Explore Clary Gardens in Coshocton, Ohio.

When it comes to local exploring, Mila and I are on a mission. Our latest go to place was the Clary Gardens in Coshocton, Ohio.

Located right by Roscoe Village, the gardens are a secret escape to play and learn for all.

There are so many aspects of the gardens that I love. Since I’m a planty person, seeing the different types of plants and flowers was magical. Believe me, everywhere you look is beautiful.

I’ve actually been planning on taking Mila here for a little while. On the Clary Gardens Facebook page, I saw them advertise their Story Walk and knew we had to go.

Mila is set anytime learning and being active is involved. So, we put our go-fasters on and went on our way.

Here were our favorite parts of the trip, besides the beauty of the gardens!

The Story Walk Trail

This isn’t a secret, the Story Walk was our favorite part of our visit!

Clary Gardens, the Coshocton Public Library, and The Frontier Power Company teamed up to make this walk happened. They plan to change out the story seasonally, so that means we’ll be going back!

This season’s story was Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae. It’s an adorable book about, you guessed it, a giraffe that can’t dance.

As you walk through the trail, you get to read more pages in the book.

Mila loved this and was searching for the page stands. Throughout the walk, I asked her to recap what happened from the pages before. She did amazing and was really engaged with the Story Walk!

The walk also lets you explore the gardens more. It gives you beautiful views of the property and a little walking trail that is safe for kids. Mila’s favorite parts of the trail was walking by the pond and going into the woods.

Mila taking the route less traveled.

This book choice was perfect for us too, since Mila loves to dance. She danced right with the different animals in the book.

It was a fun adventure through the gardens and I love seeing Mila’s love for reading expand. Spoiler alert, the giraffe dances at the end and Mila did a little celebration dance with him.

Check out the video at the end of this post.

The Octopus

Along the Story Walk was this big and beautiful, wooden octopus.

The octopus is all hand carved and hanging from a tree. He slightly sways if you touch him or the wind blows hard. This freaked Mila out a little, but she warmed right up to him.

I am completely amazed by all the details in the octopus. From the tentacle suckers to the big eyes, Mila and I both had a hard time walking away.

The size and detail reminded me of the wooden giants at the Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest in Louisville. That was our last adventure before COVID. Except the giants were even bigger. It was still nice to be reminded of that memory.

When you go to Clary Gardens, definitely seek out the octopus.

Children’s Area

Since I’ve become a mom, finding a place where Mila can play is a must. Clary Gardens has a big area set aside just for this!

There’s different areas for kids to crawl through, climb on, and play. The sandbox was Mila’s favorite! Fortunately, there were buckets and shovels already provided for kids to use.

I personally appreciated the vegetable garden areas. Mila and I were looking to see if any had grown and trying to identify the leaves. Just another learning opportunity that we had to take.

The beautiful artwork at the side of the play area was so cute too.

After her time in the sandbox, Mila pointed out the colors and different things on the mural. She immediately ran up to the butterflies and pretended to be one.

This would be a perfect spot for a play date. You could picnic here (or any of the gazebos) while the kids played. The kids would have so many options to play and moms could get some shade and catch up.

Here’s a little compilation video of our visit. My favorite is Mila’s dance at the end.

The gardens offer even more too. Not only can you get married here or hold an event, it has a beautiful amphitheater too. There’s a few plays by Rogue Elephant Productions coming up in the near future that I need to go see.

If you’re local to Coshocton, plan out your visit to the Clary Gardens soon!

Have you ever been to the Clary Gardens? If not, do you have local gardens that are similar?

Embarrassing Story Time: Toothpaste or Something Else?

There’s nothing like a little embarrassment, especially from your past self.

I love rereading old blog posts and remembering stories that happened. Sometimes I even go to my old blogs just to see. It makes me laugh every time.

Recently, I’ve started a project with my grandpa (and all the family) and was reminded about one story. It happened clear back in 2015 when I went to watch my little cousin graduate from boot camp. I found it on one of my old blogs and figured I’d share it with you now.

It also makes me smile knowing this was written when Jensen was just a little speck in my belly. I didn’t know yet, but I was pregnant with him.

Look and see how much I’ve grown in six years… and you can laugh at me too.


Brush, Brush, Brush…

As many of you know or would guess, I’m a very clean person. I’m constantly brushing my teeth, washing my hands, or showering. My biggest pet peeve is my teeth being unclean or feel like there’s buildup on them. Every night, I brush my teeth, wash my face, and brush my hair. Every night it goes smoothly, until I went to Fort Leonard Wood, MO this past weekend.

The clouds are low in MO.

Since I wanted to get there a day early, I left with my Uncle Steve and Grandpa. I tried to pack everything I could think of that I would need for one night. Usually my mom will have all the other things I forgot, but she wouldn’t be there. The whole trip was going smoothly. I remembered all my car sickness medicine, my toothbrush, and deodorant. When we got back to the hotel room late, I realized I forget conditioner.

This simple sample-sized product can usually be found in the hotel shower. Yet, there was none. As my uncle and grandpa settled in and started to fall asleep, I snuck down to the lobby to ask nicely for conditioner. Turns out the whole hotel was conditioner free. At this point, I was stuck. I couldn’t ask anyone for keys to drive to the store. Plus, I didn’t even know where a store was. Of course I got on Pinterest and found out once could use lotion as a conditioner substitute. Well, it was worth a try.

Thankfully the lotion worked.
This probably was the biggest success of my nightly routine.

The after effects of lotion: puffy hair.

After my shower I felt like all the travel grime was washed away. I could sleep peacefully all clean in a nice comfortable bed. First things first though, I had to get that minty fresh taste in my mouth. As I’m rummaging through my weekend bag, I realize I forgot one other thing… my toothpaste.

Let’s just say there’s not Pinterest tips to help me here. In my last attempt effort, I saw my grandpa’s toiletry bag by the sink. He has to have toothpaste in there. It only takes a second to find the tube. I get my toothbrush out, squeeze the paste, and go to town on my teeth. But, the toothpaste tasted off, it was bland and seemed to be sticking to my teeth. I keep brushing as best as I could, but still it gets harder around my teeth. Then it tastes and feels as if there’s cement all throughout my mouth.

In a panic, I hurry and look at the ‘toothpaste.’ Instead of saying Colgate, I read Fixodent: All Day Hold.

I just had confused denture adhesive with toothpaste; aka the WORST decision ever. Not only was it the most disgusting taste, I seriously did not think it was going to come out. I kept brushing, but nothing helped.

Long story short, it took my 45 minutes to get all the adhesive out. Better yet, when I put my old clothes back into my bag… I found my toothpaste.

Moral of the Story…

Always put your toothpaste in a place you can easily find.

Hopefully you all enjoyed this post and got a little giggle out of it. Initially after I did this, I only told my mom and did not want anyone else to know. BUT I think you would all enjoy.


What a night to remember.

I think the second best part of finding this was the grainy phone pictures six years ago. Either way, this put a smile to my face.

Do you ever look back on past situations and just laugh? Or have you ever mistaken denture adhesive with toothpaste?

Oh… that last part is definitely just past Danielle.

Explore the World’s Largest Cuckoo Clock in Sugarcreek, Ohio.

Mila and I love to find quirky, local adventures. One of our favorite places to explore is the World’s Largest Cuckoo Clock in Sugarcreek, Ohio.

It’s definitely worth the visit!

You’ll find this treasure located in downtown Sugarcreek, on the corner of Main Street and North Broadway.

We actually went to go out to the cuckoo clock, but got sidetracked by the Butterfly Exhibit at the Norma Johnson Center. If we’re nearby the clock, Mila and I like to get ice cream and watch the show.

It’s one of the places she asks to go quite frequently. I have no idea how she got so fascinated with it.

The clock plays it’s song and show every half hour in the summer. Its closed down in the winter, so be mindful of that if you’re planning a visit during the cooler months.

We got there a little early, so we walked around the block to explore… and take pictures.

The history of the World’s Largest Cuckoo Clock is pretty cool. If you read the Ohio marker in the picture it tells you all about it.

Here’s a little recap of what it says:

Originally, the clock was at a local restaurant a few streets down. It was on the the cover of the Guinness Book of World Records in 1978. Then, after decades, it needed a major restoration. Two years after it was restored, the restaurant it was at closed down and the clock was moved to its current location.

I think knowing what the clock has been through and seeing the shear size of it, makes it even more impressive.

Once it was time for the clock to do its song and dance, Mila ran over to the bench.

The whole thing runs about five minutes.

It’s really cute to watch and Mila likes it too. You can always tell when it’s the half hour because there’s a little crowd all around the clock.

When it was over, Mila gave me her best cuckoo clock impression. I think she loves the dancing.

If you’re close to Sugarcreek or visiting Ohio, this should be on your list to see. It’s only a ten minute stop if you time it up right. Then you can get lunch, ice cream, or go shopping at the local shops.

It’s truly a sight to see and something that will make you smile. Your kids will love it too!

Local friends… have you ever seen the World’s Largest Cuckoo Clock? What other fun things would you suggest people see?

Far away friends… what’s your closest “World’s Largest” to you?

The Butterfly Exhibit at the Norma Johnson Center

Looking for something fun and educational to do nearby? Head out to the Norma Johnson Center to see the Butterfly Exhibit.

The exhibit only runs until July 18, but it’s worth the quick trip.

Their hours are from 10-4 on weekdays and Saturday and 12-4 on Sunday.

Mila and I actually didn’t plan on seeing the butterflies this week. It was quite the happy accident. On our way out to Sugarcreek, we saw signs adorned with butterflies.

After a quick thought, I asked Mila if she wanted to go and we were on our way.

The Norma Johnson Center (NJC) is between Dover and Sugarcreek. We’ve been there to hike, take pictures, and look at flowers. It’s a beautiful location that also offers educational programs for kids and adults. This was our first one, but we will certainly be back for more.

To get to the exhibit, all you have to do is park in the lot by the red barn. Then follow the signs up to the pavilion you saw when pulling in. I promise you can’t miss it.

Mila was so excited to see the butterflies, she ran up the hill to get to them.

Under the pavilion, the NJC crew had butterfly crafts, face painting, and information. Plus, the main event: actual butterflies!

The butterflies were in a screened off section of the pavilion.

Inside, there was a lady who was extremely knowledgeable about butterflies. She was such a huge help in teaching kids the different parts of the butterflies and how to handle them.

We learned that we shouldn’t touch butterflies with our fingers, they eat with their proboscis (which is like a straw), and they love to eat rotten fruit, but prefer flowers more. Also, that Eric Clarke wrote that caterpillars made a cocoon, but it’s actually called a chrysalis!

Those were the main takeaways. There was so much more information.

If you’re wondering why Mila has the q-tips, it’s a good question. Since you shouldn’t touch butterflies with your finger, q-tips are the best option to be interactive with butterflies.

They’re dipped in watermelon, which some butterflies like. You can get them on there so they drink the juice. Then they can either fly away or you can transfer them to a flower. You get to see the butterflies up close AND they get to stay safe.

After we visited the butterflies, it was craft time!

The NJC had a free paper butterfly craft. It consisted of coloring the wings, cutting them out, and assembling it together. Mila and I tackled this one together!

Then, she got to get her face painted, with a butterfly of course. She picked all her favorite colors: pink, blue, purple, and a silvery color. The butterfly was very unique.

It was her very first time getting her face painted! I think she was a little nervous, but overall stayed as still as she could.

Immediately after, she wanted to do a little photoshoot and ran on the hill.

I guess you could say she was happy with the finished product.

After face painting, she made some sand art.

They had crafts that costed up to $5 that were butterfly themed. She choose to do the sand, but they also had concrete garden stones kids (or adults!) could paint too.

Before we left, Mila said goodbye to everyone, especially the butterflies.

I’m so glad we fluttered by the Butterfly Exhibit.

Everyone at the exhibit was so helpful and nice to Mila and me. We loved learning, playing, and interacting with it all.

She’s even asked if we could go again!

If you’re local to Ohio and are looking for something to do this week, check out the Norma Johnson’s Butterfly Exhibit!

You can learn more about the Norma Johnson Center and all of their programs on their website.

For those who live further away, I hope you have something similar close to you. It’s definitely worth checking into. Maybe you’ll find a new place to take your kids to play too!

Did you learn anything about butterflies through this post? Or what’s a fun fact you have about them?

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!

One Weekend In Louisville: Toddler Included

Let us cut to two weekends ago…

The coronavirus was not rapidly spreading throughout the US and the world felt a little more normal. (By the way, Mila and I are doing okay here! We’re just staying at home and to ourselves.) Since I was on spring break from school, I thought it would be a nice weekend to getaway. After a little research, I settled on Louisville, Kentucky!

Not your average and usual spring break spot and maybe not the first place you’d think about taking your toddler, you know…the birthplace of bourbon. BUT it’s less than a five hour drive for me, there’s a TON of museums with a wide variety that anyone could enjoy, and GIANTS.

After booking the hotel room, packing up the car, and getting all the snacks for Mila and I, we headed out midday Friday.

Let me tell you, I was nervous for the drive to Louisville. Mila still really dislikes being in the car to the point where the only way she doesn’t cry is if it’s twenty minutes in the car OR I can use an iPad to distract her. Honestly, we only had to stop once on the way there. Disney+ and Pets 2 on Netflix (better known to Mila as ‘Dog, Cat, Baby’) really saved me with nap time.

Mila fell asleep looking at her Gigi and Papa.

We didn’t end up to the hotel (which was downtown, so easy to get to, and the staff was friendly) until like seven. If you don’t know anything about Louisville, just know almost everything closes at five. So, Mila and I ordered Chinese in and went swimming in the pool. Honestly, I think we could’ve went to any hotel with a pool and Mila would have been a happy camper.

The next morning, we sort of slept through breakfast… oops. The pool really tired her out. But, we woke up, got ready, and started our little adventure.

Kentucky Derby Museum

We started out at Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby. This wasn’t originally planned until I got to the hotel. I’m not a huge fan or horses (I literally call them land sharks), but Mila is really into animals. After looking at their website, I found that their museum was super interactive and we could see one of their horses too.

I let Mila wear her fancy dress and she had an absolute blast. There was so much there to learn for me, but even more to play with for her. She was obsessed with this game where you sat on a fake horse and did a virtual race. There were three horses that could race against each other and somehow all she had to do was sit there and she only didn’t come in first place once? It was really weird and funny. Maybe her yelling, ‘GO, GO, HORSE, GO!’ helped. We spent a good while there and I had to promise her there were more horses for her to see.

Honestly, Mila loved looking at the hats and outfits they had displayed, wanted to sit on every fake horse we saw, danced through their 360 movie, and was shocked when she saw their horse and pony. I am SO glad I decided to take her to this specific museum. She really loved stand I got to learn a few things too. We were there for about two hours, maybe a little more. It was definitely worth the price of the tickets for as much as we did, and we didn’t even do the included walking tour.

You can check out the website, here.

Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest

One of the big draws to go to Louisville was the giants at Bernheim. I don’t really remember how I found out about them, but they’re made from recycled materials and they’re really neat. The forest has a lot of walking paths, playgrounds, and information throughout. Mila loves being outside, so anytime I can incorporate that, I’m all for.

We actually went straight to the forest after being at Churchill Downs. Mila napped on the way down there and as I got changed to hike through a forest. I woke her up, got her changed, and we were so hungry. They have a little café called Isaac’s Café in the visitor center. A really cool fact is they grow their vegetables, herbs, and edible flowers a stones throw away. Everything tasted really fresh and Mila ate all of the sandwich.

Everyone who was in the forest and the people who worked in the visitor center were kind and helpful. Interacting with everyone there really made our time at Bernheim special. I would 100% recommend anyone who is visiting the Louisville area to check out the forest. As an adult, I know most people that way are going to the Bourbon Trail, but this is a good way to escape that. The giants were amazing to see in person and I loved the stories that went with them.

I know the giants won’t be around forever, so I’m glad we got to see them. If I had another day in Louisville, I would have spent the whole day there. Maybe another time!

To learn more information about Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest, click here.

After a few hours, we went back to the hotel, and again, we were beat. We ended up napping and my mom and dad surprised us by meeting us in the city. When they got there, we, again, ordered in so we could spend some time in the pool.

The pool was probably the most fun of everything. Mila was singing and stomping her foot to make noises. She jumped in the pool… all by herself, after throwing the ball across the pool. It was scary, but she wanted to keep doing it. Summer should be a joy to try to keep her out of the pool.

I think everyone fell asleep pretty quick after the day Mila and I had AND after my mom and dad drove all day. We did wake up for breakfast the next morning, so score one for us.

Another big thing I wanted to take Mila to was the Louisville Zoo. We drove out there and were about to talk in when we realized a lot of people were leaving after the zoo was only open for forty minutes. A lot of the animals aren’t out because of the time of the year. Mila also fell asleep in the car on the way there. We made the executive decision not to even go to the zoo and change our plans…

Muhammad Ali Center

I had heard so many good things about the Ali Center and I knew there we interactive parts for Mila. Honestly, there was so much infomraiton. I learned a lot about Ali, historical racial issues in the US, and about boxing. All the exhibits let you be interactive and if Mila wasn’t so tired or if she was a little older, I think I could’ve spent a lot more time there. But with a tired, almost two year old, you do what you can.

We played a lot with their boxing area. There was a boxing ring, shadow boxing, and speed bag. I low key feel bad for how much time we spent there, but Mila was all for it. It was fun to like have little competitions between the three adults too.

By the time we got done playing, Mila seriously needed food and a nap. Again, I wish I had more time to go through, but again, I can always go back when Mila is older and she can appreciate the education too.

Learn more about the center here.

Troll Pub Under the Bridge

At this point in the trip, Mila and I had only been to one sit down restaurant and I hadn’t had any bourbon. I don’t drink frequently, but I really wanted bourbon since I was in Louisville. Anyways, after looking on Pinterest for child-friendly restaurants and something that was unique, I found the Troll Pub Under the Bridge.

Honestly, I LOVED this little pub. It’s aesthetic was perfect and the theme was spot on. The food was delicious. I got the burger with beer cheese and it was delicious. My dad got the chicken and waffle sandwich, that made me jealous I didn’t get it. The berry, bourbon drink I got was fantastic. Seriously, just an overall positive experience for me. Mila liked her food, but was a tiny bit afraid of the troll that she called ‘beast.’

If you’re Louisville definitely check Troll Pub Under the Bridge. Their website is here.

After going back and forth of whether we should leave or not, we walked around downtown for a little bit. Louisville is such a walkable city. We did notice all the home plates and bats commemorating different baseball players and the bats they used. I went back and forth of whether I should take Mila to the Louisville Slugger museum. Well, we thought what the heck and decided to go!

Louisville Slugger Museum

So I fibbed a little bit. We technically went to the museum and saw the biggest bat and glove there is in the world, but we didn’t go through the museum. I had a bat custom made for Mila. Of course it’s pink and mini and perfect for her to chase me around the house with. It only took around twenty minutes for it to be done. In that twenty minutes, Mila played a game of hide and seek without letting anyone know… Panic ensued. One minute she was in front of us and the next she was gone. My mom and I just like instantly searched the store, then my dad said something to let us know she was okay. She decided it’d be fun to hide in the clothes rack… not fun, but she was safe so I didn’t care.

Again, we didn’t go and see how the bats were actually made and this history of it. We did go to the batting cages and Mila played in their little area. We actually put Mila in their kids tball batting cage… she liked hitting, maybe needs to work on her aim. But it’ll all come together.

Louisville Slugger Museum (or what we saw) was a hit. Pun fully intended. I can imagine the full tour was informative and the building was beautiful.

If you’ve never been there, check out their website here.

Mila and I had such a blast exploring Louisville and were happy that my mom and dad could join along too. It was so nice to get out before the coronavirus hit. A mini vacation before our quarantine.

I can’t wait to start exploring with Mila more this summer and as she grows older no.

For now, I just keep looking back at pictures and am so thankful for everything in my life. In less than a month, Jensen will be four and Mila two. Through all the craziness, there is so much to be happy about.

One Weekend In Cincinnati: Toddler Included.

It’s my birthday week and to celebrate early, my family treated me to a weekend in Cincinnati! To be completely honest, I have no idea why they’re so encouraging in my celebration this year since I’m just turning twenty-six… but I’m loving every moment of it.

So why Cincy, especially with a toddler?

Three reasons, which will make for great bullet points for this post. Two of them checked off items off the bucket list and the other, well, it was just all for me. Plus, it’s only about a four hour drive from where we live, which makes it a great weekend escape.

Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden

I have been patiently waiting for the right moment to take Mila back to the zoo. We went a couple months ago to the Akron Zoo and she really enjoyed it. Now she’s even more into animals so I was excited to see how she reacted.

The Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden is the second oldest zoo in the United States. It houses 1,896 animals and there is so much plant life as well. Some facts or bits of information you might recall about the zoo is the death of the gorilla Harambe and the birth of Fiona the hippo. Both have made national news in the last five years. There’s also a ton of other information you might want to look up if you’re in surrounding states before you’d want to go. You know, incase my recommendation of the zoo isn’t enough.

Anyways, we drove over Saturday morning and went directly to the zoo. We got there around 12:30 and didn’t leave until 7. It was a HOT day and I’m so thankful we got some rain on us to cool us down. They did have fans with mist throughout the park, which Mila was obsessed with. There was a lot of shade throughout the zoo too and great indoor exhibits that got us out of the sun as well. They had awesome food and such a wide range of animals to see. I was really impressed with how big the enclosures were. I always feel bad they’re stuck there, but the animals seemed really content with their surroundings.

The best part of the zoo for me was seeing Mila react to her surroundings. After we first walked in, we went to see reptiles. She was shocked when she saw the alligators and snakes. Her mouth was wide open and she kept looking at me like, “Mom, do you see that huge animal right there. It’s not fluffy like our cats.” She would point to every animals she saw and loved watching the birds. When we got to the mountain lion part of the zoo, they were doing an ‘encounter,’ which meant they were testing the animals instincts and treating them with meat. Mila realized the mountain lion was going to be right in front of the glass, so she just took off and pushed her way in front of everyone. She smashed her face on the glass to get a closer look and everyone was laughing at her because she was so intently watching. Thankfully she smiled and laughed at the people… there.

Even though she loved seeing all the animals and watching us interact with some of the educational games the zoo had set up, Mila had her toddler moments. The whole entire time, she did not want to sit in her stroller. She wanted to push it herself with NO help. When we would try to help her steer or grab the handle, she would yell “NO” or “DON’T.” Eventually she gave up and let herself sit for a while. She had to be tired, but didn’t nap until we got back to the car. Then, in the gorilla exhibit, she pushed a little girl down and yelled at a little boy. For no reason really, just because they were close to her and she didn’t want them to be. What can you even say though? I’m constantly trying to tell her to be nice, but she has a mind of her own.

Thankfully those were only minor incidents with her. She loved watching all the animals and smiled every chance she got. I can’t wait until the next time we go back to the zoo and she’ll know what sounds the animals make and maybe won’t be a little bully too.

King’s Island: Soak City

When I put ‘waterpark’ on our bucket list, I just thought we’d go to our local one. This one though… way better. There were different attractions for all ages to do. Mila loved playing in one particular area, but also ventured out in other areas that might have been a little advanced. She went down this ship slide a few times and then decided she was queen of it. During this time, she directed all the other kids to go down the slide and would tap on their backs when they weren’t going fast enough. Have I raised a strong willed child? Yes. Do I regret it? No, maybe at times now, but when she grows up, she won’t let anyone push her around.

She loved that our whole family was in the water playing with her. We splashed her in the kiddie pool and threw her back and forth in the big wave pool. On the kid slides, we attempted her to go down as many as we could do. She was a little afraid of a few of them, but I’m glad she got to experience what she thought she was ready for. The grownups, had fun playing with Mila and riding different rides. I think everyone enjoyed their time there, even though it completely wore us out.

Something memorable I did was take a waterproof, disposable camera with me. I take a TON of pictures and I wanted to make sure I didn’t hurt my phone and was able to get up and close with Mila in the water. I’m pretty sure she held the camera more saying “cheeeeeeese,” than I actually had it in my hands. No matter what though, I’m so thankful for what we captured on camera, but more happy about the lasting memories we made together.

Watching Mila discover the world and travel is everything I ever wanted for her. I’m so thankful we are able to go to different places and do things that aren’t always easy to do. These are the days that are so special to me and it truly made my birthday week, even though it’s not even over yet.

Rhinegeist Brewery

I know this post has gotten entirely long, so I’m keeping this short and simple. Rhinegeist holds my beer of the summer and it’s called Bubbles. This brewery is probably one of my favorite places in the world and I’d recommend it to anyone. Definitely check it out if you’re in the area. You will not be disappointed.

Plus it had a pretty amazing rooftop too.

So, there’s a few more bucket list items checked off. We’ll be working diligently to get the rest off as well. Fingers crossed. It’s going to be a busy next few days.

Thirty-Three Weeks.

There’s a point in everyone’s’ life where they have to decide what direction they want to go in. As much as everyone wants to keep moving forward, there’s always turns in the road. Whether you can ease into them or they’re sharp, you have to make that turn. Then there’s other times when you get lost, and have to turn around. It feels like your backtracking and nowhere near the right path.

Today it doesn’t even feel like I’m on the road. It feels like I’m pulled over and trying to figure out where I’m going  with a huge map on my hood. But at the moment, the map is incomplete.

I haven’t posted it on here, but this weekend Poe, my black cat, got outside and hasn’t come home. It’s triggered a lot of those beginning feelings of guilt, of losing Jensen and now Poe. I keep questioning what more I could have done and why does this season of grief keep getting darker? Sometimes I don’t feel like I deserve anything or that I’m the common denominator in all the negative things that have happened this past thirty-three weeks.

That probably sounds dramatic, but this day last year was completely opposite to today.

On this day last year, I was eagerly waiting for tomorrow. It would be the day I would find out Jensen was a little boy. I was so excited and it would paint a clearer picture of how the rest of our lives would go. As I look back now, I’m so jealous of me then. The road in front of me had unexpected turns, but I felt like I was going forward. There was no looking back. The little life inside of me kept encouraging me to go full speed ahead.

Since Jensen’s been born, I’ve kept saying over and over how love leads the way. Even when today makes me feel completely void of happiness and consumed with the frigid air, love touches and warms me. When I wonder why I should keep going on, I think of Jensen. I take a minute to breathe and look at this face. In it (when everyone would see his chubby cheeks, mama’s nose, and his little pout) I see my world. Even when it breaks me to know he was taken away from me, this motherly instinct keeps telling me to get back in the car and just drive.

To follow Jensen through all the turns and seasons.

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Taken by Mariah’s mama, Nicole, in Las Vegas.

For thirty-eight weeks, the roads on the map of my life were highlighted, then one day it all went black. With each step I take, the world around me becomes lit up again. I’m rediscovering and making a new map everyday. Love is my compass, even though sometimes it spins and spins and spins. There are streets without names, but I know I can always find my way back by looking for Jensen. It’s so hard to feel lost and wondering where the road is going to lead, but I’m still following it.

I’m still surviving. I’m still breathing. I’m still doing the very best I can.


Happy thirty-three weeks in heaven, Jensen. I hope you’re watching over Poe and making sure he’s safe wherever he is. Guide him, as you guide me, back home. Thank you for teaching me love and knowing it’s okay to pull over when I feel lost. You are my favorite person in all the universe. I miss you. I love you.

 

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