My Preschooler’s Question About Her Absent Father.

“Mom, is my dad dead?”

When Mila started preschool, I knew there would be questions about our family unit. She knows her brother died and can obviously see she doesn’t have a dad.

I’ve been preparing myself for questions, but I never thought she might have thought he died.

For the last year and a half, I’ve let her know it’s her and I against the world. That it’s okay to just have a mom. All families are different. Some have just one parent: mom or dad. Some have two: a mom and dad, two moms, two dads.

She seems to understand and tells me she is happy. If you talk to her, you can see that too.

There is no shortage of love for Mila. Our extended family is amazing. She has men in her life that show her how guys should act and treat others. I think she’s balanced in what she does and who she’s around. And again, most importantly, she is happy and healthy.

I couldn’t ask for a better daughter.

BUT, no matter how happy or how much love she has, there’s still a missing piece in her life.

“Mom, is my dad dead?”

“No, he’s not dead. Why do you ask that?”

“At preschool, I told my friends I didn’t have a daddy, just a mommy, and someone asked if he died. Like Jensen.”

“He didn’t die. It’s just you and I. When you get older, I’ll tell you more about him. Promise.”

Then she gives me a hug and let’s me hold her for a while. I don’t know if she cried because I couldn’t look. When she let go, she told me she loved me and went along her way.

I can’t tell you all the emotions that conversation made me feel.

If I could have screamed, I would. There was so much anger and sadness in me, on top of wanting to protect Mila from the world, from her dad.

It honestly makes sense that she thought that. She knows she has a brother that’s not here anymore. Jensen died and whew not here. She doesn’t have a dad, so in her head it makes sense he died too.

I’ll never understand how one person is okay with leaving a little girl, their flesh and blood, with so many questions… especially in the most impressionable years of her life. Okay with never knowing her or wanting her to succeed. Okay with not keeping her safe: emotionally, socially, and physically. Okay with her wondering if he died. Not that I even want him or his family involved with her, it’s still unfair to Mila not to know and wonder if he just died.

Sometimes I think that would have been an easier explanation for her. Death would make more sense than just being an abusive, neglectful, and cruel person to a child.

I don’t even understand it, how could a three year old?

It was one of those times as a parent when I had to separate my feelings and just had to focus on Mila. She needs to know that no matter what, her mom will always be there for her.

Being a single parent is hard. There’s so many questions I know Mila will have in the future that will feel like a hurdle when we get there.

This was just one of those times.

The next few days after the big question, she seemed a little down. I tried to make those days special and read books to her about different types of families. We also made a little book of our family to show her how many people love her.

I can’t change the fact that Mila’s dad is a terrible person who’s abandoned her. What I can help is how she views the world and her situation.

She is the most special girl. No one can ever take that away from her.


Usually I ask for advice or a question at the end of every blog post. I know Mila and I’d situation is unique, but if you have any book recommendations about single parent families, positive and helpful suggestions, or other resources that would help, please let me know.

Pirate Sensory Treasure Hunt.

Ahoy there mateys! If you’re looking to celebrate pirates or how they talk, your toddler or young child love this Pirate Sensory Treasure Hunt.

Recently, Mila has been watching Jake and the Neverland Pirates. She loves all the adventure and when they find treasure. What little kid wouldn’t want to live on a boat and find coins buried in the sand?

I think she is still obsessed with mermaids too and the ocean reminds her of them!

Anyways, I thought it would be fun to bring the buried treasure to Mila… with some sensory elements mixed in too. Let’s just say this little activity was a hit.

Here’s all you’ll need:

  • Rice
  • Kinetic sand
  • Sensory bin
  • Seashells
  • ‘Pearls’
  • Coins
  • Other little pirate/ocean toys or stickers

I actually used my resin seek and find from Beags and Bubs as Mila’s treasure map. So, some of the items in the seek and find, I put in the bin. It was another cute way to use it!

To assemble this bin you’ll first need to put the items in the bin.

I probably could have added more coins and probably will next time. It just depends on how long you want this play to last. By the way, the ‘pearls’ were under the seashell!

Then, add rice for the sand and blue kinetic sand as water. I put the fish and mermaid under the ‘water.’

Personally, I put the kinetic sand down first. It helped me cover the fish first. BUT, the rice is way easier to spread than the kinetic sand, so it was just easier to do it this way.

After it was set up, I got out some pirate accessories and resin letters to set it up for her.

She had fun finding all of the treasure. It was so cute to watch her just dive in there. I think the hardest thing to find were the coins. They moved around in the rice.

After she did find everything, she prepped it for me to find things!

It was fun to play along with her.

Then, she used the bin for some pretend play while she warched Jake! Anytime she extends play makes the work behind it well worth it!

I personally love this bin and can see us doing more treasure hunts in the future. Mila’s down every time she gets to put money in her piggy bank.


Do your kids like pirates? What are some ways you’ve used them in your play? Let me know in the comments.

Mom Tip of the Week: Wireless Headphones.

Mila loves to dance and with that comes LOUD music. I swear if anyone walks by our house they’d either hear true crime podcasts (I can’t get enough) or club music. There’s really no in between.

Sometimes though, I get overwhelmed by noise or just sensory things in general. One of my biggest tips for parents is to get wireless headphones for your kiddos.

Not only were these headphones SUPER cute, Mila loved them and even asks to wear them on her own sometimes. I love that I can take the sound break that I need without having to take music away from her. Especially since that’s her favorite way to play.

She’s already figured out how to control the volume and how to skip songs. It’s quite amazing.

It’s also nice when I want to listen to my true crime podcasts that I can put them on while she’s dancing to Disney songs or her dance music through her headphones. We both get to be happy listening to that day’s choices.

Funny story… Mila was jamming with her headphones in her playroom one day and it was time to eat. Instead of yelling or having to go in there to get her, all I had to do was shut off her music from my phone. She came to me wondering why her music turned off, but was happy when she saw dinner was ready.

We live for the little things!

These particular headphones are just so cute. Mila loves the little kitty cat on the side and that it lights up. Plus, they’re pink and purple; two of her favorite colors. She had to call people to show them on FaceTime when she first put them on.

They’re also super soft and don’t hurt her ears.

So if you’re desperate for a break from their favorite show (I’m talking about Mickey Mouse Clubhouse) or just want some quiet time to yourself… definitely get some wireless headphones for your toddlers.

I promise this mom tip will be well worth it!


What’s your mom tip that you swear by?

DIY Pumpkin Spice Play Dough Recipe

It’s almost fall, so that means it’s time for autumn themed play. This week, we made pumpkin spice play dough.

Not only does it smell amazing, it’s a ton of fun to play with… for kids and adults!

One BIG thing about this recipe is that it makes a lot of play dough. I was actually really surprised with how much there was after I made it. Honestly, I would suggest cutting this recipe in half. Unless you want to gift some to others!

The best part of this DIY play dough is that it’s only four ingredients and you don’t even need to cook it like other recipes.

  • 2 cups of flour
  • 1/2 cup of vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
  • Dash of pumpkin spice

It’s crazy that you can make good smelling play dough with only four ingredients… really only three main ones if you don’t want it to smell like pumpkin spice.

Mila helped make everything! We measured out all of the ingredients and she helped pour everything in. At first we started stirring it with a fork, then it got too thick and we had to start mixing it with our hands.

For the pumpkin spice, we poured a lot more than a dash. We poured it in until we could smell it!

She ended up playing with it for a long time. I think play dough really calms her. It’s also fun to watch her do pretend play with play dough. Another way you can challenge your toddler or preschooler to play with play dough is to have them make different shapes. It’s fun to watch them try to figure out how to make the shape with their hands.

To store this play dough, just keep it in an air tight container in the refrigerator. Mines in a ziplock baggie with all the air pushed out.

Before Mila plays with it, I just have it on the counter to warm up a little bit.

I’ve been trying to take more videos, but I’m forgetting to take pictures… oops. Thankfully I can share them on here.

It’s fun to watch the memories live instead of just pictures. I’ll try to do both!

I can’t wait to see all the times Mila plays with the play dough throughout the season. If we think of more fun ways to play, I’ll share them here with you.


Have you ever made play dough before? What’s your favorite type to make?

I definitely want to try different scented ones!

5 Tips to Help Your Preschooler Eat Their Lunch at School.

Preschoolers can be picky eaters… especially when they’re not home. Believe me, Mila can be one of them! During these first few weeks, I’ve found these 5 tips to help a preschooler eat their lunch at school.

1. Pick out a lunchbox they love.

Before preschool started, Mila never had to pack a lunch to go anywhere… besides when we went to picnics. I wanted her to be excited about lunchtime and knew that getting a lunchbox she loved would help.

We made it a special day to go pick her lunchbox. I didn’t really limit her to what she could or could not choose, but I’m so happy with the one she got too!

She picked a kids portioned Bentgo Box. It’s her favorite colors: pink and purple. It’s perfect!

Before she even went to her first day, she was eating out of her lunchbox. This helped her know how to open and close the box, get used to the portion sizes, and the opportunity to ask me questions about it. Any time I can take the uncertainty of something away from her, the better!

Here’s a few lunchboxes that I thought were amazing options too:

2. Include their favorite foods.

One of my biggest fears with Mila eating lunch at school is that she just won’t eat anything.

While packing her lunch, I let her help me pick out everything. Just by being able to have a choice in her favorite foods, she gets excited for lunch the next day. I make sure to add dessert in addition to healthy options.

When I know my favorite food is going to be served, I get way more excited to eat. There’s no difference for kids either.

Some of Mila’s favorite foods are:

  • Strawberries
  • Pistachios
  • Salad
  • Jello
  • Any type of cookie or brownie (LOL)

3. Make food fun.

PB&J Crown.

No matter how many favorite foods you add in your child’s lunchbox, their food can seem more enticing when you make it fun!

If your child is a sandwich eater, cutting them in different shapes can encourage your child to eat. I’ve been trying to cut shapes out with a knife, but it’s a lot easier if you use a cookie or sandwich cutter. There’s a ton of different options on Amazon you can easily find.

Other items that you might like to get to make their food fun are cartoon toothpicks and reusable bags.

Cartoon toothpicks are adorable. There are some eye toothpicks, so it looks like your food is looking at you. There’s also different types of animals and objects that your child will have fun identifying and seeing every day.

We love reusable bags here! I’ve bought ones with different sayings and images on it that Mila enjoys using.

Another option to make food fun is to have a themed lunchbox… princesses, dinosaurs, space. The options are seriously endless. There are so many cute ideas that you can find on Pinterest or just on the internet in general. I cannot wait to show you some of the ideas I have for Halloween week!

If you’re interested in looking some of items I talked about, I linked them here.

4. Leave them notes or messages.

One way I like to stay close to Mila is to write her a little note for lunch time.

Obviously, she’s only three and cannot read yet. Instead of writing words, I draw her hearts. We’ve always talked about how hearts mean love, so she immediately recognizes that. I know it makes her smile to see some love from mom and it lets her know that I’m thinking about her as well!

Even though I just use a post it notes for Mila, there are a ton of options for ones that are prewritten. They have cute designs and motivational sayings on them! I have a feeling I’ll buy them when she gets a little older for busy mornings or nights.

I love this idea for kids who might be having a hard time transitioning into school as well. A little note from home can really turn a child’s day around.

5. Check to see what works.

Sometimes, you can try all the advice above… and your child still doesn’t eat their lunch. It can be frustrating and worrying.

Believe me, I know!

Here’s a little story… since preschool started, Mila has only had one day where she hasn’t ate her lunch. It was packed with her favorite things, but there was one item she wasn’t so sure about. It made her not want to eat the entire lunch! Honestly, it worried me, but it was a good reminder to listen and really take in what your child says.

The next day, I literally had her tell me what she wanted and then added food I knew she loved too.

Just as everything with parenting, we have to learn what works best for our kid. Check in with them and let your child lead the way. They know their body and how they are at school. Especially when they have guidance from great parents like you.


I hope some of these tips help your child eat at lunch time!

As parents, it’s hard not to be proud of your child’s courage to go to school and to blossom into their person they’re becoming. Lunches are one way parents can show that pride and help them succeed in their day.

In the comments, let me know if you have any other suggestions on how to help other parents with their child’s lunches.

Leaf Cutting Sensory Bin.

Fall is quickly approaching and that means leaves will be changing. A great way for kids to learn about leaves and fall is through sensory play. This Leaf Cutting Sensory Bin is a fun activity to welcome fall and practice important skills.

Mila and I try to go on a walk every day; with Max and Toby too. This past weekend, there were so many leaves on the ground. Since she was in awe of them, Mila started picking them up.

My pockets were full when we got home!

Even though I had planned this activity for September, it sort of just happened naturally.

Once we got home, I emptied the leaves in our sensory bin, set out her resin letters, and hoped the child safe scissors would work!

That’s actually best part of this sensory bin… you probably have everything right on hand!

  • Leaves
  • Child safe scissors
  • Bin

All I did was do the steps above and let Mila explore the leaves. I did have to remind her how to safely use the scissors a few times though.

Without prompting, she talked about the different colors of the leaves, their texture, and if they are crunchy or not. It brought up a lot of different conversations that I really enjoyed having with her. It’s so amazing to see her mind work.

If you have scissors that cut different shapes, I’d suggest using them. Mila loved seeing the different patterns.

I also love that there isn’t a ton of creativity or prep for this activity. She actually took her time and played with the leaves. It was great for me to clean up while she played.

Another huge suggest is to get resin letters!

She’s been playing with them during our activities for the last few months and is recognizing more letters. I really believe they’re helping her become more comfortable with them. She’s actually remembering what letters are in her name and her cousin, Isla’s name.

Again, check out Beags and Bubs, Danielle makes amazing custom sets. I actually have another on the way!


Do you think your child would like this activity? What activities do you use to talk about fall or the leaves changing with your young child? Let me know in the comments.

Apple Popsicle Stick Frame.

Mila’s first day of preschool was yesterday and she LOVED it. She had so much fun making new friends and playing. So, we had to make a craft to always remember this day.

Since she’ll be learning all about the letter ‘A’ soon, we did an Apple Popsicle Stick Frame.

Let’s hope she remembers apple starts with A!

Here’s all you’ll need for this apple-solutely cute craft:

Before letting Mila go crazy with painting, I hot glued the frame. Even though she helped me get the craft sticks out, I still thought I should take over the hot glue gun.

I used six popsicle sticks to lay down flat. Then three on the back to hold them together.

Once the hot glue dried, it was time to paint!

I actually mixed water in the paint to make it more like a stain instead of thick paint. For me, it looks a little better for this particular craft and it was easier for her to paint too.

She ended up painting three Apple Popsicle Stick Frames: one red, one green, one mixed.

After the paint was dried, I used twine to make a stem. Then I hot glued it to the frame.

Next, I made leaves out of left over scrapbook paper. I wanted to make sure I put the year on there somewhere. The stickers worked perfectly, although they overlapped a little bit.

Then, I tapped an Instax picture I took before she went to school. You can use whatever picture works best for you and your child.


I love how simple this DIY was to make and how many memories it will hold.

Mila told a ton of funny stories about her first day of school. At the end of the week I’ll write a few down and share with all of you.

It’s crazy to think how quick she’s growing up!

Let me know in the comments what your favorite way to remember your child’s first day of school. I can’t wait to hear everyone’s ideas!

10 Thoughts On Getting Ready in the Morning for Preschool.

MILA STARTED PRESCHOOL!

This morning Mila hit a huge milestone: preschool. It’s something we’ve both been excited for all summer. For the last week, she’s asked when she could finally go.

Today was that day!

If you like some of her preschool gear, check out her Success Backpack for links and information.

One part of the preschool process that I’ve been worried about are the mornings. It’s a lot to get two people ready… on top of two dogs too. So, I set my alarm extra early and this is sort of how it went… at least in my head.

Here are the ten thoughts I had over the course of getting ready for preschool this morning.

1. This is way too early.

5:45 came way too early this morning.

Thank goodness I laid everything out last night and know what I’m wearing today. Tonight, we’re going to sleep way earlier.

2. Be quiet and get ready quick!

Sneak into the bathroom. I can’t wake her up before I’m ready. This will go so much quicker and smoother this way.

3. I have plenty of time.

It’s only 6:05. I’m doing way better than I thought. Still, I should fight the urge to scroll. I’ll make some tea instead.

4. Time to wake her up.

I’m all ready. Everything’s ready to go out the door, there’s only one last thing that needs done… Mila!

A gentle rub on the back isn’t cutting it.

“Try to wake up and I’ll make you food. Remember, you’re going to preschool today.”

As I walk out, I hear her flip over to sleep again.

5. Get the dogs set up.

A dog and a puppy… what was I thinking?!

6. ‘I’m tired Mom.’ Me too, kiddo

She’s still asleep.. uh-oh.

I wake her up and get her on her feet. This helps a little bit, but she still looks like a zombie.

“I’m tried,” gets repeated over and over again. Believe me kid, I get it. Tonight, we’ll go to sleep much earlier. For now, it’s time to get ready.

7. Be a multitasking queen.

Breakfast. Hair brushed. Clothes. Teeth brushed. Bags in hand. Out the door.

Just your average multitasking queen.

8. Cheeeeeeeesey Cat!

Cue all the pictures.

We need one with her sign on the steps. I need to get the Instax film. I want to remember this moment and day for forever.

Here’s a few by the preschool sign just for good measure too.

9. This is it.

It’s time.

Walking her into school is such a rush of emotions. Is she ready? Will she be okay? What if she misses me?

10. It’s okay… she’s going to do just fine.

As soon as she walks into the classroom, she runs to play.

It’s okay, mama. This is what you’ve prepared her for for the last three years. It’s all apart of growing up.


Honestly, I’m so proud of Mila and her going to preschool. It’s such an accomplishment and milestone that deserves to be celebrated. I just hope she knows that she’s special and loved.

Are these thoughts similar to the ones you have when getting your kids ready? Let me know in the comments.

Mom Tip of the Week: DIY Chalkboard Paint Door

When you have a little artist, walls and flat services are prone to getting drawn on. Since life is all about compromise, we transformed our front door into a DIY Chalkboard Paint Door.

It’s a really simple and fun switch. Plus, you’ll get the cutest drawings constantly.

So if you can remember, I posted a mom tip about how to get crayons off of walls and cabinets. There was also a permanent marker incident that took some time to get off.

The best solution for our family was giving Mila a space to create.

Since I wanted to paint my door black for a long time, it was the perfect reason to buy chalkboard paint!

You can buy chalkboard paint at any hardware store. There’s different colored chalkboard paint, I just preferred black. I know there’s a TON of different ways to make chalkboard paint all over the Internet too.

One suggestion I would make is to paint a base coat in whatever color you want your door.

Chalkboard paint is more expensive than regular paint. So, if you have a base color coat, you won’t need as much blackboard paint.

Always trying to save money!

I love that I’m able to celebrate Mila’s creativeness without losing my sanity with cleaning all the time.

If you don’t want to paint a whole door, you can easily frame off a piece of a wall to create the same effect too!

Would you create a blackboard space for your child? Or what’s your favorite way to encourage your child to be creative… minus the mess.


Looking for other ways to making parenting easy? Check out these mom hacks!

Preschool Activity: Back to School Activity Box

Back to school is an intense time for students of all ages. For children going to school for the first time they might be a little nervous. To help ease them into going their first year or just back to school in general, I created a Back to School Activity Box.

Mila will be starting preschool next week and I wanted her to realize how much she knows already. This box will hopefully give her that confidence she needs to succeed.

I made sure to add different activities that would hit all content areas that are tons of fun!

Even though the theme of this box is back to school, it’s mainly centered around the alphabet, colors, and shapes! Everything Mila needs for preschool. As always, these are just suggestions and if you do a Back to School Activity

Books

As always, I’m always encouraging Mila to read and explore different books. This set of books goes from a beginner level to a little more advanced for her. The A to Z by Sandra Boynton is a great way to get kids saying their ABC’s and just introduced to the alphabet. How to Bake a Book is adorable. I love how it talks about the components of a book and what makes a story… well, a story.

The hardest book in the bunch is I’m Allergic to School! It’s definitely targeted to elementary school kids, but I think it’s fun to read Mila the poems. She likes to listen and it has higher vocabulary that helps her learn more.

There’s a ton of different back to school books, but these are what we have on hand. As always, I’d love more recommendations in the comments.

Puzzles

Mila LOVES puzzles and putting them together. We have a ton at home that she does all the time. Even though these are more educational, she also enjoys floor puzzles too. I really love these three puzzles (even though she has hidden the black piece in both her color puzzles). They’re very educational and get her used to letters, words, and colors. The alphabet puzzle is a great way for her to understand that every word has a letter, since there’s pictures under each one.

Her name puzzle was off of Etsy and was totally worth it. She already knows how to spell her name and I’m pretty sure these helped the process! Plus, it’s adorable.

Fizzy Bomb

I had to add a little science in her box. I try to do a few science experiments a week for her. She likes seeing reactions. This fizzy bomb reminds me of a bath bomb, but it has a little charm in it for her to get. It’s so important to introduce science and get kids interested in the subject as early as possible! I also have different science experiments posted on the blog that have really interested Mila too!

Play-Doh and Mats

No surprise that I added play-doh to this activity box too. It was such a hit in both the Dino and Mermaid box. Play-doh is open ended and can help kids create with their hands. Plus, it’s a great for sensory play too!

To help her work with shapes, I added these mats with the page protectors from Target. In the box is a roller and kid safe knife to help her cut our shapes if she pleases.

You can also use play-doh to talk about colors and have them roll out different shapes too!

Coloring/Activity Books, Flashcards, and Sticker Activities

I love educational play! Mila has been so interested in workbooks, coloring books, and flashcards for a little while now. You can find these on Amazon, Target, or Walmart. I actually found a lot of things at the Target dollar spot.

Instead of ripping out pages in her alphabet booklet, I just let her explore the whole thing this week. Of course you can use whatever letters or workbook activities you’d like.

My favorite alphabet coloring book is A B to Jay Z, which name has changed. It has a ton of different pop starts that correlates to the particulate letter in the alphabet. It’s such a fun way to learn. You can purchase the new coloring book here.

I also gave Mila more stickers to play with this week. Like I mentioned above with the play-doh, you can have kids sort the stickers by color OR give them a pattern to follow. Mila does this for a little while, then loves to give herself tattoos. BUT stickers are always a hit in our house.

Another pop-it has made an appearance too. If your kiddo doesn’t have one, try it with them. It’s so relaxing for them and I want to make a post about different activities you can do with them too!

Resin Letters Match

You all know how much I love resin letters. I think they’re so valuable in learning them. Anything that Mila can pick up and inspect really helps her grasp what she’s learning. I also printed out an alphabet mat and used the page protectors for her to match them on their.

The opportunities are endless when it comes to using these letters. You can have your child organize them however you’d like. You can use them with sight words or really anything.

Again, if you’re looking to buy resin letters, I’ll always shout out Beags & Bubs. She makes amazing sets that you can personalize!

Other Activities

Here’s a list of other activities we’ve done in the past that could be easily incorporated in the box. I’ll also be posting some extra things this weekend and next week that you could use too. Stay tuned!


If you’d like to give me some back to school tips to help students transition to the new routine or being ready, let me know in the comments.

Want to see the other activity boxes we’ve done? Check them out: