DIY Fairy-Tale Garden

April shower bring May flowers. To celebrate just that, we’re welcoming May with our very own DIY Fairy-Tale Garden.

Mila is obsessed with fairy gardens. My parent’s neighbor has the little fairy figurines in their garden and Mila goes to play with them every day. I figured she should have one of her very own since she likes them so much.

Since we love our fairytales, I thought a little spin on the idea would be fun for Mila’s imagination.

One day after work, we went to our local Lowe’s and picked out flowers that made her smile. She loves pink and purple so all the flowers are just that. I also encouraged her to pick some non-flowering plants as well.

I also purchased filling snd too soil at Lowes’s. At our dollar store, Mila picked out a princess castle to place in her fairytale garden.

Then we started digging.

I most definitely should have taken before pictures, but we were too excited to start.

We picked the tree in our backyard to make the fairytale garden. It has a few hosta and wildflowers already there, so we left them. We did clean up the area by taken out the weeds.

The area also needed built up. We used a ton of fill dirt and top soil so our plants and flowers could thrive.

One word of advice for all toddler parents is to buy your toddler their own little shovel. Mila had so much fun digging holes and helping along the way.

She also found rocks to lead up the the castle. We’re going to try and get more to put around the circle too.

We brought out plastic toys that won’t be impacted by the weather out. Mila was also gifted a gnome set to place here too. It’s going to be a mixture of all things magical.

Just like a fairytale.

I’m so excited to see how the garden and Mila’s imagination grows this summer. We are constantly outside, so I know this little area will be well loved. She’s even already showed it off to her friend who lives close.

With a little hard work, there will be a summer full of fun.

Some key items we needed to make our fairytale garden were these:

I hope that if you want an outdoor place space like this, you’re able to make one. It could have easily been made into a big pot that could be brought inside for winter too!

If you end up making a fairy or fairy-take garden, I’d love to see or hear about it!

Do you have any gardening memories that you did with a parent, grandparent, or any other important individual in your life?

Before you go, check out how these moms incorporated fairytales in their children’s play:

Toddler DIY: Painted Flower Pots

Don’t scramble this Mother’s Day to come up with gift. Try these DIY painted flower pots to give to your loved ones.

Not only are they easy to make, it’s adorable watching your child pick out the plants for it.

Plants are great gifts to give because they keep growing! It’s extra special to get a personalized pot as well. The combo makes a beautiful present and you’ll toddler will be proud to gift it.

Here’s everything you’ll need:

Most of these items, you probably have at your house. If you don’t have any extra pots laying around, terracotta pots are inexpensive and can be found at most stores. Another option is to use plastic ones too.

To personalize the pots, I added stickers to it before we painted. This is completely up to you!

Then it was time to set up.

I laid a sheet of parchment paper down on my island. Just so there wasn’t paint everywhere like her Earth Day painting.

Next, I had her let me know what color paint she wanted to do. Another great way to practice her color recognition, which she has nailed! But, it’s always fun listening about her favorite color. I ended up putting all the colors on a plate.

After everything was set up, I instructed her to paint all over the pots.

It took her a little bit to get both of them done.

All of the colors got mixed together too. It made a beautiful green color, but it’s a good word of caution if you don’t want all the colors together.

We let the pots dry and took a nap. I should’ve tried to pull the stickers off before we fell asleep though!

When I removed them, the paint stuck. Of course.

To fix this, I ended up just using permanent markers to fix it. This happens with DIYs. Nothing will ever turn out perfect, but I just love them.

After everything’s dried and the way you’d like it, it’s time to pick the plant or flowers.

I have a ton of plants that need ‘real pots,’ not just nursery pots. Yes, yes. I’m most definitely a crazy plant lady at this point!

Honestly though, I think these turned out so cute. I love how mine turned into a rainbow, marble piece and my mom’s is a nice blue and green swirl. They’re both made with so much love.

You and your toddler can easily make these pots in an afternoon. They’ll make anyone smile to receive!

Let me know what you think about these pots in the comments. If you DIY them, tag me on Instagram: @greyskies.rainbowhighs. I can’t wait to see your and your toddler’s creativity.

Before you go, check out what these other moms are doing for Mother’s Day this year…

5 Reasons We Love the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo

Ohio is full of things to do. One of our favorite places to go are the many zoos our state has to offer. This time, we visited the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo!

To celebrate Jensen’s fifth birthday, I thought it’d be a fun idea to go. Mila is really into animals right now and I love seeing them as well. We found out that April is a perfect time to go, even though we had a sprinkle of rain.

This zoo is HUGE. We didn’t even get to go to two big attractions because there was so much to go through. There’s always next time though.

One tip for when you explore this zoo is to bring your walking shoes! There’s a lot of walking to get to the different attractions. When you do check out these five things we loved about the Cleveland Metroparks zoo.

The Interaction

One of the best parts of this zoo is all the interactions toddlers through adults can utilize.

The zoo key program allows visitors to receive so much information. All you have to do is purchase them and go to the front of different exhibits to find out all about the animals. Mila will love this even more when she’s older.

Her favorite interaction was the animal statues. I think she sat on every single one she could. It was a way for her to get an up close view of the actual animals she just seen. She was very observant and pointed out all of their features. Every parent was respectful of this and wiped down the statues afterwards. I really do think these interactions let Mila explore and understand more.

Hopefully by the next time we visit this zoo, all the playground and other explorative areas will be open. All of these areas are my favorite part of the zoo, but unfortunately they’re closed. The play area in the Australia section is huge and I’m sure Mila would have loved it.

There’s also opportunities to feed different animals and other interactive parts that we didn’t get to do because I thought Mila was a little too young.

The Animals

I’m unsure if it was the time of the year or the animals were just in a really good mood, but they were all out to impress.

Every attraction we went to we could see the animals. Usually in the summer they’re trying to cool off. Since it was a chilly April day, they all wanted to walk around and play. It was amazing to see some of the animals we normally don’t get to see.

Two of my favorites were the big cats and the red pandas.

There are a few different species of big cats, but I was obsessed with the tiger and snow leopard. The tiger was just walking around and kept going right in front of us. He was absolutely beautiful. I don’t think I’ve ever seen one that close up and moving around. The snow leopard, on the other hand, just made me laugh. He was sleepy and hanging out on a little perch just watching. I came to the conclusion that’s how I would be if I was a big cat too.

Then, the red pandas were out to play. It was like they were playing tag. It was adorable and I think we spent way too much time just watching and giggling at them. Again, this isn’t an animal we get to see often, so it was a different experience.

Mila loved the tundra exhibit, especially the wolves. She also enjoyed seeing the African animals, such as the elephants, giraffes, and the lions. They’re all animals she’s very familiar with and she was amazed that she could actually see them in person. The only animals that scared her were the kangaroos. She said they looked like big rats!

The Flamingos

No matter how much we loved all the other animals, the flamingos hold a special place in Mila’s heart. They were the last animals we saw and she asked about them the entire time.

Before we left, we stood for at least twenty minutes just watching them.

We talked about why they were pink and how their ‘knees’ are actually their ankles. She asked why they were squawking at each other too. Mostly, she kept saying she wanted to bet them and let them know they were being ‘good boys.’

Of course we didn’t let her in the enclosure, but she did get her flamingo fix in for the day!

The Carrousel

As mentioned before, there was a little rain that happened. Thankfully, we were right by the carrousel.

Mila has been on one before, but not since she’s been able to remember. While we were in line, she was determined to ride the shark, but a little boy got to it first. After much deliberation, she finally chose the donkey to ride.

She really had a blast. We were able to escape the sprinkle and enjoy a fun ride. It was also great seeing her be independent and wanting to ride by herself.

After the ride was over, she wanted to go back on again and again. It actually lasted for quite awhile which was nice! The carrousel only costed three dollars per adult, which was definitely worth the cost!

The Dippin’ Dots

I mean, this is totally self explanatory.

Believe me, I know Dippin’ Dots are available at most zoos throughout the country. Yet, they’re just extra special when you’re there.

We absolutely loved this visit to the zoo and will definitely be headed back in the near future. Next time we go, we want to make sure to visit “The Rainforest” and the primate area since we missed them this visit.

It truly was a great way to celebrate Jensen’s day!

A big thank you to the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo for having a great place for families to go and learn about animals we normally would never see. It’s always nice to see animals happy and well taken care of! All the zoo employees that we encountered were nice and helpful too!

Have you ever been to the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo? Or where is your favorite zoo that Mila and I can visit in the future? Ohio and beyond!

Jensen is FIVE.

I always need a few days after Jensen’s birthday to collect all my thoughts.

Five feels really big. He should be half a decade old. That realization is hard to wrap my mind around. Then I remember, I have to live the rest of my life without him. It’s a mix of seeing Mila grow older and knowing five holds so much that really brought me to a dark space this year.

Not that every year isn’t hard because having your child die really sucks.

Anyways, Jensen’s actual birthday was everything it needed to be. We still celebrate his birthday and I probably always will.

This year, I wanted to do an activity a five-year-old would love to do. So, we went to the zoo.

I want to go over how much we loved the Cleveland Zoo in a future post, but it was a huge part of Jensen’s fifth birthday. It would be silly not to share the highlights of the day.

My favorite part of going to the zoo was that all the animals were out. Since it was a cooler day, they were playing and being active. The big cats were all out and not napping. Even the bears were out of their caves and showing off.

Honestly, I thought of Jensen’s birthday eve book. We read On the Night You Were Born by Nancy Tillman. In the book, the animals were all dancing the night the baby was born. It felt like the animals were out at the zoo for Jensen. I know that sounds silly, but those little connections are my only ones to him.

As with anything during child loss, I also wondered what animal Jensen would like seeing the most at the zoo. At five, he’d definitely have a favorite. Part of me felt like he’d have liked the red pandas the most. I wonder if he’d want his face painted too. Just those little things that constantly pop up.

I’ve finally realized it’s okay to have those sad moments in a happy day. Grief and happiness coexist in the strangest way, especially on their birthdays.

Of course we had dippin’ dots at the zoo!

After the zoo, we went out to eat.

There were a few birthdays that got celebrated and it was hard because Jensen didn’t get that. Mila is at an age where she wants to sing along with everyone else’s birthday celebrations when we go out. Yet, we didn’t get one for her brother at the restaurant.

I often wonder what Mila thinks of those types of things. It’s just our life, but it’s just something I think about.

When we got home, we had family over to celebrate Jensen and his birthday. There was ice cream cake, singing, and bubbles. Everyone said his name and that will always be the greatest gift of all.

Just knowing Jensen is remembered and loved brings me such happiness.

Throughout his birthday, I received so many birthday messages and love. I can’t thank everyone enough for that. The love that surrounds him and his memory is so beautiful.

I don’t know what this year of grief looks like. Whenever I try to plan something, it feels like it gets a little derailed.

One thing I want to do in honor of Jensen this year is a backpack drive to donate to a local school. Since he’d be a kindergartner this year, I feel like that would be a beautiful way to honor him. The closer we get to the summer, the more details and information I’ll have on this.

What I do know is that as we dive into year five, he is still so loved and missed.

I think about my little boy every single day. He is the reason I keep going forward and shapes the way I parent Mila. Jensen is a part of our lives in all ways. Even though he isn’t here with us doesn’t mean he isn’t in our hearts.

No matter how many years pass, I’m so proud to be his mom.

April is National Poetry Month…

…and a bunch more too.

April is not an easy month for me and this year feels extra difficult too. On top of my intense grief with Jensen’s birthday only four days away, I’m drowning in my last semester of school, work, and Mila’s birthday too. It’s a dangerous combination. Breakdown probably imploding soon.

Through it all, I’m trying to remain positive, even when it feels really hard.

This morning, I didn’t know if I was going to blog today. Instead, I took the morning easy and painted with Mila. Since it’s National Poetry Month, I thought it’d be fun to write a poem too.

My plan is to write a poem a day, whether I share it or not. It challenges me to think inward and be expressive. In a month where I don’t have a ton of time to self reflect or do a lot of self care, this will be my time.

For the first one, I thought it’d be poetic to write one about April.


April.
you hold so much of my heart,
i don’t know where to start.
you’ve brought me life and death,
promise you won’t take my breath.
your sun shines so hot,
my son comes through forget-me-nots.
you have flowers grow all around,
while my daughter runs all around.
you always tempt me to love you,
and one day that’ll be true.

It may not be the best poem around, but I think it perfectly describes this month for me.

Here’s what’s coming up for the rest of the month. Again, it’s going to be really busy here, but I’ll be around… promise.

  • April 4 – Easter & Family Pictures
  • April 5 – Jensen turns FIVE!
  • Mila’s Birthday Party
  • April 14 – Mila turns THREE!
  • April 22 – Earth Day
  • April 27 – Last day of this semester.

When it’s listed out like that, it doesn’t seem like so much. Yet, behind every single one of those is a lot of emotions and time. So, I’ll be just a bit busy.

Let me know if I should share my daily poems. Maybe I’ll paint too!

What Happened to Laundry Weekend?

It was supposed to be a laundry weekend.

Moms know what this means. We had a long weekend so all the clothes in the house were to be folded. Extra cleaning was to be done too. The chore list doesn’t just do itself. It was all supposed to be neat and tidy for the week ahead.

Even though it was supposed to happen, it didn’t.

All the clothes are still waiting to be folded. The floors are swept and the house is somewhat tidy, but not to the level it could have been.

Instead, I focused on the hardest job: being a mom.

Mila and I played outside most of time. We went to get dinner at a food truck and made new friends. When the weather was it’s nicest, we went on a hike. She made me wear silly headbands, pretending to be a pirate. I played along with all that she asked. At night, we cuddled and watched movies. I listened when she needed to be heard. She showed me her new superhero power. We did what we needed to as a family.

Even though there’s a to do list full of chores, it didn’t seem so important in the moment.

At this time next month four turns to five and two turns to three. Time is continuing on, even when I want to hit pause.

I’ll always think about the should be’s, the moments I missed, and the extra laundry too. The Jensen-size-hole in my heart is just aching a little more. It reminds me of the choices I make on weekends like these.

He reminds me of moments and why I soak them up with her. Things around the house will stay, but she’ll continue growing. I don’t want to miss any more.

So, if you ask how my laundry weekend went just know…

All the laundry that was supposed to be folded will always be there. These moments won’t.

California Avocado Chicken Recipe

This isn’t your average chicken recipe. So, if that’s what you’re looking for get off the page now.

Just kidding, all are welcome! But, this recipe is so good and perfect for spring and summer. It’s light and full of flavor. There may be a few steps, but the outcome is totally worth it.

This recipe is a touch more complex than other recipes I share. Mostly because there’s one prep step that I normally don’t have time to do. But, it only takes thirty minutes, which is no time when you’re playing outside.

I’m going to break the ingredients down into the two steps. Here’s what you’ll need:

Marinade:

  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 3/4 cup of balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup of honey
  • 3 cloves of minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons of Italian seasoning
  • Salt and pepper

Topping:

  • 2 avocados
  • 3 Roma tomatoes
  • Salt and pepper
  • Mozzarella cheese (optional)

The first thing you should do is make the marinade. Combine the balsamic vinegar, honest, garlic, olive oil, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper together.

Once it’s mixed up, put the chicken breasts in the marinade and put in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

While the marinade is working it’s magic, start making the topping.

Dice the avocados and tomatoes. Then add them to a bowl and top with salt and pepper. I also added some Italian seasoning too!

After this, heat your grill or griddle.

Pull out your marinated chicken and get to cooking. Usually, it only takes 5-7 minutes per side to cook chicken. When they’re done, melt mozzarella cheese over it then plant.

Before serving, add the avocado and tomato topping. I also drizzled more balsamic vinegar over if too.

The chicken in this recipe tastes so good; thanks to the marinade!

There were no leftovers since Mila and I both loved it. I’m so glad she loves these flavors. Actually, I had to cut another avocado while waiting for the chicken. She just eats it by the bowl.

Anyways, I think this recipe will be a great addition to your spring and summer rotation.

If you try it out, let me know in the comments!

Toddler Activity: Rainbow Bubble Wrap Painting

In our house, rainbows hold a special meaning.

Mila is my rainbow baby and any time we can incorporate them in our home, we do. So, it felt pretty fitting to make our big canvas painting a rainbow this month.

We’ve done smaller rainbow crafts, but this big painting may be my new favorite.

All the supplies you’ll need are:

  • Paint (the colors of the rainbow)
  • Bubble wrap
  • Canvas

Since Mila was busy with the nice weather, I was able to prep this easily. When she did notice we were painting, she ran over.

We talked about all the different colors. She’s finally able to say ‘orange’ and let me know that her favorite color of all of them was purple.

All I did was put paint in rainbow arches in the correct order.

Then, I helped Mila put the bubble wrap over top of it. When it was there, she pushed on all the paint to spread it out.

It was fun watching her figure out how it all worked. She thought it was pretty cool to see how the paint mixed together and everything. The best part was pulling off the bubble wrap.

We all know my love for using random things to paint, this turned out so different than I expected. It’s textured, but not in bubble wrap’s usual way.

Mila was so proud of her latest artwork. It’s hanging up now, even though I may add a quote above the red arch.

No matter what, this artwork is easy to do with kids of all ages. It can be modified for babies by putting a more secure wrap on the canvas. For older kids, they can pour the paint on too.

I hope that you and your toddler love this activity! If you end up doing it, let me know in the comments.

10 Thoughts of a Toddler Dance Mom.

Toddler classes and sports can be a little… different than older kids. You never know what a toddler is going to do or say.

For us, dance class has been amazing. Mila loves the girls that are there, dancing, and following around her dance instructor the entire time. On the mom side of things, it’s a little more stressful, but full of proud moments too.

Every dance evening is full of thoughts, even though class is only a half hour long. Here are some of mine for you to laugh with.

What to do with her hair this week?

Every single week is a constant battle of doing something fun with her hair, but making sure it stays up. It’s even harder when your toddler doesn’t like their hair touched. Yet, somehow it ends up decently cute.

Where are her dance shoes?

Quiet panic sets, until you realize you just misplaced it in the car. Oh well.

Why are dance shoes so hard to put on?

Um, what shoe goes on which foot? Maybe she needs a bigger size… nope. Just on the wrong feet.

Please, let her be nice…

Thank goodness for socialization and her playing with other kids her age. Oops. No! Don’t push while you guys are racing.

Her teachers are ready. It’s go time.

She is so cute when she listens and dance.

Aww, she instantly found her sticker and is ready to go. Are all kids this cute when they listen?

Run and hide!

Time for a half hour of alone time. Let’s see if I can escape before she sees me leave.

Is she doing okay? Does she miss me?

Being away and not knowing is hard. I wonder if she’s listening and dancing her heart out. What if she’s looking for me and I’m not there?

Is the music really loud or am I just getting old… it’s definitely the music.

Time to watch all her dance efforts.

Her little face pops through the door. It’s time to watch all her hard work.

Just joy…

The smile on her face and all the little dancers face makes every up and down of the evening worth it.

There’s just joy all around.

Toddler Activity: Thankful for You Lollipop Flowers

It’s National Random Act of Kindness Day! Although we try to do as many acts of kindness everyday, we wanted to share this today.

Mila loves her ‘kids’ and ‘girls.’ These kids consist of all her cousins and her girls are from dance class. She loves the time she spends with them.

When I asked who she wanted to share kindness with, it’s no wonder why she chose them.

We talked about why it’s nice and important to do nice things for other people. There was a mini brainstorming session about what we could do. Valentine’s Day definitely helped the matter!

Mila suggested flowers, so we compromised.

All you need to do to create these lollipop flowers are paper, scissors, and suckers! I used taped to secure the flowers too.

For creating the flowers, I just drew ones on the back of the paper and cut it out. To get the lollipop stick through, I pressed a hole in the middle with the scissors.

On the underneath of the flowers, I put, ‘I ♥ You! -Mila.’ Short and sweet!

We’ll be giving them out as soon as she sees her kids and girls. She loved how they turned out and wanted to hold them like a bouquet.

If we did a large scale random acts of kindness, I’d definitely add a quote to the flowers. These would also be adorable for a birthday party or class treat.

We’re so happy and excited to spread a little extra kindness in the world. This year, we hope we can do more random acts and bring joy to those who are least expecting it.

Let me know what you think about this kindness project in the comments below.