First, clean off your frame. I like to do this so I don’t noticed smudges after everything is finished. Plus, it’s nice to work with a clear area.
Then, paint your child’s hand. Mila picked pink, of course and I thought it looked beautiful. When it’s painted, firmly press your child’s hand on the inside pane of glass. If there’s a few missing space, you can repaint their hand and redo the process!
Next, let your child put the pressed flowers where they’d like.
When they have their final spot, clasp the second glass pane to keep the handprint and flowers safe.
On the outside, I decided to paint the word love and the year on the corner. “Love” was purely decorative, but the date is something I do on all of our projects!
Then you’re all finished.
I truly think this DIY Floral Handprint Art would be a lovely piece for moms, grandmas, and every other mother figure in your child’s life.
What’s your tips on pressing or drying flowers? I’d love to hear different ways… especially with Mila’s love of flower picking.
Looking to warm up on a chilly week night? This Minestrone Soup takes a little love, but worth every bite.
Whoever you’re making this delicious meal for, they’ll be sure to love it: especially you!
My favorite soup ay Olive Garden is their minestrone soup. It’s filled with fresh veggies and the broth is always spot on. I knew I had to try to make it at home.
Since I was recently gifted beef broth from Kettle and Fire, it felt like my sign to go get the other ingredients too. Kettle and Fire‘s broth was so easy to work with, tasted amazing, and has all whole food ingredients without any artificial flavors, hormones, or additives. All things I feel 100% happy with giving Mila.
Again, I took a TON of videos and not a lot of pictures. Thankfully the pictures I did get make it look as yummy as it tasted! You can see the video down below.
Here’s the other ingredients you’ll need for this Week Night Minestrone Soup:
Christmas is almost here and mom guilt is in full effect. There’s presents to be wrapped, the kids asked for a new toy from Santa, and the cookies haven’t been baked yet. All while you still have to parent, work, and everything else too.
Not thinking you can get everything off your Christmas Bucket List done or making the holiday season as magical as it can be, it makes you feel bad.
In efforts to be nice to myself, I wanted to share some ways to I decrease mom guilt during the holidays with you.
Take a Deep Breath
Whenever I feel myself spiraling into mom guilt, I try to calm myself. Usually, I just need to take a deep breath and realize my thoughts and emotions are getting the best of me.
Believe me, I get it. There’s a ton to do, but if you can calm yourself with a deep breath and taking things one step at a time, it will help. In that moment you can realize what’s really important and what you can handle in the next five minutes, hour, or day.
You are one person and it feels like the world is on your shoulders. Don’t forget to breathe and remember you’re doing your best.
Buy Premade Crafts/Baked Goods
I have a love/hate relationship with Instagram. It makes me feel creative and show other parents easy activities to do with your kids.
On the other hand, there are times I have NO idea how everyone’s getting things done… and so beautifully! It can make me feel guilty about where I am with the holidays or coming up with unique crafts or baking all kinds of cookies from scratch.
My big tip… buy premade crafts and baked goods. They don’t even need to be all the way done.
If you walk into Joann Fabrics or any craft store (even the dollar store), there are a ton of different fun Christmas crafts and activities. Mila and I have done quite a few this year and it was just as fun… with just as cute outcomes.
Plus, I am all for buying cake boxes so I don’t have to think about all the ingredients. Or they had premade cut outs that all you had to do was bake and decorate.
This is such a time saver for me while still giving me that feeling of doing jolly holiday activities.
Involve Your Child
Kids are seriously magical. They want to help whenever they can and what they do always turns out so precious… or hilarious.
Mila helps me out with so many different things during the holiday season:
The root of the holidays and making traditions are the kids… so make them the center of it.
Cookies, presents, and all the other home things do not have to be perfect; especially during the holidays. I think it’s more special knowing a child helped with all of these things. It teaches them and helps you out too.
Another part of mom guilt and worry during the holidays is money. Mila and I always try to make gifts and they’re usually the ones most loved.
Involving children in the holiday hustle can really help with mom guilt and making memories too.
Take Care of You
If you’re anything like me, I put myself on the back burner. I constantly try to put others ahead of me and make sure the ones I love have everything they need… even if I don’t.
Whenever I’m in a bad mental place, I feel like my mom guilt is worse. I’m not at my best (or nicest) to Mila. It makes stressful times like the holidays way more intense. Not only do I feel bad on the inside, everyone else can feel it too.
Even when you have a million things to do, make space for you.
I know it’s hard, but you need and deserve it.
Personally, I love wrapping presents. It’s really relaxing to me and I make sure to put one of my favorite movies on with a big cup of peppermint hot chocolate. Honestly, it’s not much, but it gives myself space and takes care of my needs.
I would also suggest trying to get a babysitter so you can do things like that OR a self care day during this time.
The biggest message I’m trying to convey is to not forget about yourself. You are important and need to be taken care of just like everyone else, no matter the time of year.
Live in the Moment
Through the craziness of the holidays and trying to plan everything out, try to live in the moment.
Whenever I get so busy and planned out, I feel myself slip into autopilot or going through the motions. Honestly, the best parts of this past month is the moments not planned.
Mila and I went to the Akron Zoo’s Wild Lights on a whim. It wasn’t planned and we had so much fun. Another time, we were asked to go watch a play of The Grinch a couple hours before it started. Again, it was so much fun.
It’s easy to fall into checking things off your list, b it you can’t forget to live either.
Whenever I feel guilty as Mila watches a show while I’m rushing around, we hop in the car and go look at Christmas decorations and lights. It’s simple, but puts a smile on both of our faces.
Life is way too short to feel guilt and not soak up all these moments.
No matter what you need to do during this holiday season, remember you are doing your best. There’s no need to feel guilty. You are the best mom and parent to your child.
I promise they see your hard work and love you so much for it and for you just being their parent.
What ways do you decrease mom guilt during the holidays? Let us know in the comments.
It’s National Sons Day and parents are posting pictures of their favorite little guys.
When I see everyone’s post, I smile because every child is so special and worthy of being shared. They’re proud of their sons and when it was National Daughter’s Day, they were all proud of their daughters too. Just like I was when I posted Mila’s picture.
On that day, I paused and thought about all the grieving moms and dads whose daughters died. I know that sting of seeing other kids grow.
It helped me prep myself for this day, because I wish I had pictures of you at five.
Instead, I get to post my favorite pictures of you when you were born. It’s my day to share how proud I am of my son, of you. I get to talk about how you made me a mom and how even though you’re not here with me, I get to love you more and more every day.
You and Mila both know that every day in our home is kid’s day. In different ways, you and Mila are the focus of everything I do.
I still get to buy the ‘boy’ things and Mila brings them to your bear. She still talks to you all the time at home. Sometimes she even talks for you, with her deep Jensen voice. It always feels like you’re right there with us and I know you’re there. Just as much as Mila is celebrated, you are too, my sweet boy.
On this Son’s Day and all the future ones, I want you to know that you are never forgotten and that I’m so proud to be your mom.
You were the one to teach me how to love unconditionally and to show me the meaning of life.
This weekend, Mila and her friends were transformed from their fabulous, preschool selves to beautiful princesses. Atwood Lake Park hosted Princess in the Park for area girls and it was a fairytale for everyone involved.
Naturally, Mila took the afternoon napping and getting ready for the event.
There were two sessions for it, but we went to the later one at 5:30. Thankfully that nap came in handy. To get her ready, she got her hair curled, put a little bit of makeup one, and was dressed in her favorite princess dress.
She was too excited to take pictures before we left, even though she made me and my parents dress up for the occasion.
It only made sense since we were going to be in the presence of a ton of princesses!
When we got there, the girls were divided into four groups: red, purple, silver, and blue (or maybe pink, we weren’t in that group). You could tell their group by the necklaces they gave them when they were registered. Mila was in the purple group, so that’s the timeline of the night I’ll be following.
There were four different princess activity stations: craft, carriage ride, story and snack time, and nail and hand painting.
The first station Mila went to was the crafting one. Here, all the princesses decorated a frame and a princess wand. Mila absolutely LOVED the wand and it turned out so cute. She held it most of the night and pretended to have magic powers too.
They had all the craft supplies ready for us. There were wooden skewers, stickers, ribbons, stars, and the frame. I think Mila tried to put everything on her wand. It turned out adorable.
It seemed like all the other princesses enjoyed their craft too!
After craft time was the carriage ride.
Cinderella brought her magical carriage with her beautiful horses for all the little princesses to ride. Of course she joined in too! They had six girls at a time join Cinderella and they took a carriage ride around the Atwood Lake Park. It took about fifteen minutes, but it probably seemed a lot quicker for the little ones.
Honestly, this part was just as magical for the parents as it was the kids. The carriage was breathtaking and I hope it made Mila feel so special. Her smile was radiating.
When the carriage ride was over, the other half of the group of kids went on and Mila’s got to meet Mrs. Ohio from 2011. Her name is Mrs. Melanie Miller and she did amazing with the little ones. Mila was so happy to meet another real life princess for the night!
She instantly wanted to give her a hug and sit and talk with her. I think Mila was a little awe-struck because she didn’t say a lot, but kept looking at Mrs. Miller and her crowns. I think she loved her sparkly dress too. They discussed how their favorite letter was “M” and how Mila should always follow her dreams. It was so adorable. Mrs. Miller also gave Mila an autographed picture that she talked about and showed us on the way home.
Mrs. Ohio, if you are reading this, thank you so much for being patient and so caring. It truly made an impact on our girls. I know Mila enjoyed meeting and talking with you.
Next it was story and snack time!
They had cupcakes there for the kids to ice and decorate. Although they didn’t have tea, they had apple juice that were perfect for princesses.
As the kids decorated their cupcakes and ate them, a man (whose name I didn’t catch) read a story to the kids. He let them name the princess and unicorn. Mila came up with the name Aveena for the princess and another girl names the unicorn Sedine. They really gave him tricky names to remember. It was pretty comical.
It was a really cute story and gave the kids time to calm down after all the carriage and Mrs. Ohio excitement.
I love watching Mila decorate her cupcake too! She gets better at it every time.
The next and last station was the nail and hand painting. Although a lot of girls sat and got theirs done, Mila had other plans. She’s not the “let’s get our nails painted” princess. Instead, she decided to play.
Since my parents went with us, she had my dad play on the playground with her. They had so much fun on the equipment and the swings.
It also was nice that she got to get really tired before we left!
I love watching her play and interact with other kids and her grandpa. I swear every time I look at her it looks like she’s grown up more. It’s one of the most bittersweet feelings that all parents (I think) feel.
After the last station, we could leave. Instead though, Mila got to meet up with her friends. They, again, went to see Mrs. Ohio and took pictures with her. It was so cute watching them listen to her and wanting to see her crowns. I swear us parents looked like the paparazzi taking a ton of pictures. It was just so exciting.
The princesses took more pictures and played for some time after too. I loved seeing them all dressed up. They’re usually beautiful, but they looked extra cute all dressed up.
I am so thankful for everyone at Atwood Lake Park and the princesses that made this happen. Mila and the rest of their kids really enjoyed themselves. I know she will be talking about this event for days, especially when we go and print pictures out!
Since we live in such a small, tight community, it’s amazing to get our kids together and interacting. It’s truly special and amazing.
If you live local, what are some events you’re looking forward to this fall? If you don’t live local, what are some fall events that you think Mila and I should do? Let me know in the comments.
When Mila started preschool, I knew there would be questions about our family unit. She knows her brother died and can obviously see she doesn’t have a dad.
I’ve been preparing myself for questions, but I never thought she might have thought he died.
For the last year and a half, I’ve let her know it’s her and I against the world. That it’s okay to just have a mom. All families are different. Some have just one parent: mom or dad. Some have two: a mom and dad, two moms, two dads.
She seems to understand and tells me she is happy. If you talk to her, you can see that too.
BUT, no matter how happy or how much love she has, there’s still a missing piece in her life.
“Mom, is my dad dead?”
“No, he’s not dead. Why do you ask that?”
“At preschool, I told my friends I didn’t have a daddy, just a mommy, and someone asked if he died.Like Jensen.”
“He didn’t die. It’s just you and I. When you get older, I’ll tell you more about him. Promise.”
Then she gives me a hug and let’s me hold her for a while. I don’t know if she cried because I couldn’t look. When she let go, she told me she loved me and went along her way.
I can’t tell you all the emotions that conversation made me feel.
If I could have screamed, I would. There was so much anger and sadness in me, on top of wanting to protect Mila from the world, from her dad.
It honestly makes sense that she thought that. She knows she has a brother that’s not here anymore. Jensen died and whew not here. She doesn’t have a dad, so in her head it makes sense he died too.
I’ll never understand how one person is okay with leaving a little girl, their flesh and blood, with so many questions… especially in the most impressionable years of her life. Okay with never knowing her or wanting her to succeed. Okay with not keeping her safe: emotionally, socially, and physically. Okay with her wondering if he died. Not that I even want him or his family involved with her, it’s still unfair to Mila not to know and wonder if he just died.
Sometimes I think that would have been an easier explanation for her. Death would make more sense than just being an abusive, neglectful, and cruel person to a child.
I don’t even understand it, how could a three year old?
It was one of those times as a parent when I had to separate my feelings and just had to focus on Mila. She needs to know that no matter what, her mom will always be there for her.
Being a single parent is hard. There’s so many questions I know Mila will have in the future that will feel like a hurdle when we get there.
This was just one of those times.
The next few days after the big question, she seemed a little down. I tried to make those days special and read books to her about different types of families. We also made a little book of our family to show her how many people love her.
I can’t change the fact that Mila’s dad is a terrible person who’s abandoned her. What I can help is how she views the world and her situation.
She is the most special girl. No one can ever take that away from her.
Usually I ask for advice or a question at the end of every blog post. I know Mila and I’d situation is unique, but if you have any book recommendations about single parent families, positive and helpful suggestions, or other resources that would help, please let me know.
It’s almost fall, so that means it’s time for autumn themed play. This week, we made pumpkin spice play dough.
Not only does it smell amazing, it’s a ton of fun to play with… for kids and adults!
One BIG thing about this recipe is that it makes a lot of play dough. I was actually really surprised with how much there was after I made it. Honestly, I would suggest cutting this recipe in half. Unless you want to gift some to others!
The best part of this DIY play dough is that it’s only four ingredients and you don’t even need to cook it like other recipes.
2 cups of flour
1/2 cup of vegetable oil
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
Dash of pumpkin spice
It’s crazy that you can make good smelling play dough with only four ingredients… really only three main ones if you don’t want it to smell like pumpkin spice.
Mila helped make everything! We measured out all of the ingredients and she helped pour everything in. At first we started stirring it with a fork, then it got too thick and we had to start mixing it with our hands.
For the pumpkin spice, we poured a lot more than a dash. We poured it in until we could smell it!
She ended up playing with it for a long time. I think play dough really calms her. It’s also fun to watch her do pretend play with play dough. Another way you can challenge your toddler or preschooler to play with play dough is to have them make different shapes. It’s fun to watch them try to figure out how to make the shape with their hands.
To store this play dough, just keep it in an air tight container in the refrigerator. Mines in a ziplock baggie with all the air pushed out.
Before Mila plays with it, I just have it on the counter to warm up a little bit.
I’ve been trying to take more videos, but I’m forgetting to take pictures… oops. Thankfully I can share them on here.
It’s fun to watch the memories live instead of just pictures. I’ll try to do both!
I can’t wait to see all the times Mila plays with the play dough throughout the season. If we think of more fun ways to play, I’ll share them here with you.
Have you ever made play dough before? What’s your favorite type to make?
No matter if your little needs to stay busy after school or during the day, activity boxes will help! This week, Mila has been enjoying a Dinosaur Activity Box.
Filled with books, educational worksheets, sensory objects, and dinosaur toys, Mila has been engaged with this activity box all week. Every time she goes to pull something out, she can explore a new way to play. That’s what makes these boxes so intriguing to kids.
I’m actually really happy that Mila is interested in dinosaurs. Here’s a little secret… dinosaurs are one of my weird fears. I mean they’re extinct. Since Mila is interested in them now, I’ve learned a ton about them. Thank you to all the authors who have simplified the terms and information to toddler books. I really think the dancing dino books have been a huge help into getting Mila interested in them.
Anyways, since Mila is in a weird in between of waiting for preschool while I’m at school, I thought putting together activity boxes would be perfect.
This is a low prep solution to keeping her engaged while she’s with my mom. I can imagine babysitters would love this idea too. All my mom has to do is grab the box and take it. Next week, I’ll have a different theme with similar activities.
Here’s what’s in the box…
Mila learns best with books and activities. We’ve collected a ton of books in her three years, but they have paid themselves off with all that she’s learned.
A few months ago, we actually did a fun activity with Dino Dance by Sandra Boynton. Mila actually remembered it when she saw her activity box and flipped to their dances. It’s so nice to know she has that information stored somewhere.
The other books are just as valuable. We love them all and read them even without talking about dinosaurs…
It turns out, Mila loves worksheets. She loves the idea of ‘working,’ so it’s made learning a breeze.
I went through all her different workbooks and found the dinosaur themed ones. Some of them talk about the letter ‘d’ and others are working on prewriting. Either way, they are her level and she’s learning.
I’d definitely recommend starting your toddler or preschooler with worksheets at home. Target and Amazon always has amazing options!
Resin letters are a must to add to any activity. I love that they help familiarize kids with the alphabet in a fun way that they can hold in their hands.
For this activity bin, I obviously put ‘dinosaur’ in an egg for Mila to explore. She matched them up with the letters on the books and we went over them too. This particular set was made by one of my students. However, I love Beags and Bubs‘ resin letters on Instagram. I bought a custom set a few weeks ago and have used them a ton. They’d be a great Christmas or birthday present!
Pretend play is Mila’s favorite way to play. She likes to make up different voices and scenarios. I HAD to include them in her bin.
Not only did the dinosaurs dance, they played all types of different games with them too. Mila likes to make the dinosaur toys act out the books as well. She could pretend play for hours. This was no different than usual!
I also added some sensory play items in there for her too. She loves the different textures of the play-dough and slime. In this bin, I only put in ‘dinosaur colors,’ which are greens and blues. This way she can make foot prints, try to make dinosaurs, or just give her brain a little break.
Some of the other sensory items I added were beads, a dinosaur egg, and play-dough moulds.
Overall, this activity box was a success! Mila loved it and I love watching her learn.
I have a few ideas for future boxes, but would love to hear what you all would like to see too! Let me know in the comments!
Then check out these dinosaur inspired activities:
It’s back to school time! Before I know it, Mila will be starting her first year of preschool. To help her start the year off right, I compiled a Back to School Success Backpack for her.
Although we didn’t get a supply list, I figured there were some must haves that Mila needed. I want her to feel comfortable going away to school for the first time ever. It’s a HUGE change. She’s going to thrive there, but if there’s a chance she’ll miss me or be a little sad, I wanted her to have things that made her smile.
Everything personalized I ordered from Etsy, but you can find non-personalized things at a ton of local stores. Mila loves personalized things because she’s familiar with ‘her letters.’
If you love any of these items, I’m going to list the shop and the item link below. That way you’re able to check them out. All of these shops have different colors and styles that will be perfect for you child. This is just what I knew Mila would love.
BIG surprise here… Mila just had to have a rainbow backpack. We love what rainbows symbolize to us. Plus, it’s pink. I know Mila will love taking this to school everyday and will remember to bring it back filled with goodies too!
This is my FAVORITE item in her first day of school success backpack.
Not only do we get matching bracelets, it’s super meaningful. I miss her all day when I’m at work and I have a feeling she might feel the same. Whenever she looks down, I hope she knows I’m thinking about her too.
Mila actually loves bracelets and I know she’ll take really good care of this one. Probably until it breaks!
One activity that really clicks for Mila are scavenger hunts. To help prepare her for school, I downloaded these really handy morning and night checklists from Celebration Stylist. They have a TON of different printables for almost any occasion you can think about. I’d definitely recommend their website for busy moms who don’t have the time to make decorations or items, but still want to incorporate them in their lives.
Anyways, we’ve been using these to help her understand what we have to do to make our days successful. At night, she’s already remembering what should happen next and is enjoying this routine.
If you’re looking for page protectors, I got this specific one from Target! They work so nice and let us reuse these every day!
This affirmation sheet is also from Celebration Stylist. For the last few weeks, I’ve been reading them all to her and they make her smile. These types of affirmations can really help boost a child’s confidence.
I’m putting this in her folder to take to school so she can remember them. My hope is if she is feeling down, she looks at this list and remembers who she is.
The last two items I’m making sure she has handy for her first day of school is a snack and one of her water bottles. I cannot go through the work day without drinking or snacking throughout. Even though I know her teachers will provide her with that, this is just an ‘in case of emergency’ type of deal.
I am so excited for Mila to start this new journey. Every part of me knows she will succeed and love learning and playing with her new friends.
It’s my hope that Mila will have all the tools she will need in this Back to School Success Backpack. In her three years, I’ve done my best to help prepare her for this step and now it’s time for her to shine. This will be another part of her life that I’m just insanely proud of.
I can’t wait to hear all her stories… and maybe share a few here too.
In the comments, let me know what you did to be successful. What did you send with your preschooler on their first day? Do you have any tips or tricks?
After that, check out how these other moms are prepping for back to school:
There’s nothing more special than a mother daughter date night! Instead of going out, Mila and I stayed in and practiced self care.
Since this first week back to school has been hectic, staying in and relaxing felt right. We both needed the rest and the together time to recharge for the upcoming week. Plus, we got to just focus on what self care we needed.
To begin the night, I took a hot shower where I put on a hair mask (seriously the mask I linked does wonders!) and used sugar scrub.
I never have enough time to do these extra steps! Setting aside this time made my skin and hair feel so soft and new.
Mila, on the other hand, had a bubble bath beforehand. She spent her time doing her own makeup. I didn’t know this, but she definitely was feeling herself and all the glitter.
We kept it on until right before bed because she liked it. When you have a self care night, you have to feel like your best self.
I can’t blame her for wanting to be covered in glitter.
After my lotion dried, we put on our favorite jammies. Then, we got our self care essentials for the night:
As a busy mom, I don’t always get to read as much as I’d like. Just even being able to read a few pages felt so nice. It’s also amazing for Mila to see me reading and enjoying it! I hope so loves English and language as much as I do.
The book she picked out is adorable! She often asks me to read it to her before bed. Now she makes up the story when she looks at it herself.
Throughout watching movies and reading our books, we snacked on our cheese balls and jello.
Mila asked for water, without Mio. I’m so proud of her positive choices. I told her she could have anything to drink and that’s what she chose.
We ended the night taking selfies and I painted Mila’s nails. I love that we both have dark purple polish on now. Anytime we can match, I feel like we try to do it. Even when we stay in.
It wasn’t long after her nails dried until Mila fell asleep. We had wiped her makeup off and she was just relaxed.
I ended the night watching dance moms and maybe had a few more cheese balls too.
Our night was pretty perfect.
We love being together and doing the things we enjoy. I can’t express how much joy Mila brings me. Hopefully she’ll be able to see the importance of self care as she gets older.
We all deserve to love and cherish ourselves.
Have you ever had a self care night with just your or with your little? What was your favorite activity?