Jensen is FIVE.

I always need a few days after Jensen’s birthday to collect all my thoughts.

Five feels really big. He should be half a decade old. That realization is hard to wrap my mind around. Then I remember, I have to live the rest of my life without him. It’s a mix of seeing Mila grow older and knowing five holds so much that really brought me to a dark space this year.

Not that every year isn’t hard because having your child die really sucks.

Anyways, Jensen’s actual birthday was everything it needed to be. We still celebrate his birthday and I probably always will.

This year, I wanted to do an activity a five-year-old would love to do. So, we went to the zoo.

I want to go over how much we loved the Cleveland Zoo in a future post, but it was a huge part of Jensen’s fifth birthday. It would be silly not to share the highlights of the day.

My favorite part of going to the zoo was that all the animals were out. Since it was a cooler day, they were playing and being active. The big cats were all out and not napping. Even the bears were out of their caves and showing off.

Honestly, I thought of Jensen’s birthday eve book. We read On the Night You Were Born by Nancy Tillman. In the book, the animals were all dancing the night the baby was born. It felt like the animals were out at the zoo for Jensen. I know that sounds silly, but those little connections are my only ones to him.

As with anything during child loss, I also wondered what animal Jensen would like seeing the most at the zoo. At five, he’d definitely have a favorite. Part of me felt like he’d have liked the red pandas the most. I wonder if he’d want his face painted too. Just those little things that constantly pop up.

I’ve finally realized it’s okay to have those sad moments in a happy day. Grief and happiness coexist in the strangest way, especially on their birthdays.

Of course we had dippin’ dots at the zoo!

After the zoo, we went out to eat.

There were a few birthdays that got celebrated and it was hard because Jensen didn’t get that. Mila is at an age where she wants to sing along with everyone else’s birthday celebrations when we go out. Yet, we didn’t get one for her brother at the restaurant.

I often wonder what Mila thinks of those types of things. It’s just our life, but it’s just something I think about.

When we got home, we had family over to celebrate Jensen and his birthday. There was ice cream cake, singing, and bubbles. Everyone said his name and that will always be the greatest gift of all.

Just knowing Jensen is remembered and loved brings me such happiness.

Throughout his birthday, I received so many birthday messages and love. I can’t thank everyone enough for that. The love that surrounds him and his memory is so beautiful.

I don’t know what this year of grief looks like. Whenever I try to plan something, it feels like it gets a little derailed.

One thing I want to do in honor of Jensen this year is a backpack drive to donate to a local school. Since he’d be a kindergartner this year, I feel like that would be a beautiful way to honor him. The closer we get to the summer, the more details and information I’ll have on this.

What I do know is that as we dive into year five, he is still so loved and missed.

I think about my little boy every single day. He is the reason I keep going forward and shapes the way I parent Mila. Jensen is a part of our lives in all ways. Even though he isn’t here with us doesn’t mean he isn’t in our hearts.

No matter how many years pass, I’m so proud to be his mom.

Toddler Activity: Stormy Clouds Experiment

Rain rain, go away, come back another day! Or if you insist on staying, it’s a perfect time to introduce the water cycle to toddlers.

Mila LOVE experimenting. I try to tailor to her learning style as much as I can. She would prefer doing an experiment every day, but that’s not always possible. Thankfully, teaching her about rain and the water cycle gives us an amazing opportunity to get dirty and make what she calls Stormy Clouds.

This experiment is fun for both toddlers and adults. It not only talks about the rain cycle, but you can incorporate color recognition, the Scientific Method, and motor skills too; so much learning packed in one rainy day activity.

Here’s what you’ll need to make stormy clouds:

I’m going to first start off by saying this activity can get messy. Whenever there is food coloring, it somehow gets everywhere. I’d recommend placing a plate, mat, or some sort of paper under your big jar. Of course, food coloring will clean up, but it’s nice to just take some precautions.

Once you get an area where you’ll experiment set up, fill a big clear jar with water. The jar I used had a lip on it. I filled it up to the bottom of the lip so it gave me some room to put the shaving cream.

Next, mix your food coloring with water in little jars and bowls. Your child will be either scooping the colored water with a spoon or using a pipette. I used very small Tupperware containers for this step. For the water/food color combination, I used 8-10 drops of food coloring and eyeballed the water. I wasn’t too scientific about the measurements!

Then, add shaving cream to look like a cloud on top of the BIG jar of water. I did this step after the food coloring because Mila would not have had enough patience to wait for all of the colors.

After you’re set with the cloud, have your toddlers start spooning or dripping the dyed water over the could.

It takes a little bit for the water to penetrate through the cloud, but once it does, it’ll look like rain drops are coming out of it. Mila enjoyed using purple the best since it was easier to see. Although, it was fun to do a huge mix of colors.

Throughout the experiment, we talked about how clouds make the rain and then it goes down to Earth. I’m not a huge science buff, so I turned to Little Raindrop, which is a cute book that talks age appropriately about the water cycle! It has adorable pictures and tells the story about a single raindrop. Mila got this when she was one and it was too advanced for her. At almost three, it’s perfect!

Even if your child is not interested in learning about the water cycle or even into rain, the activity is fun to just make a mess and play with colors. I showed a group of adults this activity and they enjoyed it too. It really is fun watching the shaving cream turn different colors.

Next time it’s raining or anytime you want a hands on activity to do with your child, this Stormy Clouds Experiment is perfect!

If you liked or tried this activity, let me know in the comments!

Check out these rainy day activities from other moms!

Toddler Activity: Egg Rescue

If you’re stuck with abundant amount of plastic eggs from Easter, let your toddlers play with them! This Egg Rescue is fun for active toddlers who like to work with their hands.

Mila loved ripping through and tearing all the tape off the eggs. It was fun to watch her too!

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Plastic Easter Eggs
  • Washi Tape
  • Candy, little prizes, or change.

This activity takes a little time to set up. It’s worth it because they get really into it.

Fill Easter eggs with whatever stuffing you’d like. Think of leftover eggs from Easter Egg hunts!

Then, tape them on to whatever table.

Next, have your toddler rip the tape completely off. I made Mila tear off every single piece of tape before she could open the egg. It made her be precise in how she did it.

When they have all their tape off, it’s time for the surprise. Mila had no idea they were filled and was so excited! I let her open the eggs all by herself too.

This activity has so many important motor skills that they use. I also had Mila tell me the color of the egg she was opening to get some color recognition in.

Although I think I spent more time prepping, it really was a lot of fun to watch. She even taped down some of the eggs to keep practicing.

The star of the show was the quarter though!

Mila was genuinely excited that the egg gave it to her. Plus, she got to use her piggy bank which is ALWAYS a treat.

Overall, this is such a fun activity. I think it’d be awesome to do if it was a rainy Easter or in the days following. Since they’re mostly plastic eggs, reusing them for other activities and saving them for next year is great for our world!

I hope you liked this activity and if you try it out, let me know in the comments.

Bacon and Avocado Egg Sliders Recipe

If you’re like me? You probably wonder what to do with all the hard boiled eggs every Easter. I have a simple recipe that you might solve your problems!

And… it’s not deviled eggs!

These bacon and avocado egg sliders are keto friendly. Plus, they pack a lot of big flavor in a little package!

Here’s all you need:

  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Avocado
  • Bacon
  • Salt and pepper
  • Quantities depend on how much you want to make!

The first step if you don’t have any leftover Easter eggs is to hard boil eggs. Everyone has different ways to doing this.

If you already have eggs made, start with your bacon. I like mine a little crispy, so I keep it on there for a while. Same as with the eggs, I won’t tell anyone how to cook their bacon either!

Next, cut your avocado up. Then mash it.

Usually, I add salt and pepper to the avocado to give it some spice. Make sure no one steals this mixture… like Mila.

When you’re bacon and hard boiled eggs have cooled down. It’s time to assemble these sliders

Then, slice your eggs in half, longways.

They can get a little slippery at this stage. Be careful of which plate you put them on! I’m speaking from experience if you couldn’t tell.

Then spoon avocado on top.

After, break the bacon up in smaller pieces. Then stick it on top of your egg slider.

If you have extra bacon left, you can add more to it too! I usually add one to the bottom to make a little sandwich.

This little bite-sized slider has amazing tastes. I love the saltiness of the bacon and the creaminess of the avocado. Plus, it’s a great mix of textures too.

Honestly, this is one of my favorite ways to eat hard boiled eggs. Mila loves them too!

There’s not a ton of steps to follow and kids can easily help making these. Bacon and avocado egg sliders are really great for the days following Easter.

If you liked and tried this recipe, let me know in the comments!

Before you go, check out these Easter recipes from other moms that blog:

April is National Poetry Month…

…and a bunch more too.

April is not an easy month for me and this year feels extra difficult too. On top of my intense grief with Jensen’s birthday only four days away, I’m drowning in my last semester of school, work, and Mila’s birthday too. It’s a dangerous combination. Breakdown probably imploding soon.

Through it all, I’m trying to remain positive, even when it feels really hard.

This morning, I didn’t know if I was going to blog today. Instead, I took the morning easy and painted with Mila. Since it’s National Poetry Month, I thought it’d be fun to write a poem too.

My plan is to write a poem a day, whether I share it or not. It challenges me to think inward and be expressive. In a month where I don’t have a ton of time to self reflect or do a lot of self care, this will be my time.

For the first one, I thought it’d be poetic to write one about April.


April.
you hold so much of my heart,
i don’t know where to start.
you’ve brought me life and death,
promise you won’t take my breath.
your sun shines so hot,
my son comes through forget-me-nots.
you have flowers grow all around,
while my daughter runs all around.
you always tempt me to love you,
and one day that’ll be true.

It may not be the best poem around, but I think it perfectly describes this month for me.

Here’s what’s coming up for the rest of the month. Again, it’s going to be really busy here, but I’ll be around… promise.

  • April 4 – Easter & Family Pictures
  • April 5 – Jensen turns FIVE!
  • Mila’s Birthday Party
  • April 14 – Mila turns THREE!
  • April 22 – Earth Day
  • April 27 – Last day of this semester.

When it’s listed out like that, it doesn’t seem like so much. Yet, behind every single one of those is a lot of emotions and time. So, I’ll be just a bit busy.

Let me know if I should share my daily poems. Maybe I’ll paint too!

Toddler Activity: DIY Letter Crayons

Today is Crayon Day! Did you know there was a day specifically for crayons? Me neither, but I love how these DIY Letter Crayons turned out. I think it’s so fun celebrating different days with Mila, but the activities along with it are even more fun.

Another thing I didn’t know before Mila and I did this activity was that anyone can purchase a ton of unwrapped crayons. It makes this DIY a lot easier!

Here’s what you’ll need if you want to create some of your own:

This can obviously be done without purchasing the unwrapped crayons. You can use broken ones at home or a smaller amount from a store. Just make sure that the wrapping is taken off. That’s most important.

Before you start cutting crayons for the mold, preheat your oven to 250°.

Then, start breaking up crayons to place in the mold. I’m pretty sure this was Mila’s favorite part of the whole DIY. It takes quite a bit of crayons to fill the mold up. One word of advice from me is even if it seems like a lot of crayon in the mold, they melt way down.

Figure out which colors you’d like to put together before hand too. I added a lot of white in between colors to prevent the crayons from getting mixed. Plus, the marble look is cute too.

Anyways, place the mold on a baking sheet then in the oven for about ten minutes or until they’re completely melted.

After they’re melted, let them completely cool before removing them.

That last step is super important. A few of our crayons broke during the removal process. To fix it, I just popped them back in the oven for a little while.

Overall, I think they turned out perfectly! We made sure to do “Mila’s letters” and Jensen’s too. She helped pick out the colors for both. It was the perfect opportunity to talk about letters and colors as well. I love how random activities can hold so much learning opportunities.

One mistake I made through the crayon making process was putting white on the corners. When we make more, I’ll keep away from that. It just made drawing a little harder for Mila and she didn’t understand why she couldn’t see what she was drawing.

Besides that, Mila noticed and loved how one crayon could have so many different colors. I can’t wait to see her future creations!

If you try this DIY out, let me know in the comments. Also, if you’ve done it before, tell me your tips in getting anything out of molds! I feel like it’s all up to patience, but I get too excited.

Before you go, check out what these other moms did to celebrate Crayon Day:

What Happened to Laundry Weekend?

It was supposed to be a laundry weekend.

Moms know what this means. We had a long weekend so all the clothes in the house were to be folded. Extra cleaning was to be done too. The chore list doesn’t just do itself. It was all supposed to be neat and tidy for the week ahead.

Even though it was supposed to happen, it didn’t.

All the clothes are still waiting to be folded. The floors are swept and the house is somewhat tidy, but not to the level it could have been.

Instead, I focused on the hardest job: being a mom.

Mila and I played outside most of time. We went to get dinner at a food truck and made new friends. When the weather was it’s nicest, we went on a hike. She made me wear silly headbands, pretending to be a pirate. I played along with all that she asked. At night, we cuddled and watched movies. I listened when she needed to be heard. She showed me her new superhero power. We did what we needed to as a family.

Even though there’s a to do list full of chores, it didn’t seem so important in the moment.

At this time next month four turns to five and two turns to three. Time is continuing on, even when I want to hit pause.

I’ll always think about the should be’s, the moments I missed, and the extra laundry too. The Jensen-size-hole in my heart is just aching a little more. It reminds me of the choices I make on weekends like these.

He reminds me of moments and why I soak them up with her. Things around the house will stay, but she’ll continue growing. I don’t want to miss any more.

So, if you ask how my laundry weekend went just know…

All the laundry that was supposed to be folded will always be there. These moments won’t.

7 Spring Books Your Toddler Will Love

With spring books comes beautiful illustrations that toddlers love. It’s also a perfect time to teach little ones about all the new things that happen in spring.

I can’t even explain the importance of reading to toddlers. That’s how they expand their vocabulary and learn about everything around them. Plus, it’s great time to bond with your little one too.

Here are seven spring books Mila and I are loving.

This is the latest book I’ve purchased for Mila. The covers illustration is beautiful and it carries on throughout the book too. I love how Mila is learning without even realizing it. Plus, it lets her know how important bees are to our world!

“Also an Animal” is a beautiful book about spring babies and the love between mothers and their babies. The book is so informative. I didn’t even know the name of some of the babies. Mila loves mama and baby pairs, so this book is perfect for that.

This classic book is perfect for spring and Easter too! Mila loves all the pictures and I enjoy sharing stories that I read when I was a child too. It’s a perfect book to make an Easter Eve tradition with too!

Everyone knows this classic song! This book version has beautiful illustrations that helps a toddler visualize what’s going on. At the end, it lets you know the hand motions to use too.

I also enjoy this book to explain to Mila that spiders aren’t scary. It seems to help!

Love You More
by Hannah Green

One of my favorite Aldi finds, “Love You More” is a beautiful book about family with bright colors. It lets young kids know that no matter what, they are loved. Mila loves pointing out the colors and we count the flowers on the page too.

If you can find this treasure online, let me know so I can link!

Another classic story, “Play With Me” is perfect for teaching patience and gentleness to little ones. If you have a toddler, you know those two aren’t their strong points. It was a great teaching moment for Mila. Plus, I personally love the illustrations in this book. They’re not as bright, but they’re still beautiful.

I was originally gifted this book and Mila and I fell in love. This is a beautiful story about mothers of all creatures love of their children. Again, the illustrations are beautiful and Mila loved the babies in it.

All of these books are staples in our home. Let me know in the comments what are your favorite spring time books?

Toddler Activity: Waffle Day Letters

If you hadn’t guessed it already, today is Waffle Day. To celebrate, Mila and I of course ate, you guessed it, waffles! She also did a fun activity that we thought you’d love too!

Mila is obsessed with numbers, which is wonderful. She can count to fourteen all by herself. But… letters… they’re not her thing yet. The only ones she likes are m, i, l, a. I’m sure you get why. To help her get excited about them, we got to play with out food again.

For this activity, we got to combine making brunch, learning letters, and eating. Yum!

Here’s all you’ll need:

You might be wondering… why waffles and why letters? The squares in waffles make GREAT place holders. Plus, it’s fun too.

To start this activity, make your preferred waffle recipe and cook one wafffle.

While this is cooking, get a small bowl of blueberries or chocolate chips ready. Then, make sure to have out a whiteboard and marker or a piece of paper and pencil.

Once the waffle is done, let it cool down a little bit and then place it in front of your child. Draw a letter on your white board or paper. Then instruct them to write the letter with the blueberries or chocolate chips on the waffle. They might need a little help at first!

While you’re cooking, you can keep writing different letters for them to try. Make sure to say the letters out loud and connect them to something they know. I started with Mila’s ‘letters.’

Just keep in mind, your little one might eat their tools!

This was such a fun activity that can be anytime you’re enjoying waffles. It teaches them their letters and challenges them how to create letters too! Plus, they’ll be using their fine motor skills too! Just an overall educational and interesting activity.

If you liked this activity, let me know in the comments! Have you ever used food to learn?

While you’re at it, check out the fun other bloggers had with Waffle Day!

California Avocado Chicken Recipe

This isn’t your average chicken recipe. So, if that’s what you’re looking for get off the page now.

Just kidding, all are welcome! But, this recipe is so good and perfect for spring and summer. It’s light and full of flavor. There may be a few steps, but the outcome is totally worth it.

This recipe is a touch more complex than other recipes I share. Mostly because there’s one prep step that I normally don’t have time to do. But, it only takes thirty minutes, which is no time when you’re playing outside.

I’m going to break the ingredients down into the two steps. Here’s what you’ll need:

Marinade:

  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 3/4 cup of balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup of honey
  • 3 cloves of minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons of Italian seasoning
  • Salt and pepper

Topping:

  • 2 avocados
  • 3 Roma tomatoes
  • Salt and pepper
  • Mozzarella cheese (optional)

The first thing you should do is make the marinade. Combine the balsamic vinegar, honest, garlic, olive oil, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper together.

Once it’s mixed up, put the chicken breasts in the marinade and put in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

While the marinade is working it’s magic, start making the topping.

Dice the avocados and tomatoes. Then add them to a bowl and top with salt and pepper. I also added some Italian seasoning too!

After this, heat your grill or griddle.

Pull out your marinated chicken and get to cooking. Usually, it only takes 5-7 minutes per side to cook chicken. When they’re done, melt mozzarella cheese over it then plant.

Before serving, add the avocado and tomato topping. I also drizzled more balsamic vinegar over if too.

The chicken in this recipe tastes so good; thanks to the marinade!

There were no leftovers since Mila and I both loved it. I’m so glad she loves these flavors. Actually, I had to cut another avocado while waiting for the chicken. She just eats it by the bowl.

Anyways, I think this recipe will be a great addition to your spring and summer rotation.

If you try it out, let me know in the comments!