And Her New Word Is…

Mila has mastered a handful of names so far, but the one we were working hard on she just refused to say. Anytime we’d ask Mila to say my brother’s name, Logan, she’d either call him ‘dog’ or flat out shake her head no.

Granted, it’s probably not the easiest name to say, but keeping in mind she says Courtney and Chelsea, I thought it’d be up her alley. One time she attempted to say his name. She didn’t do too bad, but after that.. nothing. Then yesterday she just decided to come up with her version of his name. Of course he wasn’t there to witness it, but the power of video is magical.

Here she is in her talking (and braveness) glory. You can see why were in the ER so much with this video… but still. It’s cute. Enjoy!

Thanks for always being there for her, Uncle Lo Lo.

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Why I’d Choose Toddlerhood Over Infancy Any Day.

Before Mila was mobile, I got asked all the time what kind of baby she was and how motherhood was treating me. I’d look down at her and see the cutest baby I’ve ever seen. When I was pregnant, I dreamed I’d love all her cuddles and babyhood. I wanted to be obsessed with her infancy and to some point I was, but she wasn’t an easy baby and PPD wasn’t allowing me to enjoy motherhood. Maybe it was the mix of not sleeping or feeling like I should have been doing more. I think the more probable answer is her wanting to be nursed and held all the time let me have too much time to think. To much time to wonder and open new doors in my grief. It was such a juxtaposition of having this healthy baby, but feeling dread on the inside.

I thought it would last forever and I was scared. No one tells you that you might not like the baby stage and they tell you to beware of toddlers. I needed to enjoy those cuddles before I had to chase after her all the time. Almost every person I talked to told me that first year was the most special. Then I started feeling really bad and thinking maybe I just wasn’t a good mom.

Then she started walking and everything’s changed. I know she’s only fifteen months old and just starting toddlerhood, but I finally feel that awe I thought I was ‘supposed’ to a year ago.

A toddler is full of defiance and tantrums.

I can’t tell you how many times in a day I tell Mila no and she flops on the ground, kicking her feet. She’ll look me right in the face when she’s doing something she’s not supposed to and smile. If I tell her one thing, she instantly does the other. She hates nap and bed time. Fights me tooth and nail when she needs to settle. Her scream is the loudest I’ve ever heard and if you’ve been around her, you’d know she does it just to hear her own voice. My house is constantly a mess. As I’m cleaning, she comes up behind me and puts everything back where she had it before. She wants my full attention all the time and when something doesn’t go her way, she lets me know.

These are the hard parts of toddlerhood and I’m sure as she continues to grow, that list will too. But there’s the moments during these times that make it worth everything. The special moments or routines that just melt your heart.

Having a toddler is seeing the world so differently. It’s waking up at 5:30 in the morning to kisses and her saying, “Mama. Gee dog,” as she points to the tv and somehow I know it’s time to put Benji on for her in hopes to get a few more minutes of sleep. Yet, for some reason not because watching her dance and smile seems so much more important. It’s doing something you always do unknowingly and then seeing them pick it up and do it too. Sometimes it’s a word you say and you know it’s not a good one. Toddlerhood is her pushing around a bag of Doritos in her baby doll’s stroller and sharing by giving you one every time she passes. It’s in the moments where you wonder how this little human you have can be so frustrating and then they give you a trillion kisses to make it all better. All the hand holds, toothy smiles, and big personalities make up toddlerhood too.

To every mom or dad who’s in a spot they don’t particularly like, it gets better. It’s okay to not like a spot. It’ll be over soon and you’ll look back and feel like you can accomplish anything. Through a persons life, there’s always hard times and things that aren’t great in that spot. BUT there’s so many moments that sparkle and with those we make it through.

My journey with motherhood has been anything but easy, but I’m thankful for this season I’m in. Even when she pours cheese all over herself. She’ll only be little once.

Toddler Summer Bucket List: Market Vibes

Instead of following all the professional advice given this weekend about beating the heat, we went to a market! Granted, we got there early and a nice breeze kept us a little cooled off, so no one got overheated.

Every year, I try to go to the 720 Market. It’s location varies through North/Canton, Ohio throughout the year. Last year, I went to the fall one at a vineyard called Gervasi. It was absolutely beautiful, but my favorite since I’ve started going is in North Canton. They advertised over 110 tents, trucks, and trailers to be there and it did not disappoint. The whole downtown of North Canton was blocked off to give them enough room. There was cool off areas and plenty of vendors who offered water, fans, and much needed shade. In the middle, they had bands playing throughout the day and games in the yard beside.

Even though it was going to be super hot, my mom and brother’s fiancé joined Mila and I. Honestly, I was a little worried about how Mila would take the heat. She’s definitely likes to stay cool and can get a little bit of a temper when she’s hot. Good thing she learned how to say ‘hot’ during our trip to Savannah and Hilton Head so I’m not completely clueless about her needs. She didn’t just drop saying hot right away, but her red cheeks let me in on how hot it actually was.

Through the first section I bought some things for my house and my bathroom that’s getting remodeled… I’ll make sure to show you all when it’s done! We taste tested pickles and Mila ate her sample and looked for more. The more we walked, the redder her cheeks got. Someone suggested a popsicle stand to take her to, so off we went. The three of us adults got this coffee float thing and Mila got a nice messy popsicle.

If you couldn’t guess, messy was the keyword there. I should have definitely not picked a dark, blueberry one. BUT you live and learn. This picture makes me laugh so much, looks like she’s throwing up hand signs. The popsicle did the trick of cooling her off and gave her a little more pep in her step. She got out of the stroller and danced around to the music for awhile. Then pushed her stroller around… and hit about 100 people while she was at it.

We probably could’ve spent more time there, but we were all getting really hot. A few pictures later and we were off.

I’m really glad Mila did so well in the heat. Markets are so fun for me to go to and see how creative people can be. If you’re in the Ohio area, I would most definitely recommend the 720 Marker and I linked their Facebook page earlier in this post. If you’re in Ohio and have any other kid friendly marketplaces we should go to, let me know! I have a feeling we’ll be going more when the weather cools off.

For now, we’re soaking up all these summer vibes and enjoying everyday. We survived the heat wave this weekend and Mila’s enjoying our rainy day in.

Toddler Friendly Summer Bucket List – Paint Outside

Art is an experience, not an object.

-Robert Motherwell

Mila’s first painting was for Christmas. I wanted to do a craft with her, but she was too young to do something intense. So, I bought some red, green, and silver paint and a canvas and she went at it. In my perspective, it was so beautiful and festive. It made me smile and I had it hanging for way too long after Christmas. Since then, she’s done three others. They’re all different and each time she learns a new way to create.

I know I sound like I have a painting prodigy, I just love watching her create.

Yesterday felt like the perfect day to check something off of our bucket list. It wasn’t too hot like this weekend is supposed to be, but nice enough to be outside. I had picked up new summer, ‘mermaid’ paint for this project a few weeks before, so I just went with the flow.

Mila absolutely loves being outside and she’s only painted while sitting in her high chair. I was excited to see how’d she do and I was not disappointed.

For Mila, at her age, I put dots of color randomly on the canvas and gave her different sized brushes to start. She instantly went to each dot and started going. It was like she couldn’t take them not being drawn out and circled the canvas in a precise manner. Then I put different paints on her brush so she could see that’s where paint can come too. After getting rid of all that paint, she experimented with her hands… then the rest of her body. At one point I swear there was more paint on her body than the canvas. It’s a good thing we were outside. Then she figured out she could splat paint from the bottle. She shook and shook it to make an even bigger mess.

At the end, Mila created another beautiful painting and it wasn’t a huge clean up. She decided to run after the cat while I gathered everything up. When I went to take pictures of her and her artwork, she wasn’t the happiest with me. I’m guessing she was over getting her picture taken, but she has years left of me telling her to say cheese.

This has been one of my favorite bucket list items to do. We always have fun painting, but there’s just something about summertime and being outside.

I don’t know if she’ll grow up to like art or to keep doing this, so I’m making sure I keep all of these canvases. Making these memories are my favorite thing in the world. You bet that this new piece is hanging on my wall. It’s the first thing anyone who walks in my door sees. I hope one day she’ll be proud to see whatever she likes to do hung up and displayed. Hopefully she always knows how proud I am of her and how loved she is.

If you do decide to do this with your toddler, I’m just warning you, it took a while to get all the paint off. I had her play in the water and scrubbed the paint off her legs. A few hours later I found spots I missed, but we just made it apart of the fun. Don’t let the mess deter you. It’s well worth it.

And now on to the next adventure.

My Favorite Way to ‘Capture’ My Toddler.

Her ‘yeah right, I can’t be captured or contained, mom‘ look.

Okay… so the title of this blog post is a tad misleading. I’m definitely not in the business of setting up traps to keep Mila from messing with things she’s not supposed to have; although, it wouldn’t be a bad idea. Instead I’m talking about all the pictures I capture of her.

Let me put this in perspective for everyone. Currently, I have 10859 pictures on my camera roll. By the time this gets posted there will most definitely be more. I’m actually afraid to look how many pictures I have on Google Photos (which is an amazing app with unlimited space!), since it has all my pictures from college. Most of that gigantic number is pictures of Mila. I’m always snapping photos of her so I don’t forget a thing. She’s probably going to be pretty embarrassed of all of them when she’s older, but I’ll worry about that then. Even though I love Google Photos and feel like they’re safe on there, I still worry about losing them. I would be heartbroken if they all just went away. The one thing I regret with Jensen is not having enough pictures of him and we unfortunately lost one of them. So this is a big deal for me to capture and keep hers.

Before she turned one, I wanted to make a HUGE scrapbook of her first year, but I didn’t have time. Instead, I started browsing for photo book apps. After I compared a few of them, I chose to start using Shutterfly and all I can say is I wish I would have started using it earlier.

Every month you get a FREE 6×6 softcover book with 40 pages. It may seem a little small, but I love mine and have put all Mila’s month pictures in from her first year. I also upgrade it to the hardcover book which is a minimal charge. If you have the app, they always have freebies you can get to add to your order. I’ve bought three easel back canvases (a 5×7 canvas of a picture of your choice), a leather pocket that holds my cards for my phone, and other sized photo books too. The only negative to Shutterfly is the shipping prices. They’re not awful, I think I just hate paying for it.

Mila LOVES looking through her books and trying to say everyone’s names in them. For me, it’s so nice to actually look at hard copies of pictures. I don’t know about everyone else, but it’s a relief when I can just not have my phone on me for the night. When I want to look at pictures and not stare at my phone, I just flip through our photo books. I know it probably sounds lame, but they’re just so nice to have. It makes me miss the days where my family would get out the picture totes, look at as many as we could, and tell the stories behind them. I hope Mila and I will do the same when she gets older too… maybe with the pictures being more in order though. Sorry mom!

Honestly, I wish I would have started getting my free books as soon as they started doing it. I actually recommend people to Shutterfly as much as I can, especially to new moms. It’s awesome you can make the books from your phone and recap the month or whatever. Not saying that new moms have the time.. LOL.. moms have no time. BUT, I know how many pictures we take and love to see. So, when I got my notification today that I could order this months freebie, I knew I wanted to share about it on here in case someone didn’t know about their offers. Like I said before, there are a ton of other photo book apps out there too! If you use one of them, let me know about it and if they have great freebies too. I can’t ever have enough pictures in my house.

Mom Fail: Early Morning Edition.

Ever since Mila slept through the night (well mostly slept through), she’s liked to sleep in. The earliest she’ll wake up on her own is around 8, but usually around 9:30/10. After the initial wake up, she likes to be cuddled and ‘tells’ me about her dreams. Totally not complaining about her desire to sleep in… unless we have somewhere to be in the morning. This weekend happened to hold one of those times.

All week, I swore and told everyone I had to be up early on Saturday. We had to be in Zoar by 9am. I set alarms two days before and tried my hardest to get Mila to sleep early so she could wake up on time the days before too. On Friday, I set our outfits out, made overnight oats, and struggled to get her to sleep at a ‘normal’ bed time. Before I went to sleep, I triple checked to make sure the alarms didn’t somehow go off and you know I had 15 of them set to make sure we woke up.

Fortunately, everything went semi smooth on Saturday morning. I woke up when I needed to and got ready before Mila even stirred. When I woke her up, she did fairly well. I’m pretty sure she was still half asleep, but we got packed up and we’re on our way. Although everything went smooth, I was still running a little behind. After I passed Mila’s overnight oats back to her, I sent a text letting the person know I’d be a little late. I was about halfway to Zoar, so 15 minutes out, when I got her text back... turns out, our pictures were the next day, Sunday. I had completely read the previous message wrong and my mind was set. After the stress of making sure Mila was up and we got there at a decent time, I just started to laugh. This was just our luck and my little mom fail.

We ended up making my little mistake into an adventure by going to play at Tuscora Park and crossing another item off our bucket list. Mila absolutely loves going to different parks and even though we’ve been there before. She still had a blast. It’s fascinating to see how much she’s changed in her play and interactions with other kids.

She can’t quite get up the big slide, but refuses to sit in the baby swing. If kids are smaller than her, she’ll go up and try to touch them. If they’re bigger, she thinks she’s big too and tries to talk to them. No matter who’s around though, I’m still her safe place and home. She runs to me when she’s scared or upset or just needs a hug. That warms my heart more than anything and let’s me know she loves me no matter how much I mess up.

I love being that for her and I hope I always can be; even though I think she’ll be less and less forgiving when I get her up early for no reason.

If you’re wondering, Sunday went fantastically. She smiled for pictures, went to a birthday party, and got to play outside. She took TWO naps after fighting me to take one lately. We even had to wake up early this morning and she did so well. Hopefully tomorrow, the fourth day in a row, she does the same. Fingers crossed.

So instead of getting mad at myself for my early morning fail, Mila has taught me to not take everything so seriously and to make adventures out of missed ones (or ones that we were just way too early for).

I hope everyone had a great weekend! Mila and I have a busy week ahead and I can’t wait to share our next adventures; fails or not.

“Is She Your Only One?”

A few weeks ago, Mila and I went to the mall. It’s her favorite place to run around and play. On this particular day, she was waving at everyone around her and it prompted an older couple to strike up a conversation. They told me how cute and friendly she is. Asked how old she was and that she was big for her age. Then the inevitable question was asking…

“Is she your only one?”

The awkward silence that took place following this question was me deciding how I’d word my answer…

“Nope. She has an older brother. He’d be three.”

Usually the past tense sort of ends the questions, but then there are others who like to ask more.

“Oh, I bet they love to play with each other. Siblings make such good friends when they get older.”

I just thought, how do I get myself out of this conversation. I’m not embarrassed Jensen died and I advocate for him and stillbirth all the time, but I chose to just nod instead. It sort of felt like a loss, but I didn’t have the strength to say it out loud that day. The nod satisfied them and they went on to talk about how two kids is the best and they keep each other occupied. They kept going on and I just stopped listening and watched Mila smile and play.

Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if I just had said, my son died, then walked away. Would the face they would have made make me feel better? Would it have let them know their invasive questions can actually hurt those who’ve experienced loss and/or infertility? I think they would just think I was bitter and rude for outwardly expressing my grief and maybe that’s why I didn’t want to say anything.

There was a time in my grief, I would answer very direct that I had a son named Jensen and he died. So yes, I have children, but he’s not in my arms. Sometimes I think I did it for the shock factor and other times because I needed to talk about him out loud. Other times I’d love when people asked me because I wanted to talk about him and often they would share stories about their or someone close to them’s experience with loss.

It’s been a harder question to answer with Mila. I’ve always said that I have to kids and usually just speak about Jensen in the past tense and it’s clear with what’s happened. Sometimes I completely ignore them because a new response has came with Mila…

At least you have her with you.”

I’ve said many times throughout this blog that the ‘at least’ platitudes are the worst. It ALWAYS seems like a response when they find out I have both Jensen and Mila. Honestly, it hurts so bad to hear this. I’m so thankful I have her here with me, more grateful than anything, but there’s no at least with child loss.

Yes, I have her, but I also have her big brother too. He should be here. Jensen should be running around the mall with her, showing her the best places to be ornery. He should be giving her love and teaching her. Moms or dads shouldn’t have to bury their babies and siblings shouldn’t have to miss their brothers and sisters.

I wish I could be strong enough every time in answering the way ruin, “is she your only one?” by saying this: No. She’s not my only one. She has a big brother named Jensen, who’s in heaven. He should be here playing with her everyday and it’s devastating he’s not. I’m thankful to have her here with me, but wish he could be here too.

But we’re not strong everyday and not everyone gets the same answer. Some days I’m short and others I’ll talk about Jensen for as long as they’ll let me. I hope one day people will pick up on when someone’s comfortable with talking about children because it’s not an easy subject for everyone. Or there should be an understanding that babies die and it’s okay to talk about it. It shouldn’t be a taboo subject and for many of us, it’s our reality.

How do you answer this question or ‘do you have any kids?

Stars and Stripes: Beach Edition.

Fourth of July weekend did not go entirely as planned. By that, I mean it didn’t go at all how I thought it would.

I’ve spent every Fourth of July weekend in my hometown. There’s a parade, fireworks, and a big cookout. Heck, that’s why I picked a few things on our summer bucket list. So when my mom texted and asked if we wanted to go to the beach for the weekend instead, I was a little shocked. But, who can pass up the beach? So we packed up and headed to Savannah, Georgia, which is right by Tybee Island and Hilton Head.

Instead of outlining everything we did, I’ll just say we had a blast. I swear Mila gets more adventurous and hilarious every single day. It felt like we were either chasing after her or laughing with her.

One of the funniest things that kept happening is her saying her new word. The last two weeks she’s been learning the word ‘hot.’ Like if there’s coffee around or the stoves on, I tell her it’s hot and not to touch. Of course, she’s been experimenting on how to say it and it’s the cutest. Check the video at the end of the post to see what I’m talking about. Anyways, the first day we went to Tybee Island and we got her out of the truck. It was like 100 degrees out and like thick air. I don’t think Mila has ever experienced heat like that. My brother’s fiancée, Chelsea, was holding her and Mila she looked at her and just said ‘hooooooot,’ like it had finally clicked what hot actually meant. After that, every time we went outside, she had to let us know she felt the heat.

We also learned even when Mila’s teeth are hurting and the suns too intense for her to eat, she’ll always take a mouthful of sand. If the sand wasn’t in her mouth, it was all over her body or being thrown on someone else’s. It’s a good thing she likes the water because we were always going back in to get it off of her. As soon as we went back to land, she’d just cover herself again. We pick our battles as parents, don’t we?

No matter if she was covered in sand or pushing down sand castles, she was having a blast. Somehow after applying sunblock multiple times throughout the days, she still ended up with a perfect beach tan. The Fourth of July this year didn’t come with fireworks or a parade, but I think it was one of our best.

Even though Mila and I didn’t check off the expected bucket list items, we did check off beach day and made way more memories than I imagined. I wonder which ones we’ll get to next.

How did your holiday weekend go? And make sure to check out this cute video of Mila saying ‘hot.’

Toddler Friendly Summer Bucket List – Go On A Hike

This week is going to be full of crossing bucket list items off and today was no different. Although the Coshocton Three Rivers Bikeway might technically not be a hike, it is with a one year old. Good thing we had the best company in tow.

Located just outside of Roscoe Village in Coshocton, Ohio, the Three Rivers Bikeway is an easy walking, biking, and pushing a stroller path. It’s paved so it’s smooth sailing and wide enough to get around people too. Although we went on seemingly the hottest day of the year (not complaining), the water and trees provided us a nice breeze and shade. I didn’t keep a step count, but the trails around two miles long.

There were lots of benches and spots to picnic along the way. Locks that were once used for canals provide even more shade and exploration. I can definitely see lots of places to take pictures, maybe Mila and I will be back in the fall to do so.

The path circles a pretty big pond, which was beautiful. If you’re into fishing, there were spots to fish. We didn’t have our bathing suits, but the aquatics park was there. I was a little jealous of everyone swimming and even Mila was pointing to it. If you go and have extra time, I’d suggest going there or even taking a canal boat ride.

Although we just walked the pathway, it was really nice and gives kids a lot to look at. Mila was pointing to all the animals, trees and water areas. As I said, it was super hot or we would have probably explored more. One thing I wish I would have done was brought better bug spray. Mila didn’t get bit, but the mosquitoes attacked me. I’ll be itchy, but at least they didn’t get her. BUT I’d definitely recommend taking big spray and lots of water!

Afterwards, we went into Roscoe Village toneat at Warehouse Stein n Stein & Lock 27 Pub. My best friend went with us and it was his birthday too (happy birthday again to you!). If you go, definitely get the bacon and mac n cheese burger. It did not disappoint! The restaurant was kid friendly, even when Mila was grumpy and ready to leave.

We were there for a few hours, but could have easily spent all day here. I can imagine I’d be a great day trip when she’s older and can really experience all of what Roscoe Village has to offer.

I am DEFINITELY checking this off as a hike, but imagine we’ll go on more this summer. It’s another day to remember and so many memories were made.

Mila and I are both looking forward to this holiday weekend and will have another adventure to tell you about. We hope it’s a safe and fun one for you too.

If you have any other places (hikes, museums, or adventures in general) you’d think Mila and I would like, let me know in the comments!

Mila Visits the ER… Again.

I’ve went back and forth on whether I wanted to post about this incident due to some serious self-inflicted mom shaming. After Friday’s house cleanse, Mila, my mom, and I had to make another special trip the the emergency room. If you’re keeping tabs, that’s twice in one week.

It’s not a really elaborate story and it wasn’t anything super traumatic. Pretty much, after the house cleanse we went to my parents house and when we were leaving Mila almost fell down their porch steps. In efforts to save her from another fall and potential head injury, my mom grabbed Mila’s hand. As she grabbed her hand, she was still falling and her arm made a big POP. Instantly, she started screaming and crying. At home, it didn’t quit and when I tried to comfort nurse her, her arm popped again and there was no end of the screaming in sight. After a quick internet search and text messages, we packed our things and went to the hospital.

Let’s just say, the whole ride up I was worried.

Here we were again. I had no idea what the nurses and doctors thought of me. Mila has this huge black eye, scraps on her knee, and bruises. She plays hard all the time. I don’t limit what she does and do my best to keep her safe, but she’s a kid.

The first hour and a half was rough. We had an awful nurse who kept telling Mila she was fine and to just be quiet. I didn’t think she was the best person to have for a child who is only 14 months old and has no idea why she’s in pain… but whatever. Mila kept crying through everything and they didn’t have individual rooms since they were so busy. She just wanted held and comforted, so that’s what we did. During this time, she wouldn’t let anyone touch or arm or couldn’t put pressure on it. They ordered X-rays, but we just had to wait.

Then, all of the sudden, something switched. My mom had to step outside and when she did, Mila decided she wasn’t hurt anymore.

She started playing with me and pushing off on this with her ‘bad arm.’ I immediately knew her accident wasn’t as bad as we originally thought. Then when my mom walked back in and Mila pointed and said ‘Gi,’ it was all over.

At around 12:40am, Mila took part in ‘walking’ my mom, playing at the table, and took part in running a half marathon. No joke on this. She ran for like 45 minutes straight. I was tired watching her.

She did a great job of entertaining everyone else in the waiting room too. Everyone got waved and talked too. They were laughing and smiling with her, which I think helped them waiting too. Even though I was exhausted watching her is always a treat.

I ended up opting out of getting her an X-ray and the doctor agreed with me. Around 1:15am we got a room and she got checked out again. The doctor said it sounded like Mila had nurses elbow, which is a dislocation around the wrist. There’s way more technical terms and a better description but that’s the best I got. She said it sounds like it dislocated when mom tried to grab her and popped back in when I was comforting her. It’s a common thing that can happen and I’m guessing Mila will frequent the ER throughout her childhood too.

Before the night played out like it did, I seriously thought CPS was going to be called on me. I’ve really let myself feel bad for her black eye and falling off the counter. Then being back in the hospital again… it made me feel like an awful parent. I just keep reminding myself that I just have an adventurous baby and things just happen.

So here’s another look into our life and this messy business of motherhood. No matter how crazy our life is, I wouldn’t change it for the world.