BIG NEWS!

Without lots of pressure from me, Mila has finally decided to start using the potty!

After a few months of her yelling NO anytime I mentioned using the potty, she finally told me she needed to pee. Then ran to get her potty and went.

After she showed me that she went, we did a dance, high-five’d, and said yay about a thousand times! She’s so proud of herself, and I’m so proud of her! Hopefully she keeps it up and within a few weeks we’ll be done with diapers.

The last time we really tried potty training was last summer; she’d rip her diaper off and go. She had zero interest in sitting, but it did bring a lot of funny moments. Hopefully this go she’ll just keep her momentum, plus have a few laughs here and there too.

I’ll just be over here celebrating her potty journey (aka poop and pee) with her. Parenting is so weird.

My Minutes with Jensen.

I still screenshot every time I see 11:11 pop up on my phone.

After almost FOUR years, it’s still Jensen’s way of saying hello; amongst many others. I take that moment and just look at his face and tap it to my own. It might not be every day, twice a day this time jumps out at me, but it is most of them. I imagine he’s right next to me and I feel a sense calm fall over me.

When I look through the screenshots on my phone, a good amount of them are of Jensen with 11:11 over his head. Four years of screenshots and countless minutes that were just him and I even after he’s been gone.

Recently, I saw an Instagram post from another loss mom that described how it was hard to write about their child now than it was when it was still so raw. I found myself agreeing with everything she said. During that first year and a half, words flowed so easily. I tried my best to put what I was feeling into words and it helped. It helped me heal and remember Jensen in the best way I could.

Since Mila’s been born, it has been hard to write. She fills my day and each time I think I get a minute to write, she either wakes up or finds my laptop extremely interesting to inspect. The words seem to still come to me but get stuck in my head. They jumble up, and when I go to actually get them out, they stop flowing like before.

It’s so hard being without him. Even when it feels like Mila and I are doing good, I know he’s missing. He’ll always be missing and that fact will always make my little family feel incomplete.

I wish I could finish those blog posts that I’ve tried so many times to write. About when I found the notes to Jensen and me from his baby shower or how I already feel the weight of my grief crashing down as April draws nearer.

I really can’t believe he’s going to be four. Just knowing how much I’ve missed out on all things Jensen for four years. I wish I knew his likes and what movie he’d have Mila and me watching 800 times. I wish I could see him be a big brother for Mila and play all day, every day with her. I wish I could hold him tight and never let him go.

Gosh, I miss him.

Anytime I hear Usher, I think of Jensen’s movements. I think of seeing him on the ultrasound screen and watching him cover his face when the wand was over him for too long. I think about this time four years ago about how excited I was to meet him, wondering what kind of mom I was going to be. Now it feels like I’m always waiting for those moments I thought I was going to get with him.

In some ways, I think he still gives me the moments I needed. That’s why I have hundreds of screenshots of 11:11 and the feeling of him giving me an Eskimo kiss during that minute.

For Mama.

One of my top priorities in raising Mila is to make sure she becomes a decent human.

I always tell her please and thank you so she can catch on and do the same. When she does something ‘wrong,’ I explain what could happen and tell her other ways to do something. If she spills something, I have her help me clean up. When she plays with Max or other kids, I encourage her to share. I do my best to try and model the behavior I want her to pick up.

Most days, I worry I’m not doing good enough. She only has me to look up to at home and I’m no where near perfect. I can lose my patience and need a minute to just sit with my thoughts. There are times I raise my voice, then go to her to give the biggest hug and tell her I’m sorry.

I’m a human and I know none of us are perfect, so I’m aiming to be decent and for her to grow up the same.

Mila is nearing TWO! Crazy, right? She’s full force in all things toddler and sometimes I wonder if anything I’m trying to teach her is sticking. Either way, I wanted to celebrate her and my love for her on Valentine’s Day. I got her all the chocolate, a book, flowers, and a HUGE unicorn. She was ecstatic and loved everything.

All she kept saying was OOOHHHH with the most amazing smile. When she realized I was going to let her eat a piece of chocolate before breakfast (gasp), she quickly asked me to unwrap one.

Instead of digging into it, she grabbed another piece.

You haven’t even ate the first piece, Mila. You don’t need two!

Then, as if she was confused why I said anything, she held out the piece of chocolate to me.

For mama. 

Two little words melted my heart. So, I unwrapped a piece for me and took a bite. After she saw me take a bite, she smiled and took a big one herself.

That was the moment I realized everything’s going to be okay. All my fears of not doing good enough for her or not being all she needs went away. She has no idea how much her words and actions affect me. And I don’t give myself enough credit for what mine do for her.


As much as I wanted to leave this on a heartwarming note… I had to show you Mila’s latest reaction to certain “smelly” things. She always knows how to make those around her laugh and smile.

I give up…

I give up.

This was my house after breakfast yesterday morning…

What’s easy to see is Mila licking an almost empty yogurt container, trying to get that last little bit out. Max is laying down on the tent that just looks like it was laying there. A dirty towel lays besides her table, crumbled from use, and the floor… is a mess.

The unseen is where the story behind this picture is way more thrilling. Before the crumbled towel was thrown on the floor, Mila had a full cup of chocolate milk. She refused to let me help her out so it all fell on the floor. While I was trying to clean it up, Mila decided Max was hungry for yogurt and decided to share. Max was napping in the tent, but is always down for getting a snack. When I came back from the laundry room, yogurt covered the floor, tent, Max, and was all through Mila’s hair. As I wiped up the floor, Max and Mila pushed the tent down and when she realized he ate the majority of the yogurt, she started scavenging.

That’s when I just sat down, took a picture, and decided to give up.

My house is never clean anymore. I’m constantly picking up after the two of them and after I think I have everything decent, there’s another mess. Mila gets dressed (with a bow) every morning, but decides she needs multiple outfit changes throughout the day. I cook food for her and I; mostly all of hers goes to him. When I try to work or do school things, I have my little shadow trying to help It feels like I can never get anything done.

But when I was sitting there watching this scene unfold, I realized I needed to give up.

Give up wishing I was the woman with the picture perfect house.

Give up wishing Mila and I always looked 100% presentable

Give up wishing I accomplished more in a day.

Give up unrealistic expectations I put on myself.

This motherhood things is HARD and we put so much on ourselves. Honestly, I’d rather have the memories of watching yogurt fly everywhere and my living room be filled with laughter, than a clean room with Mila being afraid to make a mess.

I don’t know when this season of life will end, but I know it’ll come too soon. Toddlerhood has been a gift for me. Yes, it’s challenging and has tested me, but all the joy it has brought is worth it all.

Mila ended up having to take a bath before noon and splashed ALL the water out of the tub, but she was smiling. I wouldn’t trade that smile or being her mom for the world.

A Reminder that Healing Takes Time.

I’ll never forget this time last year.

My life had changed again and in a way I didn’t expect. I was hurt and confused and wondered how everything would turn out. Even though inside of me was going crazy, I had to keep everything together on the outside: for Mila and me.

It’s funny because in the beginning of the month I knew these memories would come back to me. If I learned anything from Jensen’s death, I learned how I grieve and heal. So although this was different experience, I still lost a big part of my life and myself. Mila lost a huge part of herself too and she’ll never get that back.

For months, I sort of put everything on myself. I was angry and upset. It wasn’t until the last few weeks, where I actually talked about my trauma and described it to other people where I realized how messed up everything was/is. Honestly, I can say, I’m healing and on the right track. I’m choosing not to put myself in vulnerable and damaging situations. This sounds like such an easy and clear minded thing for someone to do, but it’s been such a journey for me.

I saw this picture today and started crying…

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Last year I posted this on Facebook and Instagram with the caption:

Happy to be ME

Let me tell you, people are facing battles that they hide from the world. I can’t imagine my world without Mila’s ability to brighten any room she’s in with her smile or never hearing her laugh. No matter what she faces or who tries to bring her down, I hope she remembers that she continues touring me happens I never thought I’d have again.

I’ll never forget that day and how I felt. I was told that Mila wasn’t important and that person didn’t want to do anything for her or know anything about her. She was nothing. It was hard completely breaking down in front of her, when she was just trying to make me laugh. I can’t tell you how infuriating and heartbreaking it is to hear that about your own child. Obviously I know not everything thinks the world of Mila like I do. She’s one of the many children of the world, but in her own way she is special just like every other child.

But reading those messages and feeling that hurt in the pit of my stomach. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone either.

Last year, I heard more of this stuff about Mila and my mothering. I was told to put her up for adoption because I wasn’t a good enough mom. She’s been made into a bargaining piece and not valued as the person she is. All kinds of things were said and I listened. I internalized it all and let it surface when things pop up.

People face battles that they hide from the world. I said that last year and it’s still true to this day. No one can be completely transparent about their lives; it’s just impossible.

All I can say is, I’ll never let Mila be a game piece or let anyone steal her or her smile away. Never, ever, ever, ever.

But let me tell you, I’ve grown since last year and gotten so much stronger. I know when I look back on pictures taken this year, I won’t look back and feel sadness.

Progress is the best thing about growth and healing.

 

She tried to forget him, but never could…

Last year, I wanted to sort of take my blog into different directions. I write a lot to heal offline and I wanted to bring it online; mostly because I know it helps others.

So here is me in 2020, branching out and sharing things that are sort of vulnerable to share. We had to write a little blurb for one of my classes this semester, I turned it into a short story, and I thought it needed to be shared. Hopefully you guys enjoy!

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One Text: A Modern Love Story

She tried to forget him, but never could.

He was always there, right in the back of her mind. Last year, she promised herself that it was over. The mentally abusive nature of the relationship only put her in a dark space. She had crawled out of it many times, but she felt it pulling her down once more.

“I heard our song on the radio today,” the text read.

Instantly, she heard the melody and the lyrics out of thin air. There was no need to specify what song he had been talking about. It was the only one that still took her breath away and let her memories come forth.

The night they danced in the middle of his kitchen to this song played out in her mind. Things were lighter then; the damage hadn’t fully been done. They held each other close as the first notes started on this song. She rested her head in the close to his neck and he rest his lips on the top of her head. He would whisper the words to her like he was telling her a secret. She would smile and hang on to the sound of his low voice.

Her eyes never closed during this dance. She took in his dimly lit house and saw through the big, bay window that his neighbors were having a fire. Instead of being embarrassed they might be watching, she smiled because he wasn’t afraid to show her off in that moment. The smell of their beer from after dinner hung in the air and her whole body was electrified from his touch. This night felt perfect and she wished it could be every night of her life.

She snapped back to the present. A single tear was falling down her cheek. It was months since she last heard from him and she truly starting to feel some kind of peace in her life. He had hurt her beyond repair and there was no apology that could make everything all better. She knew this was just a part of his game, yet all she wanted to do was text him back.

It was easier for her to focus on those moments she never felt more alive than the ones that had crippled her. She had to force herself to remember all the nights she cried herself to sleep and all the bad thoughts he made her think.

“Maybe it’ll be different this time,” she whispered as she started typing.

Thoughts on Taking a Toddler to the Dentist.

A couple months ago, I noticed something up with two of Mila’s teeth. I could’ve sworn they were cavities, but it didn’t make sense that she would have them so young. Or the fact I’m sort of crazy about making sure her teeth are brushed and she takes her fluoride supplement each day. I mean, don’t get me wrong… she drinks juice and has sweets every so often, but not enough to damage her teeth, right?

Since this summer, I’ve been keeping a closer eye on them and they haven’t gotten better.  I’ve honestly had sleepless nights researching what to do for her and how I could do better for her dental health. It’s been a sore subject for me and I know how silly that sounds. I do my best for Mila everyday and I’ve felt like I’ve failed her teeth.

So, last week, I decided to finally call and make an appointment with a dentist. FIRST OFF, it is difficult to find an office to take a child under two to get their teeth checked and potentially worked on. With determination, I did find someone. Thankfully, they were able to get Mila in almost immediately.

Then the anxiety hit.

I thought the dentist would think I was a bad parent. I thought Mila would scream the entire time. I thought they would have to pull her teeth as soon as we walked in. I thought the appointment would be anything but good.

Fast forward to the day of the appointment (Monday), I have to wake Mila up from her nap to get her to the appointment on time. Snow is falling and it’s way too cold for anyone to be going to the dentist. My mom, Mila, and I file our way into reception and they are greeted with a very grumpy toddler.

After checking in, Mila goes to explore her surroundings, but finds herself at a loss when she isn’t able to go in the back. For a little while, she just laid on the ground, protesting to cooperate. I can’t say I blame her as the minutes ticked by during our wait. Finally she gets distracted by the snow and eventually mama cuddles.

Once we’re called back, Mila decides to cheer up and let her happy presence be known to everyone she passes. When we get back to our little area, the anxiety for me starts to set in again. While Mila played with the dentist’s ‘toys,’ I just kept picturing having to pin her down while they pulled all her teeth.

Yes, my brain is so amazing at producing vivid images at the worst possible times. Thank you brain for giving me that beautiful gift.

While waiting, again, Mila discovers she can see inside the room beside us. She sees a family getting their teeth cleaned. At first, she thought she was just crashing on their nap, she soon discovered they were doing anything but going ‘night-night.’ The dentist tools whirled and made so many noises in the other person’s mouth. I wish I could have listened to Mila’s thoughts while watching this somewhat horrifying event for her, take place. The good news was, I didn’t need to hear her thoughts, I could just look at the pure confusion (and slight terror?) on her face. Her big, compassionate heart kept prompting to ask my mom and I if they were okay. I don’t think she believed us, at all.

She then made herself comfortable on ‘the chair.’ The dental assistant soon came and tried to brush Mila’s teeth. She was welcomed with a firm no. I was happy my girl could stand her ground, but terrified knowing what came next.

It all led up to this moment. Mila’s dentist came to check her teeth. She was somewhat intimidated by this man, but weirdly laid down to let him see her teeth. He had me lay her down across me and hold her arms. Her head was placed in his lap and as he tried to brush her teeth and put some kind of coating over them, she awkwardly laughed and I could tell how truly uncomfortable she was. Big crocodile tears fell from her eyes as she looked for me to help her. My heart broke, but I knew this was for her benefit.

As he finished cleaning her teeth and checking her our, she really did such an amazing job. Honestly, I was so proud of her. As a parent, it’s so hard to take your child to the doctor or dentist and not be able to explain why they’re getting a shot or why some random stranger is looking in their mouth. She did call him a meany multiple times after, so I guess she got her revenge too.

I know this is a long post, but this was a big day for her and I. Unfortunately, we found out Mila’s two teeth do need further assistance. Quite frankly, I didn’t know if I wanted to share this with all of you. I still feel like it’s somehow my fault, even after the dentist promised me that her teeth are just soft and prone to cavities. He even told me that he thought I was a great parent and to keep brushing her teeth to the best of my ability. But, Mila has to get caps on two of her teeth and will be under anesthesia for it.

I’m terrified.

This isn’t anyone’s ‘business’ besides Mila and I’s, but after making myself believe I’m a bad parent because she has two cavities and needs to get them fixed, I needed to share. If I think this, I know another person has had the same thoughts too. I just want them to know that you’re doing what you can and sometimes stuff just happens. Now I just have to make myself think that too.

The day didn’t end up in a negative place. Right after her appointment, we took her to Build-A-Bear for the first time ever. The pure joy of being able to make her own bear (dog) and pick it out an outfit made Mila’s world just right again.

I’ll never forget her holding her little dog in the middle of the store out from her and just screaming ‘yaaaaaaay!’ Her smile lit up the whole entire place and let me know everything’s going to be just fine.

Everyday motherhood teaches me something new and on this day, I learned that we have to be brave in situations that make us ultra uncomfortable. If this little toddler of mine can take on such a big day, not knowing what was going on, I can take on hard things too.

Mom Tip of the Week: Part 1

Do you have a little artist at home that likes to take their artwork off the paper? If you answered yes, this might just be the post for you.

Definitely said that in a cheesy infomercial voice, but in all reality, I have a tip for you guys. Lately Mila has been a coloring machine. I have notebooks full already and there’s always random papers with scribbles on them. To distract her from using crayons or markers on places I don’t want her to color, I showed her how our front door was a chalkboard. This worked for quite awhile, until she discovered more surfaces in the house.

This past week, my kitchen island has been the victim of Mila’s coloring.

So beautiful right… I mean anywhere besides my white island. At first, I grabbed a wipe and started scrubbing. It didn’t really work. I felt like I was getting a complete arm work out and it was still there.

Realizing I wasn’t getting anywhere with all my scrubbing… I had an idea.

Crayons are made of wax and when heated up, the crayon marks might wipe of a little easier…

AMAZING RIGHT?

I’m sure some of you have known this little trick, but if you don’t, it might help you in the future if your little Picasso takes their skills to walls or anywhere you want untouched.

It took less than five minutes to get everything wiped off after doing the little heat trick!

Hopefully it doesn’t turn into washable or even *gasp* permanent markers next. If it does and I figure a quick solution, I’ll keep you all updated. If you have one, comment below so I can prepare! I’m sure I’ll need it!

A Letter to the Man Who Helped Save Me.

Dear you, whose name I do not know:

Thank you is all I could say back to you, but I know you didn’t know the depth of those two words.

You helped save me from a twenty-four hours I don’t know how I survived. From a night filled with panic attacks to a little girl who wasn’t feeling her best, I was burnt out. Motherhood, although amazing and all these other great adjectives, can be draining. Days like yesterday was one of them.

So when you saw Mila walk in the store with her princess cup and train themed bear that she just had to take in, you saw it as me being a good mom. I saw it as just giving into a headstrong toddler, maybe a smidge of defeat. When you patiently waited for me to put her in the cart as she pointed to what seemed like every toy in the aisle (love the store in town, but why is the toy aisle the first one you see when you walk in?), I tried to calm down enough to slip her feet through the holes so you could put your cart back in. When I got her in you said it. The sentence that helped turn my entire day around…

You and all mothers just amaze me. 

I sighed in relief first because my anxiety told me it was taking forever to get Mila situated while you waited for me. My head had been playing games with me all day, but you kept going.

I don’t know how you mothers do it, but I’m glad you’re in the world. She looks like a happy girl, so you’re doing a good job. 

Thank you is all I could say. In reality, I could have cried because that’s all I needed to hear. Your kind words saved me. They helped me realize I’m doing the best I can do.

I hope one day I can run into you again and let you know how much your kind words meant to me.

Sincerely,

A mama who’s doing her best.

Mom Fail: Christmas Edition

Lately I’ve seen this image going around…

Not only do I appreciate everything my mom did for my brother and I growing up around this time and everyday, trying to make that magic happen for Mila has been exhausting but so worth it.

To keep the Christmas magic rolling, Mila, my mom, and I all made cookies. Every time we make cookies I have it in my head that they’ll be beautiful, Pinterest-worthy creations. We’re not the best at cookies, but I was feeling confident. Mostly because we bought pre-made cookie dough!

Mila was so into looking at the different shaped cookie cutters and even snuck a bite of cookie dough. She seemed pretty proud of that. We only cut a dozen or so cookies, which was plenty because she was ready to watch movies instead.

While they baked, I made hot chocolate and Mila ran my mom and dad around my house. Laughter and smiles filled the house. It started to smell like fresh baked cookies too. My confidence was skyrocketing.

When mom pulled the cookies out of the oven though, all I could do was laugh.

Our nicely cut out shapes, turned into blobs you could hardly make out what they were intended to be. One pan of cookies wasn’t even baked all the way. More laughter. I definitely wasn’t going to have the Pinterest worthy plate of cookies for Santa.

The thickest candy cane I’ve ever seen.

We totally failed at making beautiful cookies, but we didn’t on the memory front. Isn’t that what Christmas is all about?

Anyways, I don’t think Santa will mind our Thiccmas cookies one bit.