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.

Road Trip Tic Tac Toe

Ever since I’ve been a little girl, we’ve been on vacation for Memorial Day weekend. One way to make the road trips go faster were games.

I love that family has been able to take the same trip with Mila too. Besides last year of course. It’s so sentimental that I get to see Mila enjoy the same place I did growing up. Plus, she LOVES the beach.

I was a little nervous for the road trip with a three year old, so I remembered our games. This year, Mila has been into tic tac toe, so we made it road trip friendly!

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • A baking sheet
  • Bottle/milk caps
  • Washi tape
  • Magnets
  • An amazing road trip!

This is a simple activity to put together. Let’s just say you’ll have more time teaching your toddler the game.

All you do is put a tic tac toe board with washi tape on the baking sheet.

Then, use peel and stick magnets to put on the inside of caps. This way they can easily stick on your tic tac toe board without you losing them! You can also use other magnets with a hot glue gun.

After that, it’s time to play!

We used a mason jar to keep all the caps in one place, but you could just as easily slip the whole baking sheet in the back of the seat.

This was so easy to use in the car. It withstood passing it back and forth with my crazy toddler.

I also loved that we were able to reuse bottle caps and didn’t have to buy a special board. Once we’re done with it, I’ll just take the tape off, wash it, and clean with the baking sheet again.

Although, I think it might be tricky to take away from her since she likes the game so much!

Let me know in the comments what games you played during your family road trips? Do you kids like different ones?

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?

Toddler Activity: Fruit Flower Art

Two of our favorite parts of spring are the flowers and fresh fruit! Since we love playing with our food, we were inspired to paint our favorite spring things.

Mila has painted with different foods before. It’s always fun watching her experiment with how the paint works with random objects. Even more fun, is how it all turns out at the end.

For this project, we ate a fruit salad for breakfast and then used the tops for her artwork. It was a way to reduce waste and be creative all in one.

Try saving some of your fruit scraps and try this flower painting out.

Here’s all you’ll need:

This activity is really simple to set up.

All you need to do is prep your fruits, get a painting space, and pour paint. Your child will figure out the rest as they paint.

For Mila, I asked her if she wanted to paint flowers and we looked at the ones in our yard.

Since we practiced the parts of flowers, she kept telling me which part of the flower she was painting. It’s amazing how much little ones remember! She also kept telling me the apples made bigger flowers and the strawberries made smaller ones.

I absolutely love watching the world Thats in her head come alive on a canvas. She’s always telling a story when she paints too.

We make sure to ‘sign’ and date the back of every painting she does. One day I’ll need to get a huge storage box for all of her paintings. For now, they’re decorated all throughout my house.

With these paintings, you can have your child paint whatever they’d like. Mila just loves flowers and it’s perfect for springtime.

I think she did an amazing job!

What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever painted with and what do you think Mila and I should try next?

If you’re into playing with your food, but just prefer eating it, check out these recipes from other mamas. I’m sure you’ll love them!

Toddler Activity: Birdhouse Motel

Mila and I love watching birds in our backyard. After making DIY bird feeders, we thought it’d be fun to expand their spot on the tree. We created what I like to call a little birdhouse motel.

If you didn’t know, birds hold a special place in my heart. They remind me of Jensen and whenever I see a red or blue bird, I feel as if it’s him saying, “hello mom!” There are also birds on his urn. For some reason, his urn called out to me. It felt like it was a freeing image and after that, birds just felt right to celebrate him with. With that being said, we really welcome them in our backyard.

I’ve been looking at different birdhouses to purchase, but have been so busy I’ve forgotten to order one. Thanks mom brain! When I last went to the dollar store, I found two little kits, so I had to buy them. Then I figured we could reuse something at home too.

Not everything has to look perfect or expensive, it still turns out cute when made with love.

Here’s what we used for our birdhouse motel:

As I said before, if I could do this again, I probably would have ordered a different birdhouse kit. Yet, this one worked out perfectly because it wasn’t so big that Mila lost interest.

For the kits, I followed the instructions on the back of the package.

Honestly, I threw away the wood glue and went straight to my hot glue gun. It went a lot quicker! If you’re up for the challenge and have the patience, you could try the wood glue.

After the hot glue was dried, Mila and I each painted one of the mini birdhouses.

She wanted to pick out the colors and of course chose purple and pink. They’re truly her go to colors! It makes me laugh that most of the crafts and artwork in our house are bright and girly. Let’s hope the birds like it too!

While Mila continued to paint her birdhouse (which she did all by herself!), I cut out a big chunk of the juice carton and then washed it out. I also cut two holes across the top to pull string through to hang. It would have really helped if I had done this before I painted, but… I forgot!

Afterwards, I ended up painted it black (against Mila’s wishes) with a purple little heart on it. When it was dried, I pulled the string through and tied a knot.

When the kits were done, I also tied the string and hung them all together.

Mila went to find some grass, small sticks, and a little bit of bird seed to welcome in our new friends. It was so cute seeing which objects she thought the birds would like. If I were them, I’d feel right at home!

I can’t wait until we can get more birdhouses and maybe do another DIY.

These two were simple enough for us to do it in an evening. As she gets older, we can definitely do more complicated things. For now, she’s in love with our birdhouse motel. I am so proud of how well she painted and worked on her little project.

Now we get to wait to see who decides to move in and benefit from the motel. Hopefully different types of birds will visit and maybe even a bluebird or two. Fingers crossed!

What’s your favorite type of bird? Let me know in the comments.

If you love birdhouses and want some other inspiration to do a DIY one, check out what these moms have done.

Mommy Recipe: Strawberry Lemonade Mimosa

Summer is quickly approaching and so are weekend brunches. Change up your mimosa game with this Strawberry Lemonade Mimosa. It’ll cool you down, without the overbearing champagne taste.

I love this combination and figured I’d try to make a mimosa with it. It’s a light drink and the Italian ice elevates it even more.

This drink would be perfect for a mimosa bar or anything brunch!

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Champagne
  • Strawberry Lemonade
  • Strawberry Italian Ice
  • Pink Sugar
  • Fresh Strawberry

First, coat the rim of your flute by cutting a strawberry and putting it around the rim. Then, pour some sugar on a plate. To coat, just roll the rim around the sugar.

Next, put your Italian ice in the bottom of the cup.

Then, fill your flute to your discretion with champagne. It’s really up to you how much champagne you’d like. I’m not one to limit your drinking (haha). Then fill the rest up with the strawberry lemonade. Again, it’s up to you how much you want to drink.

While I was making this drink, Mila was obsessed with the pink salt and the bubbles. So, I threw together this little mix for her too. It’d be great for other littles too.

The Kid Version:

  • Strawberry Lemonade
  • Strawberry Italian Ice
  • Pink Salt
  • Fresh Strawberry
  • Carbonated water

This little spin on a classic mimosa is great for strawberry lemonade lovers and is just perfect for summer months too. The champagne taste isn’t too strong and it tastes really great. Being creative with drinks can be so much fun!

I absolutely loved making Mila one too. She felt like a ‘big kid’ and it was so easy to make her special drink.

Next time, I’d love to try a grapefruit mimosa. I’ll share when i do.

What’s your favorite type of mimosa?

Toddler Activity: Dino Dance!

Happy National Dinosaur Day! To celebrate, Mila wanted to share her one of her favorite books and dinosaur activity: Dino Dance!

Mila has just now taken an interest in dinosaurs. Books about them have really helped broaden her imagination about them. We also have a few great dinosaur toys that she loves playing with. When we went to the zoo, there was a dinosaur there so she was able to understand they were huge. She’s been asking about them since.

Dino Dance! hands down is her favorite way to look at dinosaurs and think about movement. She loves to dance, so when she saw that dinosaurs danced too, it helped her connect.

Plus, it helped create a fun little activity too.

Normally, we read books over and over again (oh the toddler stage). Instead of just sitting and reading some, we find ways to act them out. Dino Dance! gives us the dance moves to do, while learning too!

We took our learning outside and Mila showed me her dino moves.

Her favorite was the ‘cha cha cha’ move and the t rex stomp! It was also so fun to watch her come up with her own interpretations of the dance moves. We ended up dancing and singing along with the book for a little while. While dancing their moves, I had her say the dinosaurs names too.

Mila asked me to show her how I would do certain dance moves too! It was great to mimic each other and see how we both were creative.

In one little book, there was a ton of learning! From dinosaur names to being creative, Dino Dance! is a great way to introduce your child to dinosaurs.

It also sparked other conversations about dinosaurs. We have other books that have more realistic descriptions and images of dinosaurs. To make a connection, I remind her of the dinosaurs dance moves in the one book and show her in the other. I can’t wait to take her to see the dinosaurs in the Columbus Zoo soon!

Another dinosaur song Mila loves right now is from Blippi. Whenever she has screen time, she asks to watch his channel. So, The Dinosaur Song has been a great way for her to learn about dinosaurs while dancing and watching her favorite show too.

If you’re looking for other fun activities from creative moms and their kids, check them out here:

Strawberry Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe

One of the best and most classic desserts are chocolate chip cookies. They’re gooey and make you feel all warm inside. Up until now, I didn’t think they could get any better, until we added one ingredient: strawberries.

This new to us recipe is one I HAD to share with everyone, especially before National Chocolate Chip Day. Not only did we enjoy the finished results, Mila had a blast making these too.

Maybe a little too much fun with the extra flour!

Anyways, here’s what you’ll need to make these delicious cookies:

  • 2 1/4 cups of flour
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 stick of unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 3/4 cup of brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup of chopped strawberries
  • 1 cup of chocolate chips

Before making the cookie dough, preheat the oven to 370 F. Then line two large baking sheets with wax or parchment paper.

In a medium size bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

Next, in a large mixing bowl, use your mixer to cream the butter, sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla extract. I let my butter warm up a little bit to help it cream. Honestly, I just popped it in the microwave for 20 seconds.

Then, add eggs in one at a time. Mix in between eggs.

After it’s mixed, slowly add the flour mixture in. Just mix it until combined and don’t over mix.

Once you get a good dough consistency, fold in strawberries and chocolate chips. I used a spatula for this.

Now it’s time to place them on the cooking sheet. You can use an ice cream or cookie scoop to help with this part. I just used my hands and made little balls. It was way easier for me this way than using a spoon or anything.

Then, place in the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Rotate the cookie sheet after and place back in the oven for 4-6 more minutes. Your cookies should have holden brown on their edges.

Once it’s done, remove from the oven and let them cool down… or not.

We enjoyed these cookies a little too much. I have a feeling it’ll be a recipe we make over and over again.

Let me know in the comments if you end up trying this recipe… you most definitely should!

Check out these other chocolate chip creations too: