Weird Things My Toddler Does: Part Six.

It’s 2021 and toddlers are still weird as ever; especially mine

Sometimes I’m shocked by her new phrases and what she comes up with. Her latest proclamation has me constantly giggling though.

If you didn’t know, Mila is still nursing. She’s not ready to stop and I’m just following her lead. Now that she can talk and understand what I’m asking her, she’s let me know more about her experience with ‘boobie.’

Curious to why she likes it and still wants to nurse, I asked her a specific question. What does it taste like?

Without any thought, she told me it tastes like chocolate milk. But, she likes boobie milk better.

Since chocolate milk is her go to drink, I guess I’ll take her comment as a compliment. At least I somewhat understand why there isn’t an end to nursing in sight.

Kids say the darndest things, right? Or maybe my toddler is just super weird.

Zucchini and Chicken Casserole Recipe

The first recipe of the new year was a crowd favorite for my family. Mila even stole bites from my plate!

It’s a tasty, low prep meal that will become one of your family’s favorites.

Here’s the ingredients:

  • Rotisserie chicken
  • 2 large zucchinis
  • 1 can of cream of chicken soup
  • 1 box of chicken stuffing mix
  • 1/2 cup of butter
  • 1/2 cup of sour cream
  • Cheese

First, preheat your oven to 350 degrees and grease a basking dish.

While it’s preheating, melt the butter and then, in a bowl, mix it with the chicken stuffing mix. I added a little more butter to this, but do what you think works best. Set aside half of this combination for the topping.

Then, pull and shred your rotisserie chicken. Make sure to get out all of the bones. You could also use chicken breast or thighs too.

Next, dice your zucchini in bite sized pieces.

After everything is cut, combine the chicken, zucchini, cream of chicken soup, and sour cream to one of the stuffing halves.

Mix it up and then spread this to your baking dish. Add the other half of the stuffing mixture and cheese on top.

Put it in the oven, uncovered, and bake for 40 minutes or until it’s warm through and the top is golden brown.

One of the best part of this recipe, besides it being easy and tasty, is Mila was able to easily help me make it! Cooking with her most nights creates memories I know I’ll never forget.

I love finding meals she enjoys making and eating to keep her interested in cooking.

If you try today’s recipe, let me know what you think in the comments!

Perfect Moments.

I wanted to post this yesterday, but, like this story, my Christmas was filled with Mila. This was my final story for my creative writing class this year. I’m proud of it and I wanted to share it with all of you.

I hope all of you had a very, merry Christmas. Enjoy.

My eyes blink open and everything seems so bright. The morning air feels chilly as I search for her in bed.

I realize she’s not here. Being alone can be so scary.

In the mornings, I typically love to cuddle up beside her. She is my safe place. Anytime I’m cold, she warms me up. When afraid, she shows me there’s nothing to fear. The mornings she’s not here, I try to tell myself she hasn’t gone too far.

The longer I wait in her big bed, the more I worry she’s forgotten about me. I let out a little whimper, then I call her name wondering if she’ll hear me.

“Mama?”

I hear the sweetest voice coming from the bedroom. Her footsteps start silently and get louder the closer she gets. All morning I’ve been up preparing for this moment.

It’s still snowing outside, as it has all night. My coffee has long been cold, but the hot chocolate on the stove is at the perfect temperature. There are only crumbs on the Santa plate and the milks all gone in the reindeer cup. All her presents are wrapped in shiny, red paper with big bows on top. The fairy lights around the living room and the Christmas tree are shining bright.


There will never be a perfect moment, but this is as close as it’ll get.

She’s running through the doorway at this point and there’s only one thing I can say.

“Merry Christmas!”

I can’t believe my eyes. Santa came and left presents at my house, just for me. The cookies Mama and I made are all gone and it looks like he loved the milk we left him too.

Mama is smiling at me as she holds her arms open for a hug. This is the safety I was looking for this morning. I look up at her and smile. She looks beautiful with the lights twinkling in her eyes. I tell her Merry Christmas back. I’m still in shock. Santa brought presents and I can’t wait to rip this paper off of them. Mama and I are going to play all day.

When she puts me down, she pours us hot chocolate and I guess I should take a drink first. It tastes extra chocolatey with peppermint! Maybe Santa left some for us.


“Santa brought me presents and hot chocolate!”

The only thing I can do is smile at her. Her innocence and awe of everything in the world has impacted me more than she could ever imagine. She sees the magic around us and I wouldn’t want it differently.

I wonder if she notices the dark circles under my eyes or that my hair hasn’t been brushed. Wrapping presents all night while trying to be quiet was no easy task.

She asks if she can open them up and I nod at her.

With every quick rip of the wrapping paper, she smiles even bigger. The presents she wanted and circled in the Amazon toy book are now in her hands. I don’t think I’ve ever seen her smile bigger.

I pull out my phone to capture this moment.

“Say cheese!”

Mama pulls out her phone again. I don’t know why she’s been on it so much lately. We have plenty to do here, but I say cheese as loud as I can. Can’t she understand that Santa has brought me these presents.

I go back to unwrapping. In the background, I hear her tell me if a present is from her or someone else I know. Between each gift, I look want to figure out how I can get them out, but Mama just tells me to give them to her.

We’re back to being a team.

She gets the first present open and it’s something I’ve never seen before. There’s still presents under the tree, but when Mama explains what this thing does, I want to play with it.

I run to get my snow coat, pants, and shoes. Mama gets my gloves and hat. She puts them all on me and I run out the back door.

The cold air stops me in my tracks. No wonder why I was so cold this morning.

There’s more snow than there was yesterday and it keeps falling. Where is my mama? She will love all this snow.

“Come on, Mama!”

This surprise gift caught her off guard. It’s one I don’t think she’s even ever seen one before. Her face when she saw it out was priceless.

She hurried outside and I have to get warm quick.

I’m moving more slowly than normal; the tiredness form the night is wearing me down. She’s yelling for me as I slip some boots on and wrap my big, winter coat around me. I rush out the door as she’s saying my name more.

It’s so bright out. The fresh snow is crisp under each step. There’s beauty all around me, but I can only look at her.

I lay her gift down and almost naturally she jumped on top of it. The rope feels rough in my hands, but I hold on tight. Its blades cut through the snow and her laugh somehow fills our whole backyard.

Who knew an old school sled could bring a toddler so much fun?

Time went by so fast. All I could hear was her yelling to go faster. I went as fast as I could for as long as I could. When I looked back, her cheeks were red and I knew it was time to go in.

“Let’s go get warmed up.”

My cheeks hurt from smiling and maybe cause it’s cold outside.

Mama scoops me up from my new toy, a sled. Instantly I’m warm again. We go into home and I remember something important.

I try to squirm out of my mama’s arms, but she’s holding me tight. Somehow, I kick enough for her to let me down. She’s saying something to me, but I don’t listen. This is way more important and my mama needs it right now.

Santa didn’t forget about me this morning, but I didn’t see him bring anything for her. She needs to know she’s been a good girl too.

In my room, under the rainbow Christmas tree, I uncover a pretty box. Then I run out to her.

“Mama! Mama!”

She’s so impatient. As soon as I get her in the house, she has to run off. Now she’s running back in here. There’s something in her hands.

Quickly, she pulls my hand to the couch and as I sit, she puts a box in my hands.

There’s a tag addressed to me in her writing. The present is wrapped with a lot of tape. She looks so proud of her little surprise to me.

I don’t even need to open it. Whatever is inside will be my favorite gift of all time.

This Christmas morning has been full of perfect moments. The dark circles under my eyes feel like they have vanished and the cold has left both of our bodies. I never want to forget this.

She is my safe place and always makes me feel warm. Anytime I’m afraid of what’s going to come next, she helps me realize there’s nothing to fear. She’ll never know how thankful I am for her.

I open the present from her and without even seeing it, I wrap my arms around her and she squeezes back.

“Thank you, for everything. I love you.”

Grief: Four and a Half Years Out.

Why does it seem like every time I come to write here it feels like forever since the last time that I have? Maybe because it has been.

In the last few weeks, I’ve turned a whole year older, started back college classes, and am working full time. So, technically I haven’t had a lot of time to write, but I’m missing it. My goal for twenty-seven (how old I am) was to blog three times a week. Guys, I already failed! But, you can always start fresh.

The last time I wrote, I shared that I started back with therapy. I’m still going strong with it and it’s been helping in a lot of ways. In others, I still have a lot of work. Rome wasn’t built in a day though. Therapy has given me a lot to think about: past traumas, my grief, and my future. I should say, it’s given me constructive ways to think about all of it. Anxiety forces you to think of all those things, but I’m starting to see how I can still function and think about those things too.

Two weeks ago, I sort of had a full circle moment. My therapist and I are going through my trauma timeline. It sounds a lot more… scary… than it actually is. It’s still a little scary though. On that particular day, we talked about Jensen.

I found out… it’s still really hard to talk about the events of that day and the weeks following.

Duh, right? You don’t just wake up one day and are completely healed when your child dies. It doesn’t work like that. Shouting that to everyone that thinks it does. I’ve told Jensen’s story to so many times: out loud, writing it down, and in my head. Earlier in my grief, I was getting more comfortable with used to talking about his death and all my emotions after to other people. It’s been a little while since I have and I didn’t realize how big of a difference it was.

When my therapist asked if I was alright sharing about Jensen, his death, and how I handled things after, I told her yes with no inkling that I would be… weeping during it all. Yes, weeping.

I told her about my pregnancy and how hard it was emotionally on me. When we got to the day we found out he died, I went into detail about how my stomach just dropped and it felt like I was dead inside. I skipped around on the actual details of the birth because I felt my throat closing up. The post emotions of his birth and funeral and life after were hard to talk about too. It was just so difficult to bring back all those feelings and put myself back in that place again. That talk and just thinking about how traumatic his death was and still is has really.. re-affected me?

So many times parents are told they’re going to be better with time after losing their child. I’m not going to disagree in the fact that everyday life gets easier. It does. Your routine changes and life still goes on. That sounds harsh and I wouldn’t have wanted to hear that in the first few months after, but it’s true (for me). I think when outside people see parents after loss reemerging into their routine or job or whatever, they think it’s all ‘better.’ On the outside, they’re complying with society and not being outwardly upset.

For me, I can see my switch. I have to do what I have to do to work and do school and parent Mila and whatever else may need done. When I’m out in the world, I’m not as quick to snap that my son’s dead to people that say things. I’m more aware that the world isn’t really… sensitive to dead babies or uncomfortable grief. It’s not a settling thing at all, so I get that. I don’t bring Jensen up in every conversation anymore. When someone leaves him out or forgets him, I internalize it. I still feel the hurt, but I try to make others feel.. better.

BUT (!!!) it still hurts. I’m functional, but I still miss Jensen with every ounce of me.

I can tell you certain comments sting and having someone not mention or forget about him feels so awful. Talking about it all with my therapist made me realize what I (and so many people) went through was the worst thing ever.

The silence. The decisions. The hollowness. The tears. The solitude. The grief.

I think I got into the routine of being a mom to Mila and life, that I put those emotions on the back burner. I let the outside, ‘it gets better,’ get to me. Letting everyone else be comfortable in my child dying has put my real emotions, trauma, and heartbreak in an unaccessible place; until it has to come up.

Through the teary session and the last two weeks, I’ve definitely given myself more credit for all I’ve endured through losing Jensen. Our minds try to protect itself from all that pain. I’m thankful for that, truly. I guess I just wanted to say through this whole thing is I miss him and I’m proud of where I am today.

I think it’s also been a productive thing to feel all of these emotions again. Jensen would be starting preschool this year, which I haven’t talked about with anyone. I’ve been suppressing a lot of things lately (thanks exhaustion). Sharing Jensen with someone new and showing my love for him and how I care for him now has helped this stage of healing. I know I’ll always feel this emotional response when talking about him and it’s okay. It’s okay to be sad he’s not here, just like it’s okay to celebrate his life.

There isn’t a rule book about losing a baby or child at any age. If you haven’t been through it, you know nothing about it. That loss and hole in your heart doesn’t get easier, it just gets lighter to carry through time.

Here’s Jensen’s story if you’ve never read it or would like to read it again. I wrote it in 2016 and have been thinking about rewriting it again to see how I remember it almost five years out. If I do, you can bet I’ll share it here.

How Does That Make You Feel? cont.

Yesterday, I shared a post on Newsymom about how I started going to therapy again.

It is DIFFICULT to talk about therapy. I grew thinking it was a hush hush thing and only people that were deranged went. Obviously, that’s far from the case. What’s funny is that this blog originally was about Jensen and documenting stillbirth, grief, and my journey after loss. Like life, it’s taken different directions and I try to write about what makes me smile.

I’ve sort of backed myself in a strange corner. There was a point where I felt like I couldn’t express my grief anymore and the other… ‘troubling’ things in my life weren’t allowed to be expressed either. I talked about what I could and what I felt others were comfortable with. I guess that’s the type of person I am… trying to make others feel comfortable while putting myself on the back burner. Hello HUGE topic I talk about with my therapist. I’ve been thinking about making a schedule for this blog and delving into other things besides the light and happy. Not for anyone else, but for myself and to continue my healing journey.

Anyways, I think it’s a mix of where I’m at in my grief journey, parenting Mila, and what’s being reintroduced in therapy. I felt like I needed to share my new experience with talking to a professional and how it looks different this time around. There are three big factors I can instantly tell that are being more impactful already.

1. The right person.

There was nothing wrong with my therapist beforehand. She helped me in so many ways with the initial year after losing Jensen. I have no idea where my headspace would have been without her helping me along the way. But, it got to a point where I felt like I couldn’t really connect with her anymore and, like some relationships, our time just ended.

This time, I feel extremely connected to my therapist. I’m unsure if it’s the way we talk (I’ll get into this in a second), how she’s helped make deeper connections with me, or if our personalities just click. It feels like she really listens and puts the way I think first. When I’m talking, I don’t feel like I’m boring her and she reacts the way I need her to. I feel like that sounds so basic, but it’s hard when trying to find those things in a therapist,

I think life has a way of bringing us the right people and I’m glad I’ve found her.

2. Being 100% honest.

I’m unsure if I’m the only person that wasn’t completely honest with my therapist. Four years ago, I was not honest with my therapist if it wasn’t directly related to my grief with losing Jensen. That sounds AWFUL, but directly ties in finding the right therapist. I can remember telling half truths or leaving our important information. It impacted how my healing went and was detrimental because I couldn’t even be honest with myself during the time I really needed to be.

This time around, I made myself accountable. I told my therapist I had a hard time of telling the whole truth my first go with therapy. My main reason was not wanting to look bad and not being trusting of another person. I straight up told my therapist that what I’m going to say in the next months of working with her aren’t always going to be… good. In saying that, I told her I wanted to trust her and get myself to a better place.

During my sessions, I’m really working. I’m being honest with myself and her. Sometimes it’s hard to say certain things out loud, but I know it’s best. I don’t always feel my best right after our hour, but I know I’m getting back what I put into this time.

3. A happy space.

Besides the two reasons I stated before, the biggest difference is I’m not actually leaving my house to talk to my therapist. I downloaded an app (BetterHelp) so I can text, call, and video chat with my therapist. Every week, I directly talk to her for an hour and I can message her anytime I need to on other days.

There’s no awkward waiting rooms and I’m not in an unfamiliar place. I can be in the comfort of my home and not feel like i’m doing the walk of shame after I cry for an hour. Being able to communicate on the phone is also more familiar… not saying I don’t talk to others face-to-face, but you get what I mean. On top of that, with COVID, I don’t have to worry about the precautions I’d have to take by going to an appointment. I can also talk to her while Mila watches TV and am not stressing if I can’t find a babysitter on certain nights.

It allows me to have the freedom to talk in my safe and happy space, while getting the help I deserve.

I’ll never say I know everything about therapy or can tell you it most definitely will help your situation. I know that it’s helped me and I’m not ready to stop anytime soon. There’s a deep tugging that is telling me by doing this I’m helping my future and stopping so many traumatic cycles. In my Newsymom article, I wanted others to know that it’s okay to choose to go to therapy. I want to echo that same sentiment here too.

I deserve to be happy and mentally healthy. I can’t change the things that have or will happen, but I get to decide how I handle them. I wish that for everyone.

If you’re thinking about signing up for therapy or want to browse different options, if you’d like to use BetterHelp, use this referral. You get a week free and so do I. I highly recommend BetterHelp and you can find a ton of information on their website.

Weird Things My Toddler Does: Part Five.

I think we already know two things about toddlers: they’re weird and they love to snack.

Mila is no different.

Usually when she wakes up in the morning, she runs and gets a fruit snack to chomp on. It’s been our routine for weeks. So the other morning when she went to the kitchen to grab a snack, I thought I was going to have to open her fruit snacks up for her. Instead, I heard a dragging sound…

This girl brought a whole bucket of chicken to bed to eat. Not your usual morning snack, right?

After a good laugh, she ran out for something else. I’m partly blaming myself and laziness for not putting things away the night before…

Chicken and a coke. What more could a girl want when she first wakes up? Thankfully, all the coke was gone, but she did eat a bunch.

Toddlers are hungry and weird, but I wouldn’t have it any different.

What’s the weirdest thing you or your toddler has snacked on first thing in the morning?

Monday Recipe: Kielbasa Power Bowl

On Instagram, I noticed this hashtag: #quarantinerecipeswap. So many people are running out of ideas of what to cook next and want to revamp their meals for the month. Believe me, Mila and I are right there too!

Today, I figured I’d share one of the easiest and tastiest recipes I make frequently: a Kielbasa Power Bowl. It can be converted to what you have on hand AND made meatless. Honestly, it’s a pretty simple recipe and seems really basic. Sometimes, that’s all we need though!

Ingredients:

  • One Package of Kielbasa (or a can of chickpeas if you want it meatless)
  • Two Medium Sweet Potatoes
  • 1/2 Yellow Onion
  • Head of Broccoli
  • 2 Medium Peppers (whatever color you like best)
  • 1/4 cup Quinoa
  • Cheese – to sprinkle
  • Balsamic Glaze
  • Olive Oil
  • Spices: salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, Italian seasoning

Feel free to use whatever veggies you have on hand. I typically have all of these at my house. Mila loves broccoli and peppers, so it works out for us. I’ve also made it with carrots, brussels sprouts, and zucchini!

First, preheat your over to 400. Then get to cutting. Everyone has their cutting preference, but this is how I do it. Everything is really ‘eatable’ and not too big. Then I take the veggies and put them in a bowl. I get a coating of olive oil and the mix of seasoning on there. Make sure everything’s covered and put it in a baking pan. After your oven is preheated, put the veggies in there for 10-15 minutes. Put the kielbasa in the same bowl with olive oil and seasoning and wait to add in later.

Then, start boiling water (or broth) for your quinoa. Rinse the quinoa off in a small strainer, or you can do what I do and rinse it off to the best of your abilities without one. It’s always a fun challenges You can follow the packaging directions, but I usually just double the amount of liquid to quinoa. Sometimes I add more, depending on how it cooks. When the water starts boiling, pour your rinsed quinoa in the pot, and turn down the heat some. Stir every so often. It doesn’t take too long to cook; maybe 15 minutes. While it’s cooking, I usually add some spices to taste! After that time, remove from heat, let it stand for about 5-10 minutes and fluff it with a fork.

In the middle of cooking quinoa, your timer will go off for the veggies. Take them out and add the kielbasa in. Give it all a good mix. Put it in for another ten minutes. I usually then take it out, mix everything up once more and stick it in the over another 5-10 minutes too.

Once everything’s cooked and cooled, assemble!

I usually start with the quinoa on the bottom, then lay the kielbasa and veggie mix on top. To add a little something with it, Mila asks for cheese on top (which makes it better, I’ll admit) and ill drizzle balsamic glaze on top. If I have avocados, I’ll slice some for on top as well.

It’s truly an easy meal that’s packed with veggies and taste so good! Mila, Miss Picky Eater lately, are her whole bowl.

I hope you enjoy this recipe and try it soon! This week I’ll make a new recipe and share how it goes with you guys. If you have any recipes to share for the swap, comment below and I’ll try them out!

Mom Fail: Cooking Edition

I’d like to start off saying, this is not switching into a cooking blog. Every post lately has been revolved around food and I’m planning on a recipe post for Monday… oops. It just so happened this one directly linked to food too.

When I woke up this morning, I thought, what a great day for blueberry pancakes. We slept in a little bit and already did our morning routine. Mila and Max has played while I did some things on the computer; the morning was just relaxing. It just like a perfect brunch type of day. I mean, look how peaceful Mila looks in that picture.

Since you’ve most likely read the title of the post, you know there’s something bound to happen…

Mila is the best helper. She loves mixing batters and handing my ingredients when I cook. While I’m cooking, she likes to stir the food and cheers. It’s cute and surprisingly, there’s only been minor messes lately.

For our pancakes, she held the cup while I poured in the dry ingredients, kissed the egg, and already had the work ready to mix it all up. After everything was in there, I beat the egg and had it pretty well mixed and let her continue while I cleaned up.

As I turned to my kitchen counter, I heard a quick ‘uh oh’ and then a clang. All while this was happening, I turned to Mila to make sure she was okay. Then it literally hit me.

She had accidentally dropped the bowl and as I so happened to turn, the bowl hit the ground sending batter all over me and the surrounding area. Mila miraculously was pancake batter free.

Fortunately, there was some batter still in the bowl. It was just enough to make us a few pancakes. So not a completely fail, right?

Mom Tip of the Week: Pasta Edition

Once upon a time, Mila was an amazing eater. She would try anything put in front of her and clear her plate. That time is now gone.

Somedays, I’m excited if she eats a handful of nuts and some dry cereal for the whole day. Others, she eats everything in sight so I keep giving her more to store up for other days. It’s a constant battle in toddler world.

Anyways, one staple for Mila is pasta and red sauce with a ton of cheese; she’d eat a bag of cheese a day if I let her. I think she likes it causes it the messiest thing she can possibly eat. It does taste good too, but… One thing I’ve learned to do to sneak some protein in there and fill her (and me) up with less pasta is adding beans.

Beans can sometimes be intimating to cook with or introduce, but when added with pasta, red sauce, and cheese, you don’t even notice them in there. They’re such an amazing source of protein and, again, you can’t taste them.

Before adding them into the pasta, I usually put salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, and onion and garlic powder to it. It just spices it up a little.

That’s what it ends up looking liked when it’s mixed. Obviously you can see them in there super up close, but when you’re enjoying dinner (and have a mountain of cheese on it if you’re Mila) it’s just like a typical bowl of pasta.

It’s Mila approved in our house and I’m interested to see if it’s toddler approved across the board. Next time you have pasta, try this little mom tip and let me know how it works for you.

Weird Things My Toddler Does: Part Four.

This may not look like a weird thing, but it’s the strangest to me.

Since Mila was first born, she’s HATED sitting in the car seat and she still does. She would scream until we got to our destination; nothing would calm her down. It made driving not so fun and I’ve been waiting for her to ‘grow out of it.’

Turns out, all I needed to do was bring it inside. I was looking for her for ten minutes and didn’t even think to check the car seat, but there she sat.

Maybe next time she faces her comfy chair in the car, she’ll remember it’s not so bad.

Toddlers are weird.