25 Self Care Activities for August.

Hello August!

I’m completely shocked August is here. Summer is flying by, but there’s always time to focus on self care.

As parents, we sometimes forget to take care of our mental and physical health. It’s hard to fit it all in. Here are twenty-five self care activities that you can do all August long.

They can even be fun if you have littles with you too!

1. Take a walk

2. Read a book

3. Do a paint by number

4. Journal

5. Bake a cake

6. Listen to a podcast

7. Binge a new series

8. Go swimming

9. Take a drive

10. Tend plants

11. Visit a market

12. Go kayaking

13. Call a friend

14. Go to lunch

15. Buy your favorite coffee

16. Look at the stars

17. Pick flowers

18. Dance

19. Volunteer

20. Go on a walk

21. Cuddle an animal

22. Put new sheets on your bed

23. Take a phone free day

24. Go fishing

25. Try something new

No matter what you decide to do this month, make a little time just for you.

You are so important.

If you feel selfish for taking you time… your kids will benefit from your self care too! A happy mom or dad leads to happy kids.

You and your happiness matters.

What self care activity do you plan on doing this month? Any that you’d add to the list? Let me know in the comments.

My Response to My Daughter Being an ‘Only Child.’

Grief is an ever-changing entity in my life.

Since losing Jensen, I’ve heard the wildest things in efforts to help me ‘get over’ his loss. Now since Mila is three, it’s evolved.

I’ve not been shy in talking about how things can come off as rude or intruding. Honestly, I don’t think that anyone means to come off that way. They mean to be helpful, but it’s just not.

Anytime anyone mentions me having one child, I always let them know “I have two.”

Here’s what I wish I could say…

“Don’t you want more kids so she’s not an only child?”

I have more kids. He just died.

She’ll never, ever be an only child because one came before her. I’m fact, Jensen will always be her big brother. Not even death can take that away from her, him, or me.

If you have a conversation with Mila, she’ll tell you who her big brother is. She’ll let you know he lives in her heart and she loves him.

When we have guests, she shows his pictures off and wants everyone to hold Jensen bear.

She is definitely NOT an only child.

“It has to be lonely for her not having a brother or sister?”

Just because her brother isn’t physically here, doesn’t mean she doesn’t have a relationship with him. She talks to his pictures and bear. When I hold his bear for too long, she gets jealous. She misses him dearly and always wants us to read his book. Her relationship with him is beautiful.

Mila also has an amazing set of kids she’s with all the time. Friends and cousins love her and play with her whenever she asks. She is in dance classes and will be starting preschool too.

She’s not lonely.

“Don’t you want to give her another sibling?”

She has a sibling.

My daughter grieves her brother. She wishes he was here and could come to our house all the time. We talk about him because he’s a part of our family. Our family just looks different than most.

If she were to have another sibling, it wouldn’t take away that she misses Jensen. Just like how no other child could fill his spot for me.

When she talks about missing Jensen, Mila has never asked to have another sibling.

She already has one.

One other thing… don’t ask intrusive questions about private lives. If you were supposed to know what was going on, you would.

It’s rude to assume that everyone can have a child easily. For a lot of people, it’s not.

Some people are healing from abuse.

Some just like their family unit just the way it is.

It’s been a year…

It’s been a year.

One whole year of not feeling your skin on mine. No false promises that have slipped through my ears. A complete year void of you.

The seemingly impossible feat of filling that void seems a lot more possible now. Even when I saw the signs from you and felt that tiny second of longing, I remembered.

I remembered the mental and emotional abuse. The abandonment. Every terrible thing you brought.

But, I remembered something more important — me.

I remembered the long nights of healing. The comfort of family and friends. Everything wonderful I’d never get with you.

The seemingly impossible feat of filling that void was possible because of me. Even when I slipped, I remembered my growth, happiness, and her smile. Oh, I remembered.

One whole year of doing what was right for me. No false promises going through my head. A complete year full of my growth.

It’s been a year.

What Makes a Super Papa?

A few days ago, I shared an old letter to my Super Dad. I read a few parts of it to Mila and saw her smiling at the picture.

“He’s a Super Papa, don’t you think?”

“Yeah. He my Super Papa… but why?”

We’re head deep in the “why” stage here, so I wasn’t too surprised at this question. Instead of answering her, I turned that question back to her for the next few days. During that time, I’ve wrote down all the reasons Mila thinks her Papa is her Super Papa.

Swims in the pool with me.

Let’s me surf.

Walks.

Gives me ‘nacks.

Catching the moon.

Gets rocks.

Plays with me.

Go fishing.

Tells stories.

Makes me smile.

I give him a heart.

Everything that makes him super in her eyes is being present and there for her. After she would tell me her reason, she would tell me she loves her Papa and wants to go to their house.

As she wrote in his Father’s Day card, she sung, “I love my Papa Ridgway. My Papa Ridgway loves me. He makes me happy. This is me and this is him.

I don’t know the true definition of a Super Papa, but I think Mila has it right.

Those important to you aren’t important just for one reason. It’s the millions of little things that let you know they care about you. The moments that she identifies him as super might seem like simple pieces to some, but are everything to her.

It’s the difference of making a regular man a Super Papa.

Happy Father’s Day to all the father figures positively impacting the kids in their lives. You help make the world go round. Good father figures need recognized and celebrated, especially today!

Thank you to any father figure who is putting the work in. It takes a village to raise a gold generation.

A Letter to my Super Dad.

*This letter was originally written in 2013. I’ve been reflecting on fatherhood so much this week, that I remembered this letter and wanted to share it again. So my dad could be reminded of how much he meant to me then and still today.

It’s hard for me to think a ton of negative thoughts about fatherhood, because I have one of the best.*

Dear Dad;

When I close my eyes, I can easily imagine a few people. Most notably is my family. When I picture my mom, I see her smile and hear her laugh. It gives me a warm feelings. Logan’s picture in my head is him a football uniform. I sense a strong, but welcoming feeling. My dad is more complex. I picture a him smiling too, but much taller than he actually is. He is almost always busy with something, like in his work clothes or making me breakfast. It’s a very comforting and protective feeling. He is my Super Dad and not anything less.

Almost twenty-one years ago you and Mom began something magical. The two of you were in love and soon after your family grew. Even though I obviously do not remember being brought home or anything about my beginning years, I can only imagine how much your lives changed; it mostly brings a smile to my face. A little over a year afterwards, my baby brother was brought home and even though it was the end of our family, it was the start to my beautiful life.

This weekend, you went through a tragedy I would never wish on anyone. I hope I never have to lose Logan; he, just like you and Mom, mean the whole entire world to me. From Friday night to tonight, I have witnessed every single emotion I know develop and be acted upon through you. No one should ever have that much go through them at once. I am very sorry you lost your brother and I am even more sorry and sad about the pain you are going through.

I know I’m not the best daughter.

When I was much younger, I gave unlimited hugs and love. In my eyes you were my everything, along with Mom. Every spring when we got our bikes out, you retaught me how to ride again. You taught me so much, much more than you realize. Through your actions and words I picked up on good and bad, right and wrong, and I mimic your emotions.

As I grew up, I pulled away from hugs and wanted to distance myself so I could grow up. Just like you, I became stubborn and set in my ways. We always have to be right and there’s nothing wrong with that. Even though I did things you disagreed with, you would always stick up for me. I think that meant/means the most to me. You could’ve just said I was making dumb decisions to others, but you always stood up for me. Even if it was when someone made me cry or someone that doubted my decisions, you had my back. I’m sorry I tried to differentiate myself and rebel against you guys. It wasn’t anything you guys ever did, it was just me finding myself. When I graduated and went to college, I know it made you upset when I would text Mom first, but I did not do it purposely. I went to Italy and tried my best to talk to all of you. But when I moved back home, I feel as if it bought us all back closer than ever before. On the mornings where we eat breakfast and talk start my day off wonderfully.

Through all of this time, you worked to make Logan and my life better and comfortable. There are days where you will work well into the night, just to make sure we get what we want. You devote your time not only to your family, but it makes me so happy to see you spend time doing things you love. On Friday nights, you are so happy to be on the field. The people I graduated with to the football players now all respect you and appreciate you to no end. You have impacted their lives even in a small way. Sometimes I think you believe we take you for granted, but I assure you that is not true.

You are the most important man in my life and will always be; even though you think that won’t be true sometime in the future. The way you raised me has and always will impact and effect me and the things I do. When people tell me I’m a good student, worker or person, it is a direct reflection on your parenting. You’re more than just a parent too. I can talk to you, joke around or I don’t have to say anything if I can’t. You are hard working, caring and even though we can argue, you can make me laugh or smile anytime. My relationship with you is unlike any other relationship I have. I can’t imagine not having you in my life.

For selfish reasons, this weekend’s events have made me think about what would happen if I lost you… Honestly, I don’t know what I would do. I would not only lose my father, but one of my best friends too.

I just want you to always know I love you and I thank you for everything that I accomplish; without you I would be nothing. I promise to hug you more and call you first more. (Not just when my car breaks down on the side of the road.) I hope I never see you as sad and upset as you were this weekend. It really hurts me to see you like that, although I know those emotions are normal. Like I’ve said many times these past few days: I am so sorry.

I love you Dad and I promise I will always be your little girl.

5 June Affirmations for Self Love.

With post school craziness, I’ve been lacking on setting aside time for self care. I knew for June that I needed to make self love affirmation cards to remind myself to take time for me.

Since I love painting, I did random doodles to be the backdrop for my affirmations.

I love that they can be as simple or complex as I want to make it.

For this month, I wanted to focus on how colors made me feel. It seems like I always am drawn to rainbows, so I’m not surprised that’s what I drew. All the other colors were straight from my emotions and I tried to get the words to match.

Here’s my June affirmations this month. I also shared my cross between watercolor and digital art. Please feel free to use and share them if you’d like!

I spread love wherever I go.

I choose to let go of past anger.

Just keep shining.

I will ride out this wave.

You are important too.

Affirmations are so important for me to do. I hang them up in my kitchen where I can see them. They don’t have to be big pieces of paper to make a huge impact.

These little reminders will help me remember to make time for myself this summer. Mothers need self care and self love. This is mine.

Even if it’s five minutes, make sure to take time for you.

You’re important. You deserve it.

What affirmations or quotes have been speaking to you lately? Let me know in the comments.

Celebrating Fathers with a Fatherless Daughter

Simplicity of Grace

‘A mama, a papa, and a baby.’

My two-year-old says as she brings me three different sizes of stuffed animals. This concept of family, what a family is supposed to look like is new to her. After a few movies, she’s realized our little mother-daughter unit is not the same as her favorite characters.

Being a single parent, I didn’t think we’d have conversations like this for a long time. I tell her some families have a mama and a papa, others just have a mama or a papa, or some have two mamas or two papas. And no matter what a family consists of, all that matters is the family’s love and happiness. A lot of that information goes over her head and she reverts back to her mama, papa, and baby pretend play.

As I sit and watch her play like this, I worry about her future and if she will think it’s negative she doesn’t have a ‘dad’ in her life. I think she’s happy with just the two of us, but moms always worry.

With Father’s Day nearing and with my daughter noticing talk of dads, my worry for my fatherless daughter has increased… until I realized family is so much more than a mama, a papa, and a baby.

Through this journey of motherhood, I realize ‘father figures’ are not always biological dads.

My daughter is impacted every day by men in her life that choose her. By widening the scope of what makes a family, she has never missed out on having a ‘dad.’ She has a grandpa who protects and plays with her. An uncle that chases her around and helps her fix things that are broken. A great-grandpa that makes sure she has everything she needs and cheers her on. There are countless of other ‘uncles’ who watch over her, ask about her days, and continually want the very best for her. She might not be ‘theirs,’ but there isn’t a shortage of love and fatherly influence.

So on this Father’s Day and every day, I want to say thank you to all of them for showing my daughter what a dad is supposed to look like. Thank you for choosing her when hers wouldn’t. She has soaked that impact up more than I could have ever imagined.

Thank you to the dads the make a difference in their children’s lives and the others that aren’t theirs too.

To my daughter and other children who don’t have involved fathers, I hope you see that there are so many that love you and want the best for you. A family isn’t just a mama, a papa, and a baby, but a group of people who pick each other and support them unconditionally.

Originally published on Newsymom.

Toddler Activity: Ice Cream Bonanza

With the temps steadily increasing, Mila keeps asking about one thing for breakfast: ice cream. To make her ice cream dreams come true, we had an ice cream bonanza (after lunch) to celebrate life.

I mean… there doesn’t need to be any reason to eat ice cream, but we had to make it special. They’re only three and this excitable once!

The first step was to make an ice cream charcuterie board!

We used all our favorite ice cream toppings for this. M&Ms, Oreos, strawberries, whipped cream, and of course sprinkles. Plus a little more too. Mila was shocked this whole board was for her!

Good thing she didn’t eat everything off of it. That would have been a fun sugar rush.

After she was satisfied with her dessert, we opened up her new Little Bookish Wardrobe box. We’ve been subscribed to this monthly box since last year! It’s a great way to add to your library. Plus, it comes with a dress up outfit AND a few activities to do too.

This month’s book was Izzy: The Ice Cream Fairy by Make Believe Ideas. It’s an adorable book that Mila had so much fun reading.

The story is set at a beach. Izzy and the ice cream fairies run out of ice cream. So, they go on a trip to find more. So much drama! Mila’s face throughout it was hilarious.

Honestly though, the best part of our whole bonanza was seeing Mila dress up as an ice cream fairy.

She thought her dress up outfit was perfect for the day.

After the book, we did the activities on the card. She also answered all my ice cream related questions, which made me happy.

Apparently her favorite ice cream is vanilla. Sprinkles are her favorite topping. She loves the ice cream from The Tusky Dugout and Dairy Queen. Cookies do NOT go on ice cream, but they’re good to snack while you’re eating it.

I love three.

Have you ever had an ice cream party for your toddler? What’s your favorite type of charcuterie board? Sweet or savory? Let me know in the comments.

My Everlasting Flowers.

I always dreamed of Jensen picking flowers for me. We’d have a house filled with dandelion and wildflower jars.

Although I do have a house like that now, it’s not from Jensen. Mila brings as much love as she does flowers into our house. Our life is happy, but we will always be missing a piece.

For a long time, I’ve wondered how I could get the dream of flowers from Jensen. Then I got a random tattoo.

After that tattoo, I talked to the tattoo artist about Jensen and how I’d love a bouquet of forget-me-not flowers on me. I wanted to always carry them, just like how he always walks with me.

So, we scheduled another tattoo session.

In a couple hours, I have my flowers picked by my Jensen. Every time I see blue forget-me-nots, I think of him. Now when I look at my arm, I think of him and the countless amounts of flowers he’ll have for me.

It felt a little radical to get a tattoo on my forearm that can always be seen, but I love it.

He and these flowers are a part of our story.

Most of my tattoos are in remembrance of Jensen. I love knowing that even though he’s not physically with us, I can always see him in my body. No matter if it’s on my foot, wrist, or arm, I can always catch a glimpse of him.

By the way, Mila likes this tattoo way more than the one on my ankle. She loves counting them and telling me how blue is for her brother.

What’s your favorite tattoo that you have? Or if you don’t have one, what would you get if you did?

Motherhood freed me.

Last month, I saw a post by Avery’s Garden asking for submissions of creative grief. The prompt was, “What does motherhood look like to you?”

For me, motherhood has been complicated and full of ups and downs.

In the beginning, I was stripped away from physically mothering Jensen. I will never be able to fully explain that pain and how it will always linger. I’ve tried hundreds of time, but there are no words.

As the months and years have went past, my motherhood has evolved.

I have Mila and we remember Jensen each day. With the two of them, I parent and honor them so different. I’ve changed the way I look at my motherhood too.

Here’s how I see my motherhood this year…

Through the grief and nakedness
of losing the biggest part of me,
planted a seed.

Out of that pain and emptiness
came all the growth and beauty.
Motherhood freed me.

I’m definitely not an artist, but I enjoyed painting and creating. When I look at this piece, I think of how far I’ve come and how much love I give every day.

Motherhood isn’t a pretty thing. It’s hard and is never perfect. Somehow through it all, it’s freed me.

I couldn’t imagine a life without them. Everyday I’m glad they chose me to be their mom.