Motherhood freed me.

Last month, I saw a post by Avery’s Garden asking for submissions of creative grief. The prompt was, “What does motherhood look like to you?”

For me, motherhood has been complicated and full of ups and downs.

In the beginning, I was stripped away from physically mothering Jensen. I will never be able to fully explain that pain and how it will always linger. I’ve tried hundreds of time, but there are no words.

As the months and years have went past, my motherhood has evolved.

I have Mila and we remember Jensen each day. With the two of them, I parent and honor them so different. I’ve changed the way I look at my motherhood too.

Here’s how I see my motherhood this year…

Through the grief and nakedness
of losing the biggest part of me,
planted a seed.

Out of that pain and emptiness
came all the growth and beauty.
Motherhood freed me.

I’m definitely not an artist, but I enjoyed painting and creating. When I look at this piece, I think of how far I’ve come and how much love I give every day.

Motherhood isn’t a pretty thing. It’s hard and is never perfect. Somehow through it all, it’s freed me.

I couldn’t imagine a life without them. Everyday I’m glad they chose me to be their mom.

Mommy Recipe: Pink Whitney Lemonade

If you’re looking for a cool summer drink to enjoy during the hot months, you’ll love this Pink Whitney Lemonade.

Funny story, Mila calls any ‘drink’ I have ‘on my juice.’ It’s a really hilarious way for her to know not to drink what I’m drinking. I think it’s also nice that she thinks it’s just my juice and she has her juice.

Thankfully, she’s not that curious and respects that it’s mine. A little parenting win, right?

Anyways, back to the goods. You’ll love this mommy juice recipe that’s good for anyone who likes adult beverages that you can taste the alcohol.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 3/4 cup of Pink Whitney Vokda
  • Ice
  • 1 cup of Lemonade
  • 1 Pink lemonade Kool Aid mix pack
  • Lemon
  • Blender

Honestly guys, I pretty much eyeballed this drink so the measurements aren’t exact. When I make drinks, I do a lot of taste tests!

All you have to do is put a ton of ice in your blender, then all of the other ingredients.

Mix them all until they’re the consistency of a slushee. For extra tartness, I put lemon slices around the glass and to garnish.

This drink is easy to make and goes down smoothly. I feel like they will be DANGEROUS this summer while by the pool or around fires. It’s so yummy, I’ll take the chance though.

Let me know what your favorite parent juice or summer drink is in the comments.

But first, check out these other moms go to drink recipes:

Toddler Activity: Frida Kahlo Portrait

In celebration of Cinco de Mayo, femininity, and art, Mila learned more about one of my favorite historical woman: Frida Kahlo. Of course, we had to do a craft of a Frida portrait; just with a toddler spin.

If you don’t know about Frida, she’s truly an amazing woman. Her history was tragic, but her perseverance to keep going against all odds really speaks to me. Through everything, she became one of Mexico’s greatest artists. She did a ton of self portraits, which is why we honored her this way.

Now, I understand Frida has NOTHING to do with Cinco de Mayo. This holiday commemorates Mexico’s unlikely defeat over France in 1862. Since then, it’s turned into a huge celebration.

With Mila being three, I don’t feel completely comfortable talking about war with her yet. It’s still a great way to teach her about Mexican culture. Frida is a huge cultural icon and since we love learning about art, it felt perfect.

Anyways, you can look up all kinds of information about CInco de Mayo and Frida all over the internet. Now it’s time to get to our little craft.

Here’s what you’ll need:

Honestly, i wish I had a free printable for everyone to make this craft a little easier. The elements in this project are a little detailed, but the end result is worth it.

To prep for this craft, I drew the different elements of Frida’s face on the construction or craft paper. They don’t have to be perfect. I think the more unique it is with its imperfections, the more it connects with Frida and her work.

I drew Frida’s hair, nose, eyes, and unibrow on black construction paper. Her lips on red scrapbook paper. The accessories on yellow scrapbook paper. Her body is made out of brown construction paper and the dress out of floral scrapbook paper.

Once everything was drawn, I cut them out.

Since we used a canvas, I hot glued Frida’s body and part of her hair down. Then, it was all up to Mila.

She has seen Frida and her artwork for her entire life. We read books with her in them, but I showered her a picture before she started. After, I asked if she could make her face.

Honestly, she did a great job. She loved talking about the different parts of her face and was in love with the flowers. I think she said Frida about a thousand times too. It amazes me that she picks up on all these new words.

I think she did a really good job. She put it in a prime spot for all to see! I love that she loves all her hard work.

Plus, it was a fun way to celebrate Cinco de Mayo.

Tonight we’ll be enjoying tacos and I’ll have a margarita. We love to celebrate these holidays and learn all about new culture.

Let us know what you think about this Frida craft and how you celebrate Cinco de Mayo!

Before you go, check out how these moms celebrate Cinco de Mayo and Mexican heritage.

Toddler Activity: DIY Star Wars Slime

May the Fourth be with you… okay, Happy Star Wars Day! To celebrate this fun little holiday, Mila and I made slime for the first time. We had a blast with our little DIY and I loved introducing her to slime and the force.

If you’ve never made slime or hate how sticky some recipes are, this one was actually great. It was a few simple steps that’ll make you actually want to make slime with your kids.

Here’s what you’ll need:

The first thing to do is empty out the entire bottle of glue in a bowl. We did glow in the dark glue with sparkles in it. I thought it would be unique and it reminded me of Star Wars.

To get all of the glue out, I cut the bottle in half and spooned out what wouldn’t come out.

Then, add the baking soda to the glue. You’ll need to mix this up and it starts to get really thick. Mila loved helping mix it at this stage, as well as pouring everything into the bowl. I did end up having to help her at this point because it did get difficult.

After it’s mixed together, add food coloring to it. We chose purple because it’s on of Mila’s favorite colors, but it’s reminds us of space and galaxies. Of course, we added more sparkles too.

Next, add the contact solution.

This will make the slime almost impossible to mix. It immediately clung to the spoon when we started mixing it. After a minute, I ended up mixing the slime with my hands. It was way better kneading it with both of my hands.

Although our slime wasn’t sticky, you could add more contact solution if needed.

Mila was a part of the entire process, but it was still fun to present it to her with Star Wars stickers. She loved pressing the stickers into the slime and asking what all of their names were.

We talked about the characters being in space and that’s what the slimed looked like. It’s great because she knows that the moon and sun are in space. She might not grasp the entire concept of space yet, but it’s fun seeing her learn more about our universe each day.

As much as we had fun talking about Star Wars and space, Mila really just had a blast playing with the slime!

With how well our first slime making experience went, we will definitely be making more in the future too. It was also such a fun way to get Mila started with the Star Wars universe. I’ll love it when she is old enough to watch the series with me. If I had to guess, Princess Leia buns will be next.

What’s your favorite slime recipe and do you enjoy the Star Wars films?

Before you go, check out how strong the force is with these DIY moms and their kids.

Making Over Motherhood: My Battle with Maternal Mental Health

With the Mother’s Day soon, everyone is celebrating motherhood. Yet, there is a side of motherhood not a lot of people talk about. It’s the maternal mental health challenges that 1 in 5 women face each year in the U.S. This statistic is why Maternal Mental Health Week is so important to recognize.

Mothers all over the U.S. are sharing their stories of maternal mental health and making over motherhood.

In the picture of Mila and I, you might see me as a mother who is comforting her child. We’re all dressed up for pictures and beautifully done. The things that you can’t see are what makes motherhood so challenging. You don’t see my son who should be five and helping Mila take pictures. There’s an endless amount of tears that I’ve shed to get to this point. You’d never understand the turmoil and challenges it took to get to this one moment.

No one can outwardly see mental health issues. As a mother, we instinctually put our children’s needs before ours. Our mental health can slip and slide away.

I am the 1 in 5 who have faced maternal mental health disorders.

Throughout my time on this blog, I haven’t been shy about talking about my anxiety, depression, and PTSD that I faced after Jensen’s birth. What I didn’t expect was postpartum depression after having Mila.

How could I not be happy and joyous after having a living child? I didn’t have to plan a funeral or never see her again. All the things I had wished for after Jensen’s birth was happening with her. She would be growing and learning. It felt so unnatural to not be in love with the time after she was born.

But, I wasn’t. I loved her and wanted all the best things for her, but I couldn’t be happy.

I think I cried more than I smiled that first year. It was hard to even get on a schedule or do certain things. If I wasn’t sad, I had horrible anxiety.

There were constant thoughts of her dying and all the scenarios that could play out. I honestly felt crazy. It didn’t feel like anyone else had these thoughts with their newborn. It was isolating, just like I felt after Jensen’s birth.

Except, after I had Jensen, I gained a community that helped and uplifted me as much as they could.

With Mila, I felt completely alone.

Now that she’s three and Jensen would be five, I’ve lived with anxiety and depression for quite a while. I’ve talked to my new therapist for a year and she’s been a big help with my mental health. It makes me wish I would have gotten help sooner.

We all live in a world where social media rules all. People can project to you happy faces and times, but there’s a side to a people’s lives we don’t see. Not talking about maternal mental health and the challenges of motherhood can be especially damaging to new moms. They might think their emotions to how they’re handling motherhood is wrong, but it’s not.

As a mother who has lived through their child die and then dealt with intense mental health issues after their living child, I’m here to tell all mothers, they’re not alone.

It’s time to make over motherhood. That doesn’t mean putting our best foot forward on social media or how we present ourself to the world. It means showing the struggle and letting others know there is help out there.

Please know you’re not alone in your maternal mental health struggles. Reach out for help if you need it. You deserve the same love and care you give your child.

I promise, you’re worth it.

Here’s some information about Maternal Mental Health Week. If you can, share some information to help another mom out. If you’re feeling brave, you can share your story too.

You are never alone.

Resources:

DIY Fairy-Tale Garden

April shower bring May flowers. To celebrate just that, we’re welcoming May with our very own DIY Fairy-Tale Garden.

Mila is obsessed with fairy gardens. My parent’s neighbor has the little fairy figurines in their garden and Mila goes to play with them every day. I figured she should have one of her very own since she likes them so much.

Since we love our fairytales, I thought a little spin on the idea would be fun for Mila’s imagination.

One day after work, we went to our local Lowe’s and picked out flowers that made her smile. She loves pink and purple so all the flowers are just that. I also encouraged her to pick some non-flowering plants as well.

I also purchased filling snd too soil at Lowes’s. At our dollar store, Mila picked out a princess castle to place in her fairytale garden.

Then we started digging.

I most definitely should have taken before pictures, but we were too excited to start.

We picked the tree in our backyard to make the fairytale garden. It has a few hosta and wildflowers already there, so we left them. We did clean up the area by taken out the weeds.

The area also needed built up. We used a ton of fill dirt and top soil so our plants and flowers could thrive.

One word of advice for all toddler parents is to buy your toddler their own little shovel. Mila had so much fun digging holes and helping along the way.

She also found rocks to lead up the the castle. We’re going to try and get more to put around the circle too.

We brought out plastic toys that won’t be impacted by the weather out. Mila was also gifted a gnome set to place here too. It’s going to be a mixture of all things magical.

Just like a fairytale.

I’m so excited to see how the garden and Mila’s imagination grows this summer. We are constantly outside, so I know this little area will be well loved. She’s even already showed it off to her friend who lives close.

With a little hard work, there will be a summer full of fun.

Some key items we needed to make our fairytale garden were these:

I hope that if you want an outdoor place space like this, you’re able to make one. It could have easily been made into a big pot that could be brought inside for winter too!

If you end up making a fairy or fairy-take garden, I’d love to see or hear about it!

Do you have any gardening memories that you did with a parent, grandparent, or any other important individual in your life?

Before you go, check out how these moms incorporated fairytales in their children’s play:

Toddler Activity: DIY Mother’s Day Watercolor Cards

If you’re like me, you might be running a little behind getting Mother’s Day presents. One thing I always seem to forget is the card! This year, try these DIY watercolor cards!

These are a fun way to share your child’s creativity and a way for you to get involved too. Mila loved seeing our creations and I know they’ll be a hit. This could also be a great tradition to start with your children too. They could end up just making them for you as they get older.

All you need is:

This activity is pretty easy.

Go to an area or set up one that you’re okay with paint getting on. Then lay everything out. This specific water color paint was already mixed up. This made it easier for Mila so she didn’t have to dip her brushes in water first.

After, let them paint whatever they would like. There’s no right or wrong way for them to paint or create these.

Once they’re done with a specific card, have them sprinkle salt on the paint. Not only does this help it dry, it creates an amazing texture to the cards. Plus, it’s a little science experiment that your child will love!

They can continue with their painting and salt.

When the salt is dried, you and your child can rub it off. They’ll love seeing how it looks and Mila was in awe of how the salt was colored too.

The next part is up to you. If your child is older, you can instruct them to draw flowers or something that reminds them of the female figures in their lives. Mila wasn’t interested in this, so I personally drew flowers that flowed with her painting. It’s so much fun to take their creations and help make it even more special.

I ended up taping the paintings to cards. On the inside, I wrote a special note for each of Mila’s cards and had her sign it.

They turned out so cute and I really love them. Mila loved the outcome of her cards and was so proud of her painting. I think seeing it all come together helped complete her vision. As always, she will be so excited for her loved ones to receive them.

Honestly, I’m keeping one for myself so I can see how Mila’s art skills grow. Plus, I’m just as proud of her as she is of herself.

If you end up trying this activity, let me know in the comments. Make sure to tag me on Instagram if you share on there too.

What are your favorite types of Mother’s Day gifts?

6 Life Lessons from a Three Year Old.

photo by simplicity of grace.

I always thought motherhood was teaching your children about the ins and outs of life.

We teach them to walk, talk, and be functional humans. Or that’s the goal. Through their trials, we help encourage them to become better people and learn from what life hands them.

My unconventional start to motherhood sort of took that away from me. I learned so much from Jensen and his death that I would have never imagined. With Mila, I thought it’d be me doing all the teaching, not the learning. In many ways, being her mom has surprised me.

As much as I’ve taught her and helped encourage her to become the sassy three year old that she’s become, she’s made me into a whole new person.

With Bereaved Mother’s Day and Mother’s Day coming up the next two weekends, I’ve been thinking a lot about my motherhood. Jensen has taught me so much about love and living fully. I’ve talked about it extensively through this outlet. This morning, as Mila hugged me not to go, all the lessons she’s taught me have flooded my head.

Here’s just a few.

It’s okay.

One thing Mila did not get from me is anxiety. She is the most steady person I know and it’s a beautiful combination with us two.

When she needs comforted, I’m there for her. I never thought kids could do the same thing. Yet, anytime I’m upset, she comes over and just says, ‘it’s okay.’ Then she’ll shush me and just give me a tight squeeze. This act of hers has taught me so much about patience and realizing the moment will go away.

Anytime I’m feeling stressed when she’s not around, I remember her sweet voice and that seems to help make a lot of things feel okay.

Laugh at the little things.

All I have to do is give our dog a certain look and Mila laughs wildly.

Mila’s taught me not to take life so seriously. After Jensen died, it was hard to laugh freely. With her, she just demands humor and lightness. She’ll do things just to make other people laugh. Or when she’s upset, I know if she laughs once, she’ll be much better.

The mix of seriousness and lightness has balanced out the last three years. She’ll always be the one who giggles at the the little things. I’m happy for that.

Just be you.

In a world where social media dominates, it’s hard to just be yourself. Influencers and the media try to sway us constantly, but Mila has taught me the opposite.

She doesn’t understand advertisements and social media yet, but she’s the opposite force. When I look at her, I see so much uniqueness and individuality, I would never want her to be like anyone else. Just herself. I reflect on that often and encourage her to do follow her ways.

Then, I think about how I can apply that to myself and others around me. I want those that I love (and beyond) to just be them. For me, I just want to be me. There’s not code to follow or correct way to live. The most beautiful person we can be is just ourselves.

Every time I look at her, I’m reminded of that.

Live in the moment.

Mila has taught me to see the world completely differently.

The main way is to live in the moment. I can have 100 things planned out, but she pulls me into the present like no other. It’s funny because I could be doing work and she says, “watch me.” Sometimes I tell her to wait, but then I realize, I can never get this moment back with her. So, we pretend and play and just live.

Work will always be there and it gets done, just a little bit later.

We’re in this together.

I know moms, even myself, complain about never having any alone time. It’s exhausting, so of course Mila and I are in this together.

But, that’s not what I mean.

At three, I have such serious conversations about what she wants for our life too. We decide on where we want to go or what we want to eat. We’ve talked about different vacations or what plants to buy too.

It sounds silly since she’s three, but this is her life and childhood too. Together, we have to make it the very best it can be. When she’s happy, I am too.

We’re in this life and growing together.

Love.

The one thing children bring unconditionally is love.

Love, love, love.

I love Jensen and Mila more than anything. Mila has physically showed me how kids love outwardly. It isn’t in the moments everyone sees or knows about. Even though she’s in a “I like you” stage, she always nods her head when I say, “do you mean love?” back to her.

Love isn’t in her words though. It’s in the hugs where she tells me it’s going to be okay, her laughter that fills the room, and the fruit snacks and juice she brings to bed for us.

She’s taught me how love can glue back a broken heart and even leave space for more.

In these three years, sometimes I get confused about who’s taking care of who. As much as I help her grow, she helps me grow too. I love being her and Jensen’s mom.

What big life lessons have your children taught you?

Explore the Fountain of Dogs in Mount Vernon, Ohio.

It’s no secret that Mila and I love to explore. Whether it’s in our backyard or a different country, we love adventure. So, finding a Fountain of Dogs wasn’t too out of the ordinary.

Located at South Main Plaza in Mount Vernon, Ohio, sits 18 dogs all spitting water to a golden bone.

We were in town visiting a plant store and after looking for a place to eat. It was quite eye catching to drive by this… playful fountain. I was surprised Mila didn’t see it.

After dinner, we walked around the block and her eyes got so big as she took in the fountain.

If I hadn’t had a hold of her hand to cross the road, she would’ve ran right up to it. For a little girl who LOVES animals, she was impressed.

Upon further inspection, there was a variety of different dogs. Four you could touch and the rest were in the fountain. But, they all were pining for the golden bone in the middle.

There’s also a cat, horse, and two birds that are around the fountain too. They’re not so interested in the bone.

Around the fountain are plenty of benches and it’s a clean place to just relax.

Honestly, if we lived in Mount Vernon, I could imagine eating lunch here during the summer. It’s beautiful, fun, and quite peaceful.

Although if you’re a toddler… there’s no relaxing.

Mila gave every dog or animal she could get to equal attention. She loved putting her hands in the water and trying to get me wet. We were there for about forty-five minutes and I think she ran and climbed the entire time.

When we had to leave, Mila was heartbroken. I reminded her of the plants in our car and she was happy to get them back home. Before we left, she said goodbye to every dog.

We had to get one last picture too.

It was one of the most unusual fountains I’ve ever seen, but I’m glad I got to see it with Mila.

I plan on going back to the plant place and I’m pretty sure the Fountain of Dogs will be on our list of places to stop, maybe for lunch.

If you’re ever in Ohio and love roadside attractions, the Fountain of Dogs is a cute place to go. No matter your age or if you’re a dog lover or not, it’s something to be seen!

What’s your favorite roadside attraction in your state or beyond? Maybe Mila and I will have to go visit!

Toddler DIY: Painted Flower Pots

Don’t scramble this Mother’s Day to come up with gift. Try these DIY painted flower pots to give to your loved ones.

Not only are they easy to make, it’s adorable watching your child pick out the plants for it.

Plants are great gifts to give because they keep growing! It’s extra special to get a personalized pot as well. The combo makes a beautiful present and you’ll toddler will be proud to gift it.

Here’s everything you’ll need:

Most of these items, you probably have at your house. If you don’t have any extra pots laying around, terracotta pots are inexpensive and can be found at most stores. Another option is to use plastic ones too.

To personalize the pots, I added stickers to it before we painted. This is completely up to you!

Then it was time to set up.

I laid a sheet of parchment paper down on my island. Just so there wasn’t paint everywhere like her Earth Day painting.

Next, I had her let me know what color paint she wanted to do. Another great way to practice her color recognition, which she has nailed! But, it’s always fun listening about her favorite color. I ended up putting all the colors on a plate.

After everything was set up, I instructed her to paint all over the pots.

It took her a little bit to get both of them done.

All of the colors got mixed together too. It made a beautiful green color, but it’s a good word of caution if you don’t want all the colors together.

We let the pots dry and took a nap. I should’ve tried to pull the stickers off before we fell asleep though!

When I removed them, the paint stuck. Of course.

To fix this, I ended up just using permanent markers to fix it. This happens with DIYs. Nothing will ever turn out perfect, but I just love them.

After everything’s dried and the way you’d like it, it’s time to pick the plant or flowers.

I have a ton of plants that need ‘real pots,’ not just nursery pots. Yes, yes. I’m most definitely a crazy plant lady at this point!

Honestly though, I think these turned out so cute. I love how mine turned into a rainbow, marble piece and my mom’s is a nice blue and green swirl. They’re both made with so much love.

You and your toddler can easily make these pots in an afternoon. They’ll make anyone smile to receive!

Let me know what you think about these pots in the comments. If you DIY them, tag me on Instagram: @greyskies.rainbowhighs. I can’t wait to see your and your toddler’s creativity.

Before you go, check out what these other moms are doing for Mother’s Day this year…