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.

New Adventures in Parenting After Loss.

Parenting after loss is full of ups and downs. There are a lot of days I think of the what if’s and wish to see Jensen and Mila playing together.

Lately, Mila’s been more explorative in how she plays. I showed her how to make a tent by putting a blanket over her little table and she thought it was the coolest thing ever. She’ll play under there for so long and evening puts her animals to bed under there. It’s the sweetest thing ever.

In the back of my mind, I’ve been thinking of Jensen’s teepee I got for him. It was supposed to go in the corner of his room for a little reading area. Since it never got to be put up, it’s been packed away in my basement. This morning, Mila was begging me to get under her little kiddie table and with her, the dog, and I, the table wasn’t cutting it. I decided to be strong and go in Jensen’s corner of the basement to get the teepee.

Honestly, it’s hard. It’s hard to see his stuff that’s never been used and is just there in boxes. Knowing that there’s a live that should have been lived in a corner in my house, truly breaks my heart. I don’t think I’ll ever have the right words to describe what it feels like. But I bet a lot of loss parents know the feeling I’m talking about.

Anyways, I got into his corner and knew right where I was looking. Mila and I brought it back upstairs and I sort of just went into mom mode. Her and I put together this huge 5 foot tall teepee in the middle of the living room. She was shocked to see it and as soon as it was up, she ran right in. Her smile was so big and it just warmed me up.

It turns out Mila, Max, a hundred stuffed animals, and me all fit in this big tent.

Any time Mila has used something of Jensen’s, I’ve never felt regret doing it. She wore some of his clothes, has his crib up, and used his car seat and stroller too. On the other hand, there hasn’t been anything super sentimental she’s used yet. We changed that today and I’m happy to have done it. I let her know this was Jensen’s tent too and he would’ve loved playing in it with her. She nodded and said Jensen’s name, then continued playing.

Jensen will always be her big brother and I’ll always be both of their moms. I don’t think being a loss mom will ever get easier, but I hope learning how to juggle both will. I don’t want Mila to ever think bringing Jensen’s name up or asking questions is a bad thing. Or I don’t want her to be afraid to look at and use his things makes me upset because it doesn’t. It’s just another part of this journey that I’ll figure out.

For now, I’m so proud of the little girl Mila is becoming. She has a brother who will always guide and protect her. Although he might not be here to physically play with her, I know Jensen’s spirit flows through our home. I’m just happy to be here through it all, learning to be the best mom I can.

Parenting after loss isn’t easy, but I’m thankful to be their mother.

Adventure on Mila Rae. There’s so much to see.

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.

Santa Encounter #2

We’re back! We had an awesome vacation and I can’t wait to share more pictures and stories soon, but Christmastime is here and there’s so much to tell.

After a fun filled vacation to Aruba, I thought it’d be a perfect time for Mila and Santa to meet again. Mom and I found this outfit, which was my moms when she was a toddler, this fall and I knew Mila had to wear it for her Santa pictures. She loved strutting in her little outfit and gave us the weirdest look when we told her Gigi wore it at one point. That big smile lights up the room and I had hope she would flash it in front of Santa too.

While we were gone, Mila was a social butterfly who gave others hugs and kisses and wanted to talk to anyone who’d listen. I didn’t think it’d be any different with Santa…

Like before… I was WRONG. Obviously.

Well, sort of half wrong. At this initial meeting, Mila did give Santa a hug and said hello. I thought the camerawoman told me she was ready for pictures to start… she was not. The hug would have been the perfect shot and she held on for just long enough to capture it, but the person was on their phone. She caught the moment after Mila realized I had walked away.

Although I may have giggled a little bit, I scooped her up and asked if she would take a picture with me in there too.

And that’s the best one we got.

The Santa actually thanked me after Mila ran straight to my mom when I let her down. He said more and more people get angry at their littles when they start crying and can’t get the perfect picture. I think it’s crazy that he thanked me for not getting mad at Mila because she didn’t take the ‘perfect picture.’

Motherhood is anything but perfect. Why would a picture be?

As much as I hated seeing her cry, I know she’ll look back and laugh and wonder why she was so scared of Santa. After the pictures were taken, she gave him a high five and told him bye bye. No, it’s not the smiling picture I wish it could have been, but it’s real.

Tears or not, Mila is loving this time of year and so am I.

Santa Encounter #1

This past weekend, Mila, my parents, and I walked down to Christmas on the Square. If you’re not local, it’s just a holiday inspired get together with a tree lighting and kid activities. It’s a nice way to see people in the community that you haven’t seen in a while. Everyone’s friendly and it’s one of the reasons why I love living in a small community. Along with all the fun things and people everywhere, the man of the season was there too: Santa Claus.

Seriously just wrote ‘Santa Claus’ in this dooming voice. If that’s any indication of how the rest of the story’s going to go.

Before seeing the big man, Mila was having fun. She’s pretty skeptical of other people, but was enjoying others talking to her and she got a bunch of cookies too. That upped the fun factor. After she started refusing to ride the ponies there, jumping in the bounce house for five minutes, and being over the cold, I spotted Santa.

I was weary she wouldn’t want anything to do with him, BUT there was no line or other kids waiting to see him. A seemingly perfect Christmas opportunity… or so I thought in my head.

It turns out, Mila is extremely anti-Santa and was paralyzed with fear when he went near her. While this was all playing out, my dad made sure to capture Mila’s encounter with Santa this year.

As you can see, it was not a positive one… at all. I’m hoping the next planned time to see him goes a hundred times better, but knowing Mila, it’s pretty unlikely.

Here’s to trying not to scar my child during her second Christmas!

Weird Things My Toddler Does: Part Two

Let’s admit it, toddlers a weird. Mine is no exception.

Like all kids, Mila goes through food stages. The flavor of this month: sliced salami. She eats it for lunch everyday with a slice of cheese and maybe some grapes. Sort of an odd choice of fav food, but that’s not the weird part about her latest obsession… she has to put it on her foot before she eats it.

Yeah, weird and gross. I literally watched her eat for twenty minutes today, while Frozen was playing for the thousandth time (another obsession lately). Every piece she laid on her toes and played with it before she got a nice, footy bite.

Notice how her other toes are glistening. I don’t know about you, but not a lot of people can say their feet smell like salami. At least she’s eating something, right?

I guess I’ll pick my battles with Mila, like her favorite girl Elsa says, I’ll let it go. But not before I share it with the internet.

What weird thing will Mila do next?