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!

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.

A Pandemic Pause: Meatless Mondays

COVID-19 has me stressed out. When I wake up, I’m looking to see if there are any updated, then I feel like I’m waiting for two o’clock to see what Governor DeWine has to say, and afterwards I’m reading articles about it all. While taking a minute to myself today, I realized I HAVE to get away from continuously checking up on what’s going on and focus my attention on other productive things.

As any millennial would do, I’m going to share what’s going on by writing what Mila and I are doing to get through this pandemic. So, thanks for reading along, as always…

In January, I started really researching ways to become eco friendly. I’ve wanted to write about some changes I’ve made since the beginning of the year and now may be the time where I finally get to it. Anyways, one change I kept reading about was having a ‘meatless’ day once a week. Many people do “Meatless Mondays” and that’s what I’ve tried to do too.There’s a lot of information about why going meatless one day a week helps the environment. I could probably list and talk about each of them, but here’s a website that’ll do it for me.

I am not vegan or a vegetarian, so this was a new venture for me. When I decided to go for it, I went to Pinterest for recipes and different ideas.

One really jumped out at me because it looked so good AND I knew Mila would try it all together, but definitely eat the ingredients separately. I had everything in my house, besides goat cheese (which isn’t meatless, I know), but I knew where to get it. The recipe is a smashed chickpea and goat cheese wrap found at Parsnips and Pastries.

A few things I tweaked with the recipe was:

  • I didn’t use roasted peppers, just fresh.
  • No mircogreens or sprouts. Spinach!
  • No basil.
  • I used different spices as well that I use with almost everything.

Mila ate so many olives, plain chickpeas, and the goat cheese. I just let her eat whatever she wanted and didn’t push the wrap on her. She did like the filling, but preferred to pick and eat like usual. I REALLY loved this recipe and how it turned out. It’s made me excited to try more vegetarian and vegan meals.

I actually made this last week, but am going to try a different recipe tonight. I’m out of avocados right now and am like not wanting to go back to the store, so I’m going to be creative in what I make for tonight. Maybe this with some tweaks.

A little mom/parent tip for those with upcoming toddlers… just know however healthy and tasty of a meal you make, your toddler will probably prefer to something like this instead.

If you have ANY suggestions or meatless recipes you’d like to share with me, I’d love to try them out. Eventually, I’d like to do Meatless Mondays with one meal completely vegan. I’m trying to take stepping stones in doing a vegan day. The three things that are getting me are eggs, cheese, and milk. MIla and I consume all of them everyday. We’ll try to do better, but give us time.

While writing this, I can definitely see why bloggers have a hard time just sharing their recipes. Food invokes wanting to share more. I think during this time of crisis that our world is going through, it’s nice to connect with each other and see how we’re all getting through.

I have some other things I’d like to share with you guys this week! Especially a craft/cause Mila and I are going to do this week. Another thing I’d like to know or get tips on is not being afraid to go to the grocery store to get the essentials. I really just need some fresh fruit and veggies, so maybe I’ll start searching with what I can do with my canned items.

To conclude this ever long pandemic pause, I hope you all are feeling well and are making space for yourself through all of it.

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.

Family Portrait – Capture Your Grief

This is my family: Mila, Jensen, and I.

Our family portraits will never look ‘normal,’ but they’re perfect to me. They’re still full of love and an actual representation of who we are as a family.

Story time.

I was being brave today. This whole month I’ve felt exhausted. In the middle of potty training Max AND Mila (yes, I will post those adventures soon), doing school work, and trying to get back in the swing of subbing, plus everything else, I found myself neglecting what actually means a lot to me… Capture Your Grief. Every October I’ve done my best with it and this one, I just have been doing what I can do.

When I saw today’s prompt, I told myself I was 100% participating and going to get a picture of us. I picked out Mila and I’s outfit and Jensen’s bow. We grabbed our fall stuff and a big blanket to take outside. For like 15 minutes, I was in the backyard finding the perfect spot while rigging a stand up for my phone to sit…

I wanted it to be perfect with a fall background and all of us looking in the camera. Let’s just say… that didn’t happen.

Toddler’s aren’t the best at taking direction and Max wouldn’t sit still and Mila kept taking Jensen’s bow off and it seemed impossible to run back and get us all set up in time in a matter of ten seconds.

Did I feel a little defeated? Yes. But, I looked at Mila and held Jensen bear close to me and realized the most important people in my life didn’t care about a picture. They cared about me and know I’m doing my best. I let grief and stress and feeling like a bad mom get the best of me. It happens to all of us and that’s okay.

After my moment, I squeezed Jensen bear again and got Mila to come sit with us. I was going to get this picture no matter what and what’s wrong with a selfie?

This is our life. It’s three and a half years of grieving and a year and a half of parenting after loss. It’s one full of love and craziness. One that the only thing I’d change is having Jensen physically here with us.

I love our little family portrait today. My littles are in my arms and close to my heart. I’m smiling and everything is going to be just okay.

Kisses for Jensen.

Dinner Date at the Lake.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Toddler Bed.

I would love to say Mila has finally graduated from crib to toddler bed, but I’d be fibbing a little. Mila has never spent a night or nap in her crib. I know there will come a time where she sleeps in her new ‘big girl bed,’ but we haven’t gotten there yet.

One of the hardest things I had to do when I was pregnant with Mila was to put Jensen’s crib up in her room. It was always his. I remember picking it out for him and pairing it with orange and blue. His bedding fit perfectly with it too. So a little over a year and a half ago when I put the crib up with pinks and golds, it was hard. It was even harder seeing it up, wondering if a baby would ever make it to sleep there.

The answer to that was no. When she finally came, I couldn’t let her out of my sight. I didn’t listen to typical ‘safe sleep’ and we co-slept.

I did get to see her in it though. From the first pictures I took of her at home, to her learning how to stand, and eventually jumping every time she got in there. Jensen’s empty crib gave Mila a safe place to grow. Now it’s transformed into a toddler bed. A toddler. A stage I never thought I’d encounter after Jensen died and even those first months after Mila was born.

She really is a ‘totally amazing sister’ and an ever better daughter. Even when I had my moment of looking at his/her toddler bed, she flashed her infectious smile at me letting me know it was all going to be okay.

Jensen truly handpicked her for me. No one could ever tell me any different.

These moments of parenting after loss can really knock me down, I’m just glad I can be mom to both of them.

Weird Things My Toddler Does: Part One.

Little humans can be so strange. Mila is exploding the world around her and finding out everything she likes and dislikes. Since she’s been walking, she’s began this HUGE love for shoes. It’s one of her new words too. Every morning she wakes up, gets her Crocs, and either asks me to put them on for her or does it herself. Let me just say, knowing she can put her shoes on and is starting to dress herself makes me so proud. Such a good mom moment when she came to get me with her shoes on and on the right feet.

I let Mila wear her Crocs everywhere, but I didn’t realize how much she was obsessed with them.

A couple nights ago, I got her ready to take a shower with me and when I went to take off her shoes, she screamed. She ran away from me, only to come back to the bathroom and walked into the shower with her shoes on.

It’s so weird how much she loves these shoes and never wants to take them off. If I’d let her sleep in them, she probably would.

She loved showering with them cause she could make big splashes. I think it lets her feel more sturdy too, since the tile is so slick. Anyways, even though I think it’s so weird, I was just happy she let me clean them off since she won’t any other time. I’ll take my little victory.

I’m sure she’ll be doing something new and just as cute next week. For now, the Crocs are here to stay… in the shower, in bed, and everywhere else she goes.

Toddler Friendly Summer Bucket List – Bubbles

This world is but a canvas to our imagination.

Henry David Thoreau

In the thick of motherhood, I can get caught up with trying to carry the world on my shoulders. Between being a mom, writing papers for school, working, and trying to keep up with housework, I sometimes forget how the world must seem to Mila. She’s helped bring the color back in my life and smile at the little things, but I wish I could slow down.

We’ve been super busy the last few days. Mila’s routine is all out of whack and our sleep schedule is way off. Yesterday we were able to slow down a little bit. After a typical morning and midday walk, she took a long two hour nap. During that time, I was looking at pictures from last year and realized how fast everything’s going. She’s gotten so big in the last month and is saying so many words. Mila is all the things I dreamed about, but I want time to slow down… just a little bit.

After waking up, she pointed to the door and wanted to go outside. She played with the neighbor kids until it started storming. We had dinner and instead of just rushing our nighttime routine, I just wanted more of her.

I showed her bubbles last week, but didn’t have the chance to really play with them. They’ve been on my counter and she points to them while I make breakfast in the mornings. When I showed them to her last night and told her we were going outside, she was so excited.

When making this bucket list, I didn’t really realize how each item would make me feel. They’re all different experiences that she’s briefly or never encountered. Although we’re only on the second one, I love being able to introduce her to the world around us.

I loved watching her try to blow bubbles out of the wand. Spoiler alert: she got more in her mouth and all over her body than actually making bubbles. Then with every bubble I blew, she loved chasing them. I wonder what her thoughts were with them. It really brought me back to being a kid again with all the wonder and imagination that’s little ones have.

One day she’ll think blowing bubbles and hanging out with me is lame. She won’t be as surprised or intrigued in these little wonders. They grow up so fast and the world doesn’t let them stay young for long.

I hope that day doesn’t come for years and years, but for now, I’m going to try and slow down with her. I want to be amazed by the bubbles in the world and slow down time for us both. When that day eventually comes, I hope she remembers these type of memories we created because I know I’ll never forget them.

Two out of many experiences are checked off our bucket list. If you created a summer bucket list, which items have you checked off?