’m really going to miss these moments.
This week has went so quick, but has felt like a lifetime with all the things that have happened. Since Mila kicked me off our new toy, I’m reflecting on all the pictures we took this week. During this time we can all use a little happiness, so I just wanted to share ten moments that have made me the happiest.
I’m unsure if she knew my heart has needed them, but Mila has been so cuddly lately. She’ll come sit on my lap to watch movies and at night she wants me to lay right by her while she plays with my hair. It’s made my heart feel so full lately.
The Piñata Beatdown
All of Mila’s second birthday was the best, but watching her spear the piñata… I don’t think anything can top that. If you didn’t see her second birthday blog post, go back and watch it. I giggle the whole entire time. By the way, the piñata is still being used. It’s broken, but can still be hit multiple times.
Two has also brought all the singing. Throughout the day, she’ll just start singing as loud as she can and want me to join along. Her favorite song to sing is the intro to Frozen, the ‘nah nah nah nah.’ If you’ve watched the movie or have an obsessed toddler, you know. I’ve also been listening to “My Favorite Murder,” which is a podcast, and she sings the intro tune for it too. Maybe I should mute that when she can here, oops.
An Organized Fridge/Snack Drawers
This is the smallest things and no one really thinks about, but this week, I cleaned out my fridge. I feel like a new person. Now I know all the food I have in there and everything has a spot. Mila even has her little snack and juice corner that she has complete access to. It’s the little things that make you happy and life go a lot smoother.
I’m officially a plant mom. I check my little plants multiple times a day to see what else has sprouted. Anytime I see they need watered, I have my little squirt bottle and go to town. I didn’t know how seeing that sort of growth would make me smile so much. It gives Mila and I something to look forward to doing every day. A new part of our routine!
If quarantine has shown me anything, it’s my Pinterest addiction. I’ve found SO many new recipes to make now and try in the future. This weeks new recipe was this bacon cheeseburger grilled cheese meal. Oh my goodness, it was amazing. I’ve been craving grilled cheese lately, but this new recipe is just so good. I’ve also found new vegetarian recipes to make on Mondays and whenever I’m not feeling meat. It’s gotten to a point where I want to share all the new recipes I make, but that would be bombarding.
Mila’s Crafts and Independent Play
For the last few weeks, Mila’s started to play more independently. I’m unsure if it’s because I’ve put more thought into her activities throughout the day or she’s just getting older and her imagination is growing. We do an art craft or experiment almost everyday then talk about it, which she looks forward too. Then we read all the time, but she’s started ‘reading’ to her stuffed animals and Max. Another contributing factor is she got a lot of independent play toys for Easter and her birthday that have worked. I’ll try to write a post about toys she likes and maybe that could help another parent in deciding what to gift their two year old (or around this age) for whatever. One thing she’s gotten that has been used multiple times a day is her new easel. I love seeing her creative side.
This venture will definitely be a blog post… or two. I’m converting Jensen’s room into a playroom. It’s been hard, but I know it’ll be worth it in the end. Again, I’ll save this for a future post when the playroom is completely finished. ANYWAYS, I recently found a college student who makes this artwork from pictures. It’s like she takes a photo of you and sort of makes like pop art. There’s bright colors, the outline of the bodies, and the details in the clothes, but all other details are blurred. It’s so beautiful and I’m thankful I found her!
Almost Finishing Spring Classes
If you didn’t know, I’m so close to finishing all my classes to teach full time. After this semester is finished, I’ll only have four more classes and student teaching. Not a lot at all! But, I still have to finish the two classes I’m in right now. Anyways, the stress of everything going on right now has made it hard to work on my finals. I kept putting them off, but as of yesterday, I’m done writing papers for the spring semester. That’s something to celebrate!
The new toy I Mila kicked me off of is a trampoline. It was put up last night and it was a birthday gift for her from my mom and dad. Every time she saw a trampoline, she’d tell us she wanted to jump on the ‘lean.’ Mila is so active and even though she’s a little young to have one, she’s obsessed. While we were putting up the safety nap, she was on there jumping and all day today, she’s been jumping. I love that she’s so active and seeing her get more comfortable with her body makes me happy. It’s crazy because it seems like she excels at whatever she tries to do. No matter if it’s gymnastics or running or doing defensive basketball slides, she’s just naturally athletic. I can’t wait to make memories and watch her make them on her trampoline. This is only the beginning.
I hope all of you can find many moments you were grateful for this week. Just a reminder that we’re all doing our best.
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.
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.
Hello again today! I’m actually surprised I’ve had time to write twice today and get everything that I’ve gotten done, done.
SO the title of this post is a little deceiving. Mila didn’t actually make this completely by herself. I did the cutting, taping, and lettering. She did the painting part and then went to play. If she was a little older, like preschool age, I think she would have been able to do a lot more. The cutting is a little advanced, but I love perfectly imperfect crafts made by kids.
This was her first time experimenting with watercolor. She loves to paint, but usually uses craft paint. I was pretty impressed with how she did with the extra steps. She kept wanting to put her brush in the water, then paint, then back to the water. I ended up painting with her to show her how it went. For some reason, she was feeling the cool colors.
While she was off playing, I traced a bunny onto the paper. I used the same bunny outline as the one she did in her painting a few days ago. Then, I taped it on the back of Kraft paper and that onto random scrapbook paper too.
I took scrap white paper and taped it on the scrap paper to write on it as well.
This card turned out so cute. I actually am going to make myself one tonight, without the writing, to just have a keepsake for the year. If you find yourself missing family or have some free time tomorrow, this is a fun, easy craft that can be made adapted to any age.
It would be nice to send to relatives if you can’t see them tomorrow. Maybe I should’ve posted this earlier, but there’s always next year!
Again, wishing you all a happy and safe Easter Day.
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 Milamight 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.
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.
Toddlers and bedtimes, don’t really mix. They put it off and find any excuse they can to stay up just five more minutes. It can be so frustrating when they don’t sleep. For some of us, it’s our only alone time during the day. It’s the time we need to stay sane, especially being cooped up inside all day.
Last night, I let Mila stay up way past her bedtime. It wasn’t even the ‘let’s just go lay down’ stay up. She was cleaned up and in her pajamas. We put all her toys away and put the unfolded laundry she threw around today back in the basket. When all of that was done, I asked her if she was ready for bed, which she simply replied, “no.”
I just looked at her and she was so sure of her answer that I complied.
Did I need a break last night? Absolutely. We had a full day and I was mentally exhausted. I needed to continue writing my final papers and fold all the laundry and everything else that had to be cleaned up before the start of today. And just because it’s good for your mental health to have time for yourself.
But her big eyes just stared into mine as she waited for my response. I surprised her with my answer… I asked her what movie she wanted to watch. She finally decided on the live-action Lady and the Tramp, thank you Disney+. I turned it on, she climbed up on the couch, while I went to get snacks… pretzels and Nutella. Both of our favorite snacks, except she’d just prefer to take a big spoon and eat all the Nutella. Somehow she gets it all over her face no matter what; can’t say I blame her though.
Guess what happened next?
We enjoyed the movie, laughed together, and snuggled. I noticed her new words that she picked up and how she is starting to put together more complex sentences. She watched my expressions during certain parts of the movie and mimicked them. When there were sad parts, I saw how she reacted and during the funny parts, I think anyone would smile if they heard the sweet sound of her laugh. When the movie was over, I gave her a drink of water, told her to brush her teeth, and that it was time for bed.
There wasn’t any fight or pouting. She did what I asked of her and was asleep within five or ten minutes. When I went to get up, she didn’t even flinch.
Did I get as much time to myself as I wanted? No, but what I experienced was so much better.
It’s hard being a mom. Sometimes I can get so in the moment of feeling lost or overwhelmed that I don’t realize what the moment is actually about. I got to focus just on Mila and, I guess, the movie, but mainly on her. She got my undivided attention without a craft in front of us or at dinner or any agenda. It was just her and I in our magical moment. I get ahead of myself, a lot, and just being right there with nothing else on my mind was so relaxing. I’ll never get tonight back, but I’m thankful for the way I spent it.
Will her staying up later (on purpose) be an everything occurrence, probably not. She gets grumpy and so do I. Again, we need our time apart because we spend all day, everyday together… not that I’d have it any other way.
What I did learn was the laundry was still waiting for me and will never, ever end in my entire life. The mess was still there, but cleaned up quickly. My papers are still unwritten and if I’m being honest with myself, I probably would have found something else to do anyways.
The reality is there’s no rulebook on parenting. There’s no rulebook on being an adult either. We’re all just making it up as we go and do what’s best for us. There are days we do what we can to get by and others where we have to structure the entire day to get what we need done. One isn’t more right than the other, it’s just how it is.
Our other reality is time isn’t slowing down. Sometimes I look at Mila and can’t believe how grown up she’s gotten, seemingly overnight. I feel like I say this over and over again, but these days don’t last forever. Before I know it, I’m not going to have a toddler that loves to cuddle with me and just wants to see my reaction to Lady and the Tramp. She’s never going to be this little again and as much as I try to make memories. they’ll only be that so soon. No matter how she grows, I hope that radiant smile and booming laughter always stays with her. Deep down, I hope she always wants to share pretzels and Nutella with me while we have a movie night, I’ll keep on letting her pick the movie too.
I let my toddler stay up past her bedtime and it was one of the best nights.
Sometimes it’s a struggle to get Mila to sit down and eat a meal. She’s always been an on-the-go snacker, which definitely blurs lunch and snack times so much. We do sit down for breakfast and dinner everyday, but between then, it’s a free for all.
I worry as a mom… Is Mila getting what she needs? Is she eating enough? Is she eating too much? I’m constantly questioning her food intake and it’s honestly something I don’t want to stress about on top of everything else.
A couple weeks ago, I saw some Instagram posts and pins about grazing tables. It’s a way people can have a spread of different kinds of food and be able to eat at their own pace. I was excited to try it with Mila to see how she responded to it.
Top row: grapes, baby carrots, cheese, goldfish
Middle row: pretzel sticks, ham, pistachios, pear
Bottom row: M&M’s, Cheetos, turkey, green olives
I picked things Mila LOVES and asks for all the time, as well as, healthier options that I convince her to eat. Obviously, you can customize the food options to what best works with your child or even themed trays with the cheese and fruit being cut out in fun shapes. I’d love to do a rainbow board!
When Mila first saw her grazing board, she was definitely curious and picked at every item. The longer it was out, she ate her favorites first. I liked that I could pick at it too and since it wasn’t just on ‘her plate,’ she was happier to share.
I think this would be perfect for multiple kids and at all ages. It’s easy to put together and didn’t take long either!
If I get really creative, I’ll have to share if I make a fun board. But the grazing board is here to stay.
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!
Four years of loving, grieving, and learning who I am post-loss. It’s also four years of wondering what he would be like through every stage and how amazing of a big brother he’d be. I wonder about small details like his smile, the sound of his voice, and how deeply I could look into his eyes. Of course, I wonder about the big things too. Every day I think about him and what we’d all be doing. I don’t think that’ll ever change.
This birthday was a lot harder than the previous three. I was not mentally in a good place on Saturday and it carried into his day. Every year, I try to just search for the light. I allow myself to be sad because this is unfair. A child shouldn’t die and they shouldn’t miss birthdays or hugs or any of it.
Instead of being sad, I just got angry.
Maybe it’s a mix of what’s happening in the world and just the constant realization he’ll never be here… or maybe it’s because it’s just sad and hard. We’re not supposed to talk about how angry we get. Anger is such an ugly emotion. It can show the worst in a person and it’s hard to control. Usually, it’s reactive and not the deeper emotion, but it’s hard to let go once you have a hold on it. I’d go through bits of being angry and then weeping. Honestly, I just miss him and I think my brain didn’t know how to cope with grief this year. This birthday was a lot harder than the previous three. I was not mentally in a good place on Saturday and it carried into his day. Every year, I try to just search for the light. I allow myself to be sad because this is unfair. A child shouldn’t die and they shouldn’t miss birthdays or hugs or any of it.
I’m scared about going into year five. It’s insane to think that it’ll be half a decade since he’s been born. Before I started writing this post, I wrote my annual letter to Jensen. While writing, I kept remembering the last time I felt him; to the point where I felt like a residual movement in my body. I wondered when they would go away and realized I wanted to keep that feeling forever. It’s hard to think one day I’ll lose that and I don’t want to lose any more of him.
The day did lighten up a bit as it went on. We had cake and sang to Jensen. That made me so happy. When I get to hear and say his name out loud, my heart feels at peace.
So, a little fun fact. On Jensen’s first birthday, I baked him a cake from scratch. It was cute. All blue and two or three-tiered and I tried so so hard. Honestly, it wasn’t the best tasting cake, but I loved that I made it for him. For the last two years, I’ve bought a cake for his little party. They’ve been much tastier and better looking, to be honest.
Well, this year, with COVID, I decided to make another cake for Jensen. I could’ve ordered one or whatever, but I’m glad I didn’t because I needed the space to create instead of being mad. This time, I had the help with a box cake but spiced it up a little bit. I put chocolate chips in the batter and decided to use fresh strawberries in between the layers and on top of the cake. Well, I didn’t have my two circle cake pans and had to use a rectangle one. I planned to cut it in half to make two layers… it crumbled while I was getting it out of the pan. The horror right?
I made it work. It might not have been the prettiest cake… but it tasted AMAZING. I feel like I redeemed myself from year one and that Jensen would have approved of all the chocolate. Mila sure did.
I’m happy I could celebrate Jensen and his life.
Four whole years of loving this amazing little boy who never ceases to amaze me. I wish he was here every day and in so many ways he is. This year of grief is going to be different than in previous years. I don’t know this part of my journey. It feels like a new ‘step’ or part that I’ve not encountered before. Maybe shock has finally worn off? Or reality has cemented in? Grief is so hard to explain, especially with it being different for everyone.
I just know I’m trying my best to be a good mom to Jensen and Mila. I know how much I love them both and miss my little man. I’m ready to evolve and have Jensen guide me through this next stage.
He’s always right here with me.
Happy Fourth Birthday, Jensen! You are so very loved and missed. Thank you for always being the light in my life.