BIG NEWS!

Without lots of pressure from me, Mila has finally decided to start using the potty!

After a few months of her yelling NO anytime I mentioned using the potty, she finally told me she needed to pee. Then ran to get her potty and went.

After she showed me that she went, we did a dance, high-five’d, and said yay about a thousand times! She’s so proud of herself, and I’m so proud of her! Hopefully she keeps it up and within a few weeks we’ll be done with diapers.

The last time we really tried potty training was last summer; she’d rip her diaper off and go. She had zero interest in sitting, but it did bring a lot of funny moments. Hopefully this go she’ll just keep her momentum, plus have a few laughs here and there too.

I’ll just be over here celebrating her potty journey (aka poop and pee) with her. Parenting is so weird.

For Mama.

One of my top priorities in raising Mila is to make sure she becomes a decent human.

I always tell her please and thank you so she can catch on and do the same. When she does something ‘wrong,’ I explain what could happen and tell her other ways to do something. If she spills something, I have her help me clean up. When she plays with Max or other kids, I encourage her to share. I do my best to try and model the behavior I want her to pick up.

Most days, I worry I’m not doing good enough. She only has me to look up to at home and I’m no where near perfect. I can lose my patience and need a minute to just sit with my thoughts. There are times I raise my voice, then go to her to give the biggest hug and tell her I’m sorry.

I’m a human and I know none of us are perfect, so I’m aiming to be decent and for her to grow up the same.

Mila is nearing TWO! Crazy, right? She’s full force in all things toddler and sometimes I wonder if anything I’m trying to teach her is sticking. Either way, I wanted to celebrate her and my love for her on Valentine’s Day. I got her all the chocolate, a book, flowers, and a HUGE unicorn. She was ecstatic and loved everything.

All she kept saying was OOOHHHH with the most amazing smile. When she realized I was going to let her eat a piece of chocolate before breakfast (gasp), she quickly asked me to unwrap one.

Instead of digging into it, she grabbed another piece.

You haven’t even ate the first piece, Mila. You don’t need two!

Then, as if she was confused why I said anything, she held out the piece of chocolate to me.

For mama. 

Two little words melted my heart. So, I unwrapped a piece for me and took a bite. After she saw me take a bite, she smiled and took a big one herself.

That was the moment I realized everything’s going to be okay. All my fears of not doing good enough for her or not being all she needs went away. She has no idea how much her words and actions affect me. And I don’t give myself enough credit for what mine do for her.


As much as I wanted to leave this on a heartwarming note… I had to show you Mila’s latest reaction to certain “smelly” things. She always knows how to make those around her laugh and smile.

I give up…

I give up.

This was my house after breakfast yesterday morning…

What’s easy to see is Mila licking an almost empty yogurt container, trying to get that last little bit out. Max is laying down on the tent that just looks like it was laying there. A dirty towel lays besides her table, crumbled from use, and the floor… is a mess.

The unseen is where the story behind this picture is way more thrilling. Before the crumbled towel was thrown on the floor, Mila had a full cup of chocolate milk. She refused to let me help her out so it all fell on the floor. While I was trying to clean it up, Mila decided Max was hungry for yogurt and decided to share. Max was napping in the tent, but is always down for getting a snack. When I came back from the laundry room, yogurt covered the floor, tent, Max, and was all through Mila’s hair. As I wiped up the floor, Max and Mila pushed the tent down and when she realized he ate the majority of the yogurt, she started scavenging.

That’s when I just sat down, took a picture, and decided to give up.

My house is never clean anymore. I’m constantly picking up after the two of them and after I think I have everything decent, there’s another mess. Mila gets dressed (with a bow) every morning, but decides she needs multiple outfit changes throughout the day. I cook food for her and I; mostly all of hers goes to him. When I try to work or do school things, I have my little shadow trying to help It feels like I can never get anything done.

But when I was sitting there watching this scene unfold, I realized I needed to give up.

Give up wishing I was the woman with the picture perfect house.

Give up wishing Mila and I always looked 100% presentable

Give up wishing I accomplished more in a day.

Give up unrealistic expectations I put on myself.

This motherhood things is HARD and we put so much on ourselves. Honestly, I’d rather have the memories of watching yogurt fly everywhere and my living room be filled with laughter, than a clean room with Mila being afraid to make a mess.

I don’t know when this season of life will end, but I know it’ll come too soon. Toddlerhood has been a gift for me. Yes, it’s challenging and has tested me, but all the joy it has brought is worth it all.

Mila ended up having to take a bath before noon and splashed ALL the water out of the tub, but she was smiling. I wouldn’t trade that smile or being her mom for the world.

Thoughts on Taking a Toddler to the Dentist.

A couple months ago, I noticed something up with two of Mila’s teeth. I could’ve sworn they were cavities, but it didn’t make sense that she would have them so young. Or the fact I’m sort of crazy about making sure her teeth are brushed and she takes her fluoride supplement each day. I mean, don’t get me wrong… she drinks juice and has sweets every so often, but not enough to damage her teeth, right?

Since this summer, I’ve been keeping a closer eye on them and they haven’t gotten better.  I’ve honestly had sleepless nights researching what to do for her and how I could do better for her dental health. It’s been a sore subject for me and I know how silly that sounds. I do my best for Mila everyday and I’ve felt like I’ve failed her teeth.

So, last week, I decided to finally call and make an appointment with a dentist. FIRST OFF, it is difficult to find an office to take a child under two to get their teeth checked and potentially worked on. With determination, I did find someone. Thankfully, they were able to get Mila in almost immediately.

Then the anxiety hit.

I thought the dentist would think I was a bad parent. I thought Mila would scream the entire time. I thought they would have to pull her teeth as soon as we walked in. I thought the appointment would be anything but good.

Fast forward to the day of the appointment (Monday), I have to wake Mila up from her nap to get her to the appointment on time. Snow is falling and it’s way too cold for anyone to be going to the dentist. My mom, Mila, and I file our way into reception and they are greeted with a very grumpy toddler.

After checking in, Mila goes to explore her surroundings, but finds herself at a loss when she isn’t able to go in the back. For a little while, she just laid on the ground, protesting to cooperate. I can’t say I blame her as the minutes ticked by during our wait. Finally she gets distracted by the snow and eventually mama cuddles.

Once we’re called back, Mila decides to cheer up and let her happy presence be known to everyone she passes. When we get back to our little area, the anxiety for me starts to set in again. While Mila played with the dentist’s ‘toys,’ I just kept picturing having to pin her down while they pulled all her teeth.

Yes, my brain is so amazing at producing vivid images at the worst possible times. Thank you brain for giving me that beautiful gift.

While waiting, again, Mila discovers she can see inside the room beside us. She sees a family getting their teeth cleaned. At first, she thought she was just crashing on their nap, she soon discovered they were doing anything but going ‘night-night.’ The dentist tools whirled and made so many noises in the other person’s mouth. I wish I could have listened to Mila’s thoughts while watching this somewhat horrifying event for her, take place. The good news was, I didn’t need to hear her thoughts, I could just look at the pure confusion (and slight terror?) on her face. Her big, compassionate heart kept prompting to ask my mom and I if they were okay. I don’t think she believed us, at all.

She then made herself comfortable on ‘the chair.’ The dental assistant soon came and tried to brush Mila’s teeth. She was welcomed with a firm no. I was happy my girl could stand her ground, but terrified knowing what came next.

It all led up to this moment. Mila’s dentist came to check her teeth. She was somewhat intimidated by this man, but weirdly laid down to let him see her teeth. He had me lay her down across me and hold her arms. Her head was placed in his lap and as he tried to brush her teeth and put some kind of coating over them, she awkwardly laughed and I could tell how truly uncomfortable she was. Big crocodile tears fell from her eyes as she looked for me to help her. My heart broke, but I knew this was for her benefit.

As he finished cleaning her teeth and checking her our, she really did such an amazing job. Honestly, I was so proud of her. As a parent, it’s so hard to take your child to the doctor or dentist and not be able to explain why they’re getting a shot or why some random stranger is looking in their mouth. She did call him a meany multiple times after, so I guess she got her revenge too.

I know this is a long post, but this was a big day for her and I. Unfortunately, we found out Mila’s two teeth do need further assistance. Quite frankly, I didn’t know if I wanted to share this with all of you. I still feel like it’s somehow my fault, even after the dentist promised me that her teeth are just soft and prone to cavities. He even told me that he thought I was a great parent and to keep brushing her teeth to the best of my ability. But, Mila has to get caps on two of her teeth and will be under anesthesia for it.

I’m terrified.

This isn’t anyone’s ‘business’ besides Mila and I’s, but after making myself believe I’m a bad parent because she has two cavities and needs to get them fixed, I needed to share. If I think this, I know another person has had the same thoughts too. I just want them to know that you’re doing what you can and sometimes stuff just happens. Now I just have to make myself think that too.

The day didn’t end up in a negative place. Right after her appointment, we took her to Build-A-Bear for the first time ever. The pure joy of being able to make her own bear (dog) and pick it out an outfit made Mila’s world just right again.

I’ll never forget her holding her little dog in the middle of the store out from her and just screaming ‘yaaaaaaay!’ Her smile lit up the whole entire place and let me know everything’s going to be just fine.

Everyday motherhood teaches me something new and on this day, I learned that we have to be brave in situations that make us ultra uncomfortable. If this little toddler of mine can take on such a big day, not knowing what was going on, I can take on hard things too.

Santa Encounter #1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Weird Things My Toddler Does: Part Two

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

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

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

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

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

What weird thing will Mila do next?

Family Portrait – Capture Your Grief

This is my family: Mila, Jensen, and I.

Our family portraits will never look ‘normal,’ but they’re perfect to me. They’re still full of love and an actual representation of who we are as a family.

Story time.

I was being brave today. This whole month I’ve felt exhausted. In the middle of potty training Max AND Mila (yes, I will post those adventures soon), doing school work, and trying to get back in the swing of subbing, plus everything else, I found myself neglecting what actually means a lot to me… Capture Your Grief. Every October I’ve done my best with it and this one, I just have been doing what I can do.

When I saw today’s prompt, I told myself I was 100% participating and going to get a picture of us. I picked out Mila and I’s outfit and Jensen’s bow. We grabbed our fall stuff and a big blanket to take outside. For like 15 minutes, I was in the backyard finding the perfect spot while rigging a stand up for my phone to sit…

I wanted it to be perfect with a fall background and all of us looking in the camera. Let’s just say… that didn’t happen.

Toddler’s aren’t the best at taking direction and Max wouldn’t sit still and Mila kept taking Jensen’s bow off and it seemed impossible to run back and get us all set up in time in a matter of ten seconds.

Did I feel a little defeated? Yes. But, I looked at Mila and held Jensen bear close to me and realized the most important people in my life didn’t care about a picture. They cared about me and know I’m doing my best. I let grief and stress and feeling like a bad mom get the best of me. It happens to all of us and that’s okay.

After my moment, I squeezed Jensen bear again and got Mila to come sit with us. I was going to get this picture no matter what and what’s wrong with a selfie?

This is our life. It’s three and a half years of grieving and a year and a half of parenting after loss. It’s one full of love and craziness. One that the only thing I’d change is having Jensen physically here with us.

I love our little family portrait today. My littles are in my arms and close to my heart. I’m smiling and everything is going to be just okay.

Kisses for Jensen.

Mom Fail: Escape Edition.

This is Mila and Max.

Separated, they’re both so adorable. Together, even cuter, but mischievous. Fortunately they get along GREAT, which leads them to having a lot of adventures together. Some not completely okay’d with me.

As with many of Mila’s adventures, I wanted to share her latest way she almost gave me a heart attack. After breakfast a few mornings ago, Mila and Max were playing inside of his kennel, so I decided to go do some laundry. Mila was in just a diaper and I was still in my pajamas. It was a quiet morning and while I was throwing clothes in the dryer, I sort of realized how eerily silent it was. Usually when they play, they’re making some sort of sound or Mila is giggling so loud.

I finished up what I was doing and took my time getting back to check on them. It was sort of weird when they didn’t run back to see what I was doing, but I didn’t think anything of it. When I walked back to the living room and didn’t hear them, I started to worry a little. Then I walked to where Max’s kennel is… they weren’t in there. Even worse, the baby gate AND the back door was open.

Insert panic here.

Everything inside of me was hoping they were outback playing. We’re outside a lot so it would make since they were just there, but the backyard was empty. I took off to the front of the house and looked down the alley.

There they were.

Mila was running down the street in just her diaper after Max. They were about halfway up the road. I yelled for them which only just caused Mila to laugh and run faster. Thankfully we live in a small town and on a quiet street. Still, I took off running, barefoot with my back foot still wide open after them.

I caught up to Mila who looked happy as could be. She informed me she was going to ‘Gigi,’ which is what she calls my mom. My parents live around the block and we walk there almost everyday. They know their way and she pointed to the house.

Max kept running. I guess he knows where to go too. We had to look so silly. A toddler and puppy running down the street with the crazy mom catching them minutes later. Mila and I finally caught up to Max when we got to my parents house…

He looked mighty proud of himself for getting where he needed to be and waiting on us too.

Life with Mila (and Max) is always an adventure, supervised or not. The next adventure I’ll be taking on is making sure the back door is always locked.

Caught in the act… when they try to ‘escape’ the neighbors backyard is where they usually end up.

Guess Who Ran Barefoot Through Fields of Sunflowers…

I know a little girl who ran barefoot among the sunflowers.
With the wind in her hair and dirt on her feet, she laughed freely.
Only looking back to see who follows, she knows she holds all the power.
No matter how wild and free, I’m proud to say this girl belongs to me.

I’m not the best poet in the world, but Saturday was so magical that words flow through me when looking back on pictures. Mila and I had a day full of adventures that I could not predict what all was going to happen.

A few weeks ago, I saw that Ramseyer Farms near Wooster had a sunflower festival going on. I had never been to the farm before or really knew what to expect, but I thought it might be cute for Mila and I to go. Well, it turns out this place is HUGE. There’s so many playgrounds, big slides, farm animals, corn mazes, food, and more that people of all ages can enjoy.

We started off our time at the playground designated for little kids. There was a huge play set that had slides everywhere. I thought Mila was a little too little to go by herself, so of course I went down them with her, check out the video at the end. We unfortunately probably didn’t wear the best clothes, but we rocked it anyways. She loved that I got to play with her and was smiling the entire time. There was also a baby corn maze. She thought it was hilarious and ran right through it. Then, we got to this wagon full of corn that kids could play in. We didn’t leave there for a long time. It was relaxing to just float on top of the corn and I could definitely tell it made her sleepy. So after thirty minutes we went off to the next thing.

I swear Mila was supposed to grow up on a farm because she thrives in this setting. She absolutely loves animals and has no fear of them. They for some reason respect her and are all gentle. I hope she always stays curious and keeps her love for them. Unfortunately when trying to see the little chicks closely, Mila fell of a few steps and hit hard. Of course, right? She’s accident prone, what can I say… Instead of sticking around, we did a little random act of kindness and our quarters by all the animal food so others could have a turn in feeding the goats and pigs too. (By the way, that’s one of our bucket list items we checked off! Only a few more to go!)

Mila and I tried to get to all the playgrounds and big slides, but time went really quick. We went through one corn maze, ate kennel corn, and drank apple cider. I was hoping she’d get some type of sugar rush before we ended our time at Ramseyer Farms in the sunflower fields. Thankfully it worked.

I have never seen anything as cute as Mila running wild in the fields. She refused to wear her shoes after a little while and it just made her look like she belonged there. Lots of people just looked at her and smiled. I think watching a child just be so innocent and carefree brings adults back. With everything I’ve been through, I really live in moments like these. Mila’s taught me to smile and love life again. For that I’ll always be thankful for her.

After picking our sunflowers and getting back to the car. Thank you to the random man who helped me carry everything back. I brought the wrong stroller and no bag… not good planning on my part, but thankfully there’s good people in the world. On the way back home, Mila finally passed out. I didn’t realize we were there for four hours, but loved the day.

As we drove through Strasburg, I noticed that people were sitting really close to the road. They were having their own festival going on and there was a parade! One of the items I didn’t think we were going to get to on the bucket list was a parade. So, while she was still asleep, I found a parking spot and waited until she woke up to walk to a spot. It felt like such a lucky day.

We found a spot next to some people and just enjoyed the rest of the evening. It had felt like Jensen was with us all day, then we got a balloon that was blue and orange. They were everywhere, so it was a nice visual reminder that he’s everywhere we are too. Mila absolutely loved the parade and watching everything go by. She got candy and chocolate, which of course was great to her. Honestly, I couldn’t have asked for a better way to end the day.

I know this post was a really long round up of Saturday, but it’s a day I don’t ever want to forget.

Complete picture overload, but it was too perfect not to document and share. Enjoy this little video of us going down the slide. I wish I had one of us on the huge slice, but maybe that’ll be what we do next time!

Dinner Date at the Lake.

I feel like I just talked about how quickly summer is coming to a close, but it really feels like the days are going faster. Even though there isn’t really any pressure to get the remaining bucket list items done, I’m still trying my best.

Last night, I thought would be a perfect night to combine two of them: lake day and go on a picnic. It sort of turned into lake evening and eat our dinner on a picnic table. Either way, it was a beautiful night.

Mila’s ate outside before, but she was loving the picnic bench. She thought it was cool that the seats and table had holes in it. Then we got to eat Subway for the night, which meant she got a juice box and a cookie. Absolutely wild for her.

It’s not a normal night without Mila falling or getting hurt some way… she did fall off the bench once and bit her cheek. No ER visit thankfully!

One thing that was persistent throughout the night was feeling Jensen with us. It’s a feeling I don’t know how to describe other than just knowing he was there. First it was in the cookie to make Mila feel better.

He always shows up in orange and blue. His colors showed up in the sunset too. It felt like he was surrounding us and watching Mila and Max play while letting me know it was all going to be okay.

Even though we didn’t get a full day at the lake, Max and Mila were loving it. They got their feet in the water and climbed in the rocks. I showed her how to skip rocks, which she thought throwing them was just as fun too.

I know I keep saying I can’t believe how big she’s gotten, but it’s crazy. She’s so strong and smart. Her independence is mind blowing to me. She soaks everything up around her and seeing the world through her eyes is something I’ll always be thankful for.

Through everything we go through life like loss and situations you can’t see the end to, these moments are the ones that keep you going. I miss Jensen so much and can see where he’d be everyday. This bucket list was something to give us things to do for the summer, but it really turned into so much more. I know that probably sounds lame, I just see all these items as memories that’ll never go away.

I’ll never regret the time I get to spend with Mila and I’ll always wish Jensen was here with us. Sometimes dinner at the lake puts everything in perspective… and a lot of beautiful pictures.