This is Two.

Mila turned two yesterday! Celebrating during a pandemic was something I’d never even thought would happen. She didn’t miss a beat though! When we first woke up, I sung happy birthday to her and the rest of the morning she danced and sang. During breakfast, she requested to watch ‘Anna,’ which is Frozen. It was such a fun morning, I’ll never forget it.

I will say, it seems like between Monday night and Tuesday morning, Mila learned a bunch of new phrases and words. It seems silly, but it’s like as soon as she turned two she jumped further into toddlerhood. I know she’s been expanding her vocabulary, but it felt like a huge leap! She’s been saying, ‘what the heck’ and ‘what happened’ over and over.

Anyways, we ended up doing a little photoshoot. If you don’t follow me on other social media, we celebrated with ‘Taco Twosday.’ Our little setup was fiesta inspired and even had a homage to the coronavirus. It was funny and made me laugh. Mila looked so cute. She was supposed to wear a little sombrero, but REFUSED to keep it on. There were so many cute pictures and I’m glad, now, we took them.

Let me tell you… anything with patience and staying still is not Mila’s forte. She is a runner and moves constantly. It was a workout to get the pictures I did. Midway through, she had a completely toddler tantrum to the point I made her lay down to take a break. That break turned into a two hour nap. BUT, I loved the pictures we got and the memories we made. Two can be difficult. Lots of emotions and things going on in her head!

Afterwards, we had a little fiesta at my parents house. My dad and Mila share their birthday. I remember when I was in labor, he was hoping they’d have the same birthday and said it was the best gift. Its heartwarming to me that they have this bond.

Mila is obsessed with blowing out candles and made us relight them two or three times. I made her cake and my mom made my dads. Obviously you can see the little finger swipes in Mila’s cake. I wish I could’ve heard her thoughts because she thought it was amazing she had her own cake.

After dinner, cake, and presents, we had gotten a piñata for her to hit. It was pure comedy. She had a piñata stick and everything. For some reason, she was in this hunter/spear fisher pose to hit it. (I’ll post one of the videos) Honestly, I want to go get another piñata for her to just take her aggression out. We let her play with it for like fifteen minutes until we broke it. She would’ve easily played with it for a lot longer! Just a little heads up if you’re looking for something for your toddler to do. Would not recommend keeping the stick in reach, since she chased me around the house with it today.

I won’t go on forever about the day, but I truly was so special. There are times parenting is so hard and days like this make all those moments seem so not important. Seeing her smile and just be happy is unexplainable.

It’s hard to believe she is two, but it’s here. I can’t wait to see what this year has in store for her.

Yesterday while she napped, I wrote this…

This is TWO.

This is pure madness at every corner. This is growing. This is having fun. This is pushing the limits. This is her becoming the person she is meant to be.

Her two doesn’t look like anyone else’s two and I’m so happy for that. No matter where this next year takes us, I know she’ll blossom in all she does.

Toddler Approved Easter Egg Lunch.

Happy Monday everyone!

Mila and I had such a great Easter Day. When she woke up, she immediately asked for ‘bun bun’ and wanted to find her basket. She absolutely LOVED all her gifts, especially the chocolate, and we just had a fun day. I was surprised how much she loved the Easter egg hunt. After the initial one, I had to hide eggs three more times.

Honestly, it was so different than any other holiday, but I loved it. I’ll just spam you with some pictures here instead of making a post later today.

Seriously, such a great day., with the most random pictures ever.

With Easter, well in my house, comes all the hard boiled eggs. For lunch today, I was just staring in my fridge wondering what I could make with them. As usual, I went on Pinterest and found some inspiration.

I saw these little hard boiled egg sandwiches, that I thought would be perfect. Mila isn’t huge on bread for sandwiches or anything. When she eats, it’ll be like random slices of cheese and cuts of turkey and ham. I knew she was really enjoying hard boiled eggs yesterday for breakfast and knew I could put other things on there she’d like.

In my fridge, I found bacon, tomatoes, and avocados. Better known as a recipe for success. I fried the bacon, cut everything up, and built our little sandwiches. I only cut up two eggs, but should’ve done way more.

Of course, I added cheese and different seasonings. I feel like I always use salt, pepper, and paprika.

Turns out, Mila liked the mini sandwiches more than I could imagine. I only got to eat one of them and she mauled the others. Surprisingly, she didn’t even share with Max!

It’s a simple lunch recipe you can make with your left over eggs. The longest part of it was making the bacon and if you didn’t have bacon, it’d still be good with left over ham or turkey from Easter or whatever lunch meat you had in your fridge.

So serious about keeping her food to herself.

We have about four eggs left, so I’ll probably try to come up with something new to do for dinner or lunch tomorrow. If you have any recipes, send them my way!

Tomorrow is Mila’s second birthday! I’m feeling pretty emotional about it, but I know it’s going to be a great day. I can’t wait for everyone to see what we have planned.

If you try the egg sandwiches, let me know. I loved hearing everyone’s go with the French onion grilled cheese!

Toddler Activity: Easter Watercolor Cards

Hello again today! I’m actually surprised I’ve had time to write twice today and get everything that I’ve gotten done, done.

SO the title of this post is a little deceiving. Mila didn’t actually make this completely by herself. I did the cutting, taping, and lettering. She did the painting part and then went to play. If she was a little older, like preschool age, I think she would have been able to do a lot more. The cutting is a little advanced, but I love perfectly imperfect crafts made by kids.

This was her first time experimenting with watercolor. She loves to paint, but usually uses craft paint. I was pretty impressed with how she did with the extra steps. She kept wanting to put her brush in the water, then paint, then back to the water. I ended up painting with her to show her how it went. For some reason, she was feeling the cool colors.

While she was off playing, I traced a bunny onto the paper. I used the same bunny outline as the one she did in her painting a few days ago. Then, I taped it on the back of Kraft paper and that onto random scrapbook paper too.

I took scrap white paper and taped it on the scrap paper to write on it as well.

This card turned out so cute. I actually am going to make myself one tonight, without the writing, to just have a keepsake for the year. If you find yourself missing family or have some free time tomorrow, this is a fun, easy craft that can be made adapted to any age.

It would be nice to send to relatives if you can’t see them tomorrow. Maybe I should’ve posted this earlier, but there’s always next year!

Again, wishing you all a happy and safe Easter Day.

My Toddler Stay Up Past Her Bedtime… This Is What Happened.

Toddlers and bedtimes, don’t really mix. They put it off and find any excuse they can to stay up just five more minutes. It can be so frustrating when they don’t sleep. For some of us, it’s our only alone time during the day. It’s the time we need to stay sane, especially being cooped up inside all day.

Last night, I let Mila stay up way past her bedtime. It wasn’t even the ‘let’s just go lay down’ stay up. She was cleaned up and in her pajamas. We put all her toys away and put the unfolded laundry she threw around today back in the basket. When all of that was done, I asked her if she was ready for bed, which she simply replied, “no.”

I just looked at her and she was so sure of her answer that I complied.

Did I need a break last night? Absolutely. We had a full day and I was mentally exhausted. I needed to continue writing my final papers and fold all the laundry and everything else that had to be cleaned up before the start of today. And just because it’s good for your mental health to have time for yourself.

But her big eyes just stared into mine as she waited for my response. I surprised her with my answer… I asked her what movie she wanted to watch. She finally decided on the live-action Lady and the Tramp, thank you Disney+. I turned it on, she climbed up on the couch, while I went to get snacks… pretzels and Nutella. Both of our favorite snacks, except she’d just prefer to take a big spoon and eat all the Nutella. Somehow she gets it all over her face no matter what; can’t say I blame her though.

Pinky out, of course.

Guess what happened next?

We enjoyed the movie, laughed together, and snuggled. I noticed her new words that she picked up and how she is starting to put together more complex sentences. She watched my expressions during certain parts of the movie and mimicked them. When there were sad parts, I saw how she reacted and during the funny parts, I think anyone would smile if they heard the sweet sound of her laugh. When the movie was over, I gave her a drink of water, told her to brush her teeth, and that it was time for bed.

There wasn’t any fight or pouting. She did what I asked of her and was asleep within five or ten minutes. When I went to get up, she didn’t even flinch.

Did I get as much time to myself as I wanted? No, but what I experienced was so much better.

It’s hard being a mom. Sometimes I can get so in the moment of feeling lost or overwhelmed that I don’t realize what the moment is actually about. I got to focus just on Mila and, I guess, the movie, but mainly on her. She got my undivided attention without a craft in front of us or at dinner or any agenda. It was just her and I in our magical moment. I get ahead of myself, a lot, and just being right there with nothing else on my mind was so relaxing. I’ll never get tonight back, but I’m thankful for the way I spent it.

Will her staying up later (on purpose) be an everything occurrence, probably not. She gets grumpy and so do I. Again, we need our time apart because we spend all day, everyday together… not that I’d have it any other way.

What I did learn was the laundry was still waiting for me and will never, ever end in my entire life. The mess was still there, but cleaned up quickly. My papers are still unwritten and if I’m being honest with myself, I probably would have found something else to do anyways.

The reality is there’s no rulebook on parenting. There’s no rulebook on being an adult either. We’re all just making it up as we go and do what’s best for us. There are days we do what we can to get by and others where we have to structure the entire day to get what we need done. One isn’t more right than the other, it’s just how it is.

Our other reality is time isn’t slowing down. Sometimes I look at Mila and can’t believe how grown up she’s gotten, seemingly overnight. I feel like I say this over and over again, but these days don’t last forever. Before I know it, I’m not going to have a toddler that loves to cuddle with me and just wants to see my reaction to Lady and the Tramp. She’s never going to be this little again and as much as I try to make memories. they’ll only be that so soon. No matter how she grows, I hope that radiant smile and booming laughter always stays with her. Deep down, I hope she always wants to share pretzels and Nutella with me while we have a movie night, I’ll keep on letting her pick the movie too.

I let my toddler stay up past her bedtime and it was one of the best nights.

Toddler Activity: Salt Dough

When I first thought about doing Easter crafts, I wanted to get wooden Easter eggs to paint. With everything going on, I didn’t want to leave my house with Mila and chance anything. Instead, I started seeing recipes for salt dough and knew I had everything on hand. I just didn’t realize they were going to be such a labor of love.

The salt dough recipe I used was:

1 cup flour

1/2 cup salt

1/4 to 1/2 cup of water

Then, preheat over to 200 and bake for hours*

Simple enough right? I measured out all the ingredients the night before we made the dough so it was ready to go for Mila and me.

Mila loved mixing the ingredients together. She insisted on pouring everything in and using the spoon to mix it. When I told her to use her hands, she gave me a weird look and ran away. Funny enough, she went to put her hands in the dirt, which I guess is better in her eyes? Anyways, I kneaded the dough until I thought it was good enough. Since it was our first time, I wasn’t exactly sure how it needed to be, but we went with it. It reminded me of pizza dough.

After I had rolled it out and was ready to cut, dilemma there… mila was ready to help out again. I wanted to make eggs shapes, but it turns out I only have Christmas cookie cut outs and rainbow/unicorn/magic ones. I ended up using the top of a mason jar, grabbing the top of it to stretch the dough out in an egg-like shape. Obviously it wasn’t perfect, but it worked out for us.

Along with a few weirdly, shaped eggs, I had Mila make two little handprints as well. I only have a few hand and foot prints of Mila since she’s been born. I thought it was a perfect time to do it for us, since she turns two here so soon. She kept saying ‘hand’ and wanted to make more prints. I do think I’ll try to make salt dough hand imprints every year since she enjoyed it and to mark her growth.

Anyways, the handprints and eggs were formed and ready for the oven. Up until this point, I thought it was all going really well.

I kept checking the ornaments every hour. After a couple hours, I still didn’t feel like they were done completely. They still felt mushy and maybe I just didn’t do it right? Or maybe they would’ve hardened up after I took them out of the oven? I’m really unsure where I messed up, but I had them in the oven for a crazy amount of time. Probably like seven hours in all. Next time I try to make something like this, I’m going to see if it was just a first time fluke or maybe I’m just bad at making them.

After they were finally done, I spray painted them white and let Mila paint most of the eggs and her hands, but one, because I really wanted to join the fun.

I think they turned out amazingly, especially after everything and all the time we put in them. Mila loves holding her hand. This Easter craft will be something Mila and I look back on in the future and smile about. I feel like it’ll always be excited to pull them out and see what she did when she was almost two!

Ever since she was born, I knew I wanted to make these type of memories with her. I missed so many with Jensen. Plus, Mila has fun with them so it’s not completely in vain.

Instead of just stringing them up in the house, I did something a little special. A few days ago, I read something about how communities are putting eggs in their windows for kids to go on ‘Easter egg hunts’ amidst social distancing. I thought this was so cute and I’m hoping some other people in our town have done the same! This is what I have strung in one of my windows.

If you live by me and are hunting for eggs, your kids will definitely be able to find them! I can’t wait to see everyone else’s.

So, although we had a little trouble with our baking, I love how everything came out. Mila had a blast and we were able to create some magic for Easter this year.

If anyone has made salt dough in the past, did it take ages for yours to bake? If not, do you have any tips or idea in what I did wrong? LOL. Just trying to get better for next time!

Mom Tip of the Week: Grazing Boards

Sometimes it’s a struggle to get Mila to sit down and eat a meal. She’s always been an on-the-go snacker, which definitely blurs lunch and snack times so much. We do sit down for breakfast and dinner everyday, but between then, it’s a free for all.

I worry as a mom… Is Mila getting what she needs? Is she eating enough? Is she eating too much? I’m constantly questioning her food intake and it’s honestly something I don’t want to stress about on top of everything else.

A couple weeks ago, I saw some Instagram posts and pins about grazing tables. It’s a way people can have a spread of different kinds of food and be able to eat at their own pace. I was excited to try it with Mila to see how she responded to it.

Top row: grapes, baby carrots, cheese, goldfish

Middle row: pretzel sticks, ham, pistachios, pear

Bottom row: M&M’s, Cheetos, turkey, green olives

I picked things Mila LOVES and asks for all the time, as well as, healthier options that I convince her to eat. Obviously, you can customize the food options to what best works with your child or even themed trays with the cheese and fruit being cut out in fun shapes. I’d love to do a rainbow board!

When Mila first saw her grazing board, she was definitely curious and picked at every item. The longer it was out, she ate her favorites first. I liked that I could pick at it too and since it wasn’t just on ‘her plate,’ she was happier to share.

I think this would be perfect for multiple kids and at all ages. It’s easy to put together and didn’t take long either!

If I get really creative, I’ll have to share if I make a fun board. But the grazing board is here to stay.

Toddler Activity: Easter Painting

One of my favorite activities to do with Mila is her seasonal painting.

Since she was eight months old, I’ve had Mila paint with festive colors. Her first one was Christmas inspired. She had so much fun doing it, I wanted to keep on going. I’m unsure how many paintings I have now, but there’s no plans on stopping. The wall where her paintings hang has transformed into this seasonal activity wall, which is fun to update throughout the year.

The last one we did was for Valentine’s Day and I was up on the air of doing an Easter or birthday inspired one until summer. After I brought my spring decorations up, I figured I could combine the two with my other things.

Mila loves animals and lately (thanks Pets 2) has loved ‘bun buns’ or bunnies. I decided to incorporate a bunny in her painting and use colors that she enjoys so it wasn’t just Easter inspired.

To do this, I cut out a bunny head and taped it on a canvas. I let Mila choose the colors and where to put them on there. After I got the paint out, she brushed where she wanted to as normal. She picked blue, purple, pink, and yellow. After each color, I had her go play while I let the paint dry, so thankful for hair dryers.

Some of the paint did leak through the paper, so it wasn’t a perfect blanked out spot. After I got it dried and pulled it off, I put some white paint to touch it up. It turned out really cute and I like it not being ‘perfect.’ She was so proud of it too and kept pointing to the spot yelling ‘bun bun.’

She did such a good job with it and I really love the layered look. This can be altered to any color and image you’d like to blank out. I think tape would be easier to use, but harder to make a specific shape. This worked best for us and like I said, it’s not supposed to be picture perfect, an almost two year old made it!

I think this would be a great, quick project during quarantine to do with kids of all ages.

We’re doing more Easter crafts this week that I didn’t get to quite finish up this weekend. We’re finally decorating our salt dough ornaments and they turned out pretty good. I’ll be posting about that, my new gardening venture, and some Earth month things!

Meatless Monday: French Onion Grilled Cheese

Scrambling about what to make for dinner tonight? How about a meatless option that doesn’t lack any taste? Well, I’ve found the perfect recipe for you.

On Instagram, I found a guy named @nishcooks. He makes videos of all kinds of different meals that are pretty simple to make. He provides the recipes and the videos shows how he quickly makes them. One video that jumped out to me was his French Onion Grilled Cheese.

The ingredients he uses are :

  • Whole onion
  • Sour dough bread
  • Cheddar (preferably Swiss)
  • Provolone
  • Butter

Well, I didn’t have everything he had specifically so I modified mine a bit. I used one yellow onion, Gouda cheese, and regular wheat bread. It’s what I had on hand, so I figured it’d be fine. I also used salt and pepper to spice the onion.

These were my ingredients after I sautéd the onions. That part took a little while, like forty minutes and lots of butter… so worth it in the end. I grated the Gouda and honestly, I know traditional French onion soup uses Swiss, but the cheese paired so well the the onions and everything.

If I knew how good it was going to taste, I probably would have made way more. Mila had soup, her favorite lately, but stole a few bites of my sandwich. When I last went to the grocery store, I grabbed extra onions to make this sandwich again.

Just looking at the pictures again makes me want to make it right now. I love grilled cheese normally, but the onions just elevated it to the next level.

You guys should definitely try it and let me know how you liked it. If you’re looking for some dinner inspiration and are on Instagram, check out @nishcooks. Happy making!

Mila Tries Internet Activities: Easter Egg Sort.

Another day, another toddler activity to try with Mila.

For the last week or so, I’ve seen so many Easter inspired activities. Since we’re going to be quarantined until Easter, I thought I’d tackle one activity a day. A lot of them used the little, plastic eggs that you can put things in. So I got a bag of them for a dollar at the dollar store and thought I’d give it a go.

Turns out, Mila loves the eggs as they come. She will just sit there and open and close all then over and over. We’ve played little games where I have her give me certain colors or we count them. I think an easy, independent activity to do would be a basic color sort.

Since it was so nice out yesterday, I figured we could do something with them out there. I grabbed painters tape, a tub from an organization bin, tongs and a spoon, and her basket of eggs. You’re supposed to make a crazy pattern for your toddler to maneuver around with the tongs, grab the egg, and put it in a basket or even color sort. I got the inspiration from this activity from The Ever Co’s Instagram page (@theeverco).

After I was done getting the tape on there, we went outside. Her and Max ran around for a while and played fetch. When they were over that, they ran to me, but I already had something for her to do.

At first, I just watched to see what she’d do. She stuck her hand in there and got it caught on the tape, which really surprised her. After I told her to use the tongs and put them in the basket, she was on a mission. She played independently for about forty-five minutes with it. When she realized she could put the eggs back in there, she would open them up and try to pick them up that way. To challenge her further, I’d definitely do different colored bowls for her to place the egg into. Maybe next time.

One thing I would have changed if I didn’t throw it together in five minutes… instead of painters tape, I would have used different sizes of yarn and ribbon. Sometimes the eggs or tongs got stuck on the sticky side. She worked around it, but it might have been nicer if that wasn’t in the way.

Hopefully if you get to try this activity, it works a nicely as it did for me. Today, Mila and I are going to try to make salt dough Easter eggs and paint them. Wish us luck!

Mom Tip of the Week: Water Works.

Today was absolutely BEAUTIFUL outside. We had sunshine and warmish weather this morning and afternoon. Mila and I were outside for like three hours and I feel so refreshed. We try to get outside for a little bit every day, but it’s just different when it’s perfect out.

ANYWAYS…

Since it was so nice outside and I needed to get some things done, I knew I had to get Mila doing an activity. We had brunch, the she free played in the yard while I started on my homework this week. It’s like she has this alarm in her head when I get my laptop out. As soon as I started typing, she ran over to me and sat in my lap. It happens and I can’t be mad at her cute face. I asked her to go rake the leaves back in the pile and I’d get a sentence or two done and she was yelling at me.

I was looking around at what I could distract her with and all I could see was her water table, which I would 100% recommend to anyone. The big thing with getting the water table is she would have water everywhere and it’s not that warm out.

But I know water works; especially with Mila.

I went inside my house and went to get a big tub from my storage container to put water in. Then, I filled it up like a quarter of the way and had her pick up all the balls in our yard. To make it fun, I put Dawn dish soap in there to make bubbles. She loves swishing water around to make them bigger so that was a hit. I also got different cups/containers, utensils, and her bath baby.

With all the parenting blogs and instagram accounts I follow, they all recommend using tongs to promote fine motor skills. I finally got Mila do use them and she was picking up all the balls. She played with just the tongs for like thirty minutes. When she was over that, I told her to give her baby a bath and to make sure all the balls were squeaky clean. She was occupied for about an hour, which gave me plenty of time to write my discussion board posts and replies. j

Water works! I think it’s so cool how interested toddlers, and kids in general, are so into playing with water. Mila will fill up a cup and empty it in the bath for such a long time. Anytime she’s grump, I’ll put her in the bath or put a towel under a tub so she can play inside when it isn’t nice out.

After playing and cleaning everything up, Mila was ready for her ‘nack’ (snack), watched Moana, and is still napping. I’d say it was a pretty successful morning and afternoon playing in the water.

Peep the Nutella on Mila’s face…

Yeah, my ‘mom tip’ might be pretty weak, but being under lockdown can feel overwhelming for parents and that thirty minutes to an hour can truly make it or break it. Although we did it as an outdoor activity, don’t be afraid to bring it indoors. I’m feeling a lot less stressed today with some me time and checking items off my to do list today.

And I just love sharing how Mila’s growing with you all. If any activities help you as well, then it’s even better.

I hope you guys are keeping sane throughout this madness! As always, if you have any fun toddler activities, I’d love to hear and try them out!