What Disney’s Mickey Means To Me

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It is no surprise that we as a family are head over heels for Disney’s Mickey Mouse. Pretty much anything Disney related gets us excited. I frequented Disneyland Resort as a little girl and knew once I became a mom myself that we’d adventure through Disneyland together. It all started with Mickey Mouse, literally everything and we’re so happy to have partnered with Hanna Andersson to celebrate his 90th Anniversary!

My son and I used to go to Disneyland Resort once a week. Most days we’d drive over in the afternoon, ride our favorites, snack on a churro and head home. There were a few days during the month that we’d stay till the evening to watch the nighttime parade. Romping around the Disneyland theme parks soon became our thing. I knew Disneyland through out even before my son was born. BUT getting the chance to take him and re-see the parks through his eyes, was magical. There really is nothing more incredible than watching your children experience things, happy and exciting things. You know when their face lights up and they let our a deep giggle. Or when they stop in their tracks in complete aw. I also loved the feeling of his little hands wrapped around my leg when waiting in line for our favorite rides. Disneyland was our place. 

My son, his name was Ryan, on his last day here on Earth we went to Disneyland. We woke up early and entered Disney California Adventure park being the first to enter that day! We ran straight for his favorite ride in Cars Land and rode it with giant smiles on our faces. You know, I had no idea I’d be forced to say to good bye to my Ryan that night. Though I have to believe that us being able to enjoy Disneyland together just one more time was meant to be. If you are familiar with our story then you know, that night we lost Ryan quick and out of the blue. It tore my inside out and our whole world crashed down. I share it all on my blog, but I’ll be the first one to tell you that how we lost him doesn’t matter. What matters is that we continue to live in his honor. What matters is that we still do the things Ryan loved to do. What matters is that we share how we kept living despite the hurt and pain thrown our way. 

My first time back to Disneyland after my son passed was something I was dreading. I felt scared because I didn’t want a place that was so grand to suddenly became a dark place for me. I knew I had to go to just see, to just experience it now with Ryan up in Heaven. I had to go for him. So I went. That day was immensely sad with hints of happiness around every corner. Visiting Disneyland that day was when I really began to understand that I could feel sad and happy at the same time. Come to find out, I feel happy and sad nearly everyday now that is OK. It is OK to feel two feelings at the same time. I realized that Disneyland was still our place. It still held our memories and laughs. I decided to keep going just as we did before and even today it feels like Ryan meets us there. 

My daughter Mila was born after we lost our son Ryan. In our family we speak of him daily and remember him out loud. Mila knows who her big brother is and she tells me that he lives in the sky. There sibling bond is like no other and I am so honored to call Ryan and Mila my children. Soon after Mila came into our lives we took her Disneyland. Mila now is two and adores anything Disney just like her mom and big brother. We frequent Disneyland Resort once a week and work in a few nights a month where we stay late for the nighttime parade. Mila enjoys different things within the park than her brother did, which I love to see. I love to see how they differ. What I find the most magical is that I can now walk around a place with both my kids at the same time, and that really doesn’t happen for me anywhere else. Disneyland is still our place.

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You know, this motherhood of mine isn’t pretty and tied up with a bow. What happened to me is every parents nightmare. Though it happened to me and I am proud to think that God thought me strong enough to endure it. I believe in so many things but one thought I live by is, life isn’t about what happens to you, it is about how you react to what happens to you. Today my family of four visit Disneyland Resort any chance we get. For us it means we can all be together. When you see us together you will only see three, but our son beams from our smiles and the fun we have together as a family. 

Disney’s Mickey Mouse will forever mean the most to us. We are so grateful for what Disney’s Mickey Mouse and Disneyland in general. When Hanna Andersson asked us to share why Disney’s Mickey Mouse was important to us, I couldn’t pass. I know he means different things to different families across the world. I’m just honored I could share about ours. We love the new Disney’s Mickey Mouse pajamas in celebration of his 90th Anniversary! I love that they are red, which was Ryan’s favorite color. The gold shines bright along all the memories our family has within Disneyland. 

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Self Soothing Banana Bread & A Hearty Good Bye To May

If you haven’t gathered from these last few weeks, the month of May is quite hard. Not just for me although I feel like it may be mostly me. It definitely isn’t just me, but I do talk about it more than anyone else. It is how I cope with my feelings, my grief and every other thing that loss brings to the surface. At one point this month I felt itchy, literally itchy! I couldn’t wrap my brain around not having my son with me and it has been four years! Though for some reason all the pain comes rushing back and floods my insides, making me insane. Or not insane, well ya, insane for a good long moment until my feet touch the ground again. My feet only getting to touch the ground again after I write out my feelings or spill them all out of my mouth onto my husband. Sometimes I pour it all out on social media, opening myself and my wound for everyone to see and do what they will with it. Once it is all out I start to feel better. My senses regain and I’m still very sad but can slowly move forward again. It isn’t just during the month of May I feel this way. It is just that May holds the day we lost Ryan, the day of his funeral and all the upside down days in between. May brings that physical reminder that he is gone and that he was ripped away. Ohhh and don’t forget about those days right afterwards. Or that first night with out him where you refused to take your shoes off because if you did then it would all become real. You know, I finally got rid of those damn shoes just last month.

I used to think that my go-to coping mechanism was writing, telling my husband how I feel or sharing my thoughts on my blog/social media. I mean I know I exercise to help process negative feelings. I often like to visit the places I once frequented holding my son’s hand, like Disneyland. But this month I finally realized that sometimes, sometimes I self sooth by eating. This month in particular I noticed myself feeling warm and happy when I ate a slice of banana bread from Starbucks! It sounds so silly even now as I type it out. Silly or embarrassing? Both. But it is true. All this month I’d work in a quick drive thru trip to snag a slice of banana bread from Starbucks. I’d ask for it warmed and enjoy it slowly as I drove to wherever I was off to next. It made me feel good and during a month where feeling good was hard to find, I went for it with this damn bread. I’ll be honest, it isn’t the best banana bread I’ve had. My moms banana bread is actually the best. I also make a pretty great version. But the drive thu was a quick fix! I’ve finally comes to terms with myself and this self soothing banana bread routine. I’m thinking I need to stop going so often, but I won’t hold back if it is something that I feel like I need in a pinch. A pinch being a really low time, a bad day, that kind of thing. Or I can make it myself, which makes me feel even better because I love being in my tiny kitchen.

The idea of self soothing is something I am slowly understanding. I think we all do it in so many ways. My daughter does it with her pacifier. I do it when I go to the gym or do my full face wash routine after Mila goes to bed. My mom (and I) do it with a glass of wine at the end of a long day. I did it all this month ordering warm banana bread. I think we all go through hard times and to give yourself an opportunity to self sooth is important. So long as it isn’t going to hurt you in the long run. (Which is why I won’t be eating banana bread for a little while ;) BUT IT IS SO GOOD!

How do you self sooth? Are you aware of it while you are doing it? I think it is kinda wild that I just now noticed what I was doing all month by driving to Starbucks 2-3 times a week for banana bread. I’m like “Oh! You were sad and the bread made you feel happy for a quick moment.” Then I feel like crying because how miserable is that?! You know what else? No one knew. No one knows except now, who ever reads this will know.

I am happy that this month is finally over. I am grateful for the hard to swallow memories because they ultimately remind me of how strong I was and can be. How strong I am now. I feel relieved and ready to play in next months sunshine. I feel a little defeated because I know that even after a full month of feeling blah, it all won’t truly ever disappear. But then I feel OK. I will be OK and truthfully the good always outweighs the bad. And now I know, that I’ll always have banana bread.

Sharing my recipe for banana bread below …

Photos by Lily Ro Photography

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CLASSIC BANANA BREAD

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 45-60 minutes

Servings: 8-12 slices

INGREDIENTS

1 stick of softened unsalted butter

1/2 cup white sugar + a pinch for the topping

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk

4 ripe bananas

2 cups sifted flour

1 tsp baking soda

pinch of salt

1 tsp cinnamon

1 cup unsalted walnuts

1 inch of vanilla bean. Split the bean down the center and use the tip of the knife to scoop out the vanilla beans inside.

You'll need a 8x5 loaf pan and parchment paper to line the pan with.

*You can swap the flour for Gluten Free FLour. *You can omit the waluts all together or your favorite nut. *You can omit the vanilla bean for the nut topping. I just love the additional warm vanilla taste it gives the bread overall.

STEPS

1

In a small bowl toss the walnuts with a pinch of white sugar and the vanilla beans. Set this aside.

2

Next pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees. Butter your loaf pan and place a piece of parchment paper at the bottom of your pan. This will allow your bread to come out of the pan easily.

3

In a bowl peel and mash the bananas. You can use a fork to mash the bananas or a potato masher. You'll want to mash the bananas until they break down into a desirable consistency. If you want large banana chunks through out your bread then don't mash them to much. I love mashing them until they are nearly smooth so the bananas evenly permeate the bread. Either way it is tasty!

4

In a large bowl whisk together your butter and the white + brown sugar. Whisk these until they become combined and smooth.

5

Next whisk in your vanilla and eggs.

6

Now whisk in your milk and bananas.

7

Last you'll want to use a wooden spoon or spatula to fold in your sifted flour and baking soda. Continue to fold until the batter comes together and everything is well combined.

8

Pour your batter into the loaf pan.

9

Sprinkle on your vanilla bean and sugared walnuts. Press the walnuts gently into the top of the batter.

10

Bake your bread for about 45-60 minutes or until golden brown and fully baked. Be sure to use a tooth pick or wooden skewer to check if the middle of your bread is cooked through. Stick the toothpick into the center of the bread. If it comes out clean then the bread is done. If it comes out with wet batter on it, then the bread needs to cook a bit longer.

11

Enjoy your banana bread warm and store in an air tight container for up to a week.

Ryan's 7th Bday And The Fight For Happiness

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You know, these last few weeks I have been seemingly happy. Trucking along through out the days and not really noticing how extremely anxious I've felt deep inside about September approaching. I have this really awful habit of forcing feelings down, down, down until they get masked thick with other things. Before I know it I am drowning, my mind goes to mush and instead of happiness coming easy I feel like I have to walk through quick sand to find it. It happens fast and I honestly don’t know until I know. I look back and I’m like “oh! this is why I’ve felt so damn numb and now I feel awful!” Then I tell myself, remind myself that I must feel the things I need to when I need to … or else this incredible fight to feel happiness will rear up again.

My issue is, my son would have been seven years old this September and he isn't physically here to celebrate. Which quite frankly has been the case for his sixth birthday, fifth birthday and fourth. Every year I go through this crashing wave of anger over the fact that my son isn’t growing before my eyes. I now have to imagine what he would be like, the things he’d be into at this age and what exactly life would be like with him by my side. I typically feel more anger around his birthday than when I miss him during the holidays because birthdays in our family are a big deal! We have small traditions that have huge impact and most of the time our celebrations last a few days. So, I feel angry Ryan isn’t here. Though, I hate feeling angry for two reasons 1. because he wouldn’t want me to feel angry and 2. I can’t do anything about it so feeling angry sometimes just is a waste. Also, I feel guilty about feeling angry when I look at Mila and then look at my son’s face in photos … my kids are great I can’t feel angry right?!

Anger is the feeling I mask the most and you’d think that after nearly three and half years with out Ryan this whole grief monster would get easier to slay. It doesn’t. In fact, the monster stays the same I just learn knew things about it, develop strength against it and so on. I mask my anger and I’m like “oh! this is why I’ve felt so damn numb and now I feel awful!” Then I tell myself, remind myself that I must feel the things I need to when I need to … or else this incredible fight to feel happiness will rear up again.

This past week I licked my wounds so to speak, let myself feel what I needed to and teetered on the decision to celebrate big (like we always do) or take it easy this year, do something small and let the day pass. See! This is why I want to mask anger and sometimes sadness because when I let those emotions in and rule the roost negative thoughts take over. We nearly didn't do anything for his birthday. But I soon realized that that wouldn’t be fair to Ryan. I pushed negativity aside and decided to go big because turning seven is fun and this family deserves to have fun even if it hurts a little.

I never really know how to explain what goes on in my head. I try to. I believe my husband can read it on my face sometimes. I am sorry if this sounds like a jumbled up mess. Though if you’ve lost someone you love, I think you know that life with out them is a jumbled mess. A mess that you strive forever to make sense of.

“Ok! Enough already!” says my kids (and probably my husband too) get to the fun stuff! My family and I ventured to - surprise surprise - Disneyland for two days and stayed at the Disneyland Hotel. We’ve been staying there and celebrating Ryan’s birthday since the beginning and it just wouldn’t seem right to not. We spend one full day playing in the pool and drinking fun drinks poolside and the next playing in the parks. This trip we did a little bit of adventuring and found a fun fireworks viewing area on the top of the Paradise Pier hotel. That night will forever be burned in my memory. The three of us huddled together high atop the hotel watching the fireworks was just the best. What is it about fireworks?! On Ryan’s actual birthday we made it to the park before open and the cast members let us open the park for everyone! (I posted the video on my Instagram) The rest of the day went by so fast, but in a really good way. We celebrated Ryan the way we knew he would have loved. Truth is, even as his age grows with out him, we’ll continue to celebrate our three and half year old the way we remember him. Which again, stinks because I look at my friends boys growing older and get jealous. But I have to let those feelings go I guess. Well, I need to feel them and then let them go.

And with that Ryan’s birthday has slipped by and I feel proud looking back at it. I tell myself, remind myself that I must feel the things I need to when I need to … this incredible fight to feel happiness will never cease. I learn that and re-learn it often. Though it is a struggle to feel happiness, once I feel it, I understand the worth of the fight.

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Courage & Sharing Your Story - The Words I Spoke At The Be Bonafide Conference

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Recently I had the honor of speaking at the Be Bonafide event here in Los Angeles. The event was incredible and I wish I could attend something similar to it monthly. Just because it was great for my soul and being around women who were so vulnerable and willing to work on themselves was humbling. Seeing women gather to support one another and share in each others trails and triumphs is aw-inspiring. Be Bonafide is all about breaking down our barriers and connecting with one another on a level playing field. Making ourselves vulnerable helps us connect in a more real and raw way. Resulting in such amazing outcomes and personal connections made with women who can help each other in more ways than one. You can follow along with Be Bonafide here and keep an eye out for their next event. It is truly worth it and I hope to see you there when the time comes! (I know I will be there).

The girls who run Be Bonafide asked if I would be willing to speak at their event and I jumped at the chance! I decided to pull together words on how I channel courage to share my personal story. I decided to share my story and how I bank of my own courage to help propel me forward while sharing every inch of my life with my blog readers and social media community. I knew I wanted to talk about this specifically because I have come to realize that sharing my personal story has been beneficial for so many. I wanted to share in hopes of inspiring others to share their own stories and help others by doing so.

Below are the words I pulled together for my speech. It might have sounded different in person but the message is still the same. As always, thank you all so much for coming here and spending time with me and my family. I adore you more than you know and I can't think of a better way to get through this life than to share it all with you.

. . .

"Hello! I am so excited to be here on such a special night. Thank you a million to the Be Bonafide girls for inviting me to this incredible evening. For those of you who do not know who I am, my name is Jacqui or Baby Boy Bakery. But my actual name is Jacqui ;) I am a mom of two, I have a son name Ryan who would have been 6 years old and my daughter Mila who is 17 months! I run an online business called Baby Boy Bakery Kids where I create products that encourage parent child involvement and memory keeping. Some of you might follow along with me and my family on Instagram, where I share our every move. When the lovely ladies of Be Bonafide asked me if I would be interested in speaking here tonight I thought at first what would I talk about? But this online world is growing by the minute and one thing it lacks are people willing to share their true self and the trials they go through. I get it. It definitely is more fun to share about the great outfit we are wearing or how cute our children are. Though, for me I started my tiny space on the internet seeking friendship and conversation and over time life happened. To me, I had no other option than to share my life and what was going on. The good. The bad. The tragic. But like I said, it is a lot easier to share the "fun" stuff. To share the bad or sad take guts. To share your entire being and your truest thoughts takes courage. So, I’m here tonight to chat about how I use an immense about of courage to share my entire world with everyone. And in the end I'm hoping you'll start to do the same.

As I mentioned before, I started my blog about 6 years ago when my son Ryan was just a baby. I started it because I was the first to have a baby in my circle of friends and I was craving friends who knew a thing or two about having kids. I started out sharing recipes and motherhood mishaps from my first time parenting experience. When Instagram became a thing I joined and began sharing everyday, twice a day even what Ryan and I were up to. I am not kidding, I would take photos of everything and post them. Not really sure (or caring even) who was looking. I just did it for me and my son to have and still to this day our photos are my most prized possession and I can't thank God enough I had the brains to capture our every move! Over the years we accumulated this rad little online community and I made some life long friends via social media. Three years ago on what seemed like a normal day, I woke up early. Ryan and I got ready and made our way to our favorite place. Disneyland. The movie Cars was his absolute favorite and the Cars Land at Disneyland was his hot spot. Though he had never been tall enough to ride the main Racers ride. That morning though I had a hunch and we arrived at Disneyland when it opened so we could hustle to be first in line. The cast member manning the line let us through and I honestly think it was Ryan’s massive head of red curls that made the height requirement. But we rode the ride for Ryan’s first time and it was incredible! We spent the rest of the early morning and afternoon running around Disneyland and then headed home to have dinner with our family.

That night we lost Ryan and he made his way to Heaven. It happened quick, too fast, but it happened and my entire life started to crumble and that was it. From that moment my whole life changed.

I spent weeks just sort of sitting in a haze. I honestly couldn’t tell you what happened during that time. All I know is that my husband and I were surrounded by our family. Over the past month I made my way up for air and was blown away by the support from strangers all over the world. It was incredible. I remember thinking, "Ok Jacqui. You have two options. You can roll over and pull the plug on what you and Ryan had built together (Baby Boy Bakery). You can go about your life and slowly but surely things will ease back. Or you can get up and shout from the rooftops what your feeling, how you are dealing and reminisce about Ryan for whoever cares to see and listen." I honestly felt like I couldn’t ever stop talking about my son. I love talking about him and my memories of us together. He gave me three and half years of goodness! All not to be forgotten. When I wrote about my grief and how I was dealing with the loss of my son it helped me get out emotions and that fierce anger I had inside of me. So I kept writing and posting it on my blog and social media, not for anyone but for me and for son. Or so I thought. It turns out, my son and I, I've come to believe are here to share and to help those going through pain or loss themselves. Or even help families love a little deeper, live a little wilder and to not take a second for granted.

I remember at first people writing me and even coming up to me in person telling me “Thank You!” Thank you for sharing, you have helped me get through my mom passing away or other hard times. At first I was mad. I didn’t understand how my tragedy was helping others. I remember being livid like “Thanks, I’m glad my son passing away is helping you out!” But in time, it clicked. It wasn’t my sons passing that was helping, it was the fact that I was still showing face and trying my hardest to live a life in his honor. In some way, seeing someone take a serious hit is scary. But seeing them get back up and keep going is oddly satisfying and albeit inspiring. Though, when someone tells me I am inspiring I still can wrap my head around it. I am just a mom, of two, doing my best at this life given to me. The only way I know how to cope is to talk about what I am going through. And when I'm tired of talking, I eat ice cream and watch Friends re-runs.

Day in and day out sharing my hurt isn’t easy and it is scary letting your thoughts roam around the internet! It takes a lot of courage to share your life! It takes courage to share the things that aren’t so pretty or things that don't add up to create a perfect IG feed. I’d encourage you do channel your courage and share whatever you are going through. Because you’ll end up helping those around you. Honest. Sharing our trials and tribulations connects us and creates a safe community where we can be ourselves. So, over the past three years my husband and I have been working on redefining our life and what it looks like with out Ryan. We were blessed with our daughter Mila and she has helped us heal in ways we never imagined. Our live is ever changing I am so deeply proud of us. There are hard days and really great days all compiling to create this great life that we live in honor of Ryan. I imagine him smiling with us, laughing with us and cheering me on as I break down my barriers and share my most inner thoughts with you all."

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Recent Feelings & Trying Hard To Understand Them

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Real talk. This month has been a little difficult. I’ve had this darkness I can’t seem to shake, a grey cloud if you will that just follows me around. It lifts only a few times to let me breath a bit easier, but for the most part it hangs out with me. I see myself as one of those cartoons with a rainy cloud only raining a top my head. Only raining a top my head while everyone dances and goes about their life merrily. That last sentence is so dramatic. It is the truth though! Also, when you feel down you tend to feel more alone than ever. At least that is how it is for me. I feel sad and then take a look around only to see everyone having a great time. I think a lot of people feel like that at times. Just recently for me the darkness and that 'alone' feeling is more heavy than ever.

I’ve said here before that time is everything. Given enough time, things grow. Things heal. I have found that to be true. Especially while grieving the loss of my son, time has given my heart the chance to heal. However, I feel as though my healing heart has ceased. I was doing good! I was choosing happy over sad everyday no matter how hard it was. I was smiling and spending every waking moment with my daughter enjoying every ounce of this life God has given me. A lot of the time that came with ease. I didn't have to force the happy for the most part. I thought I was going a great job. But this month I feel as though I have fallen and I can’t rid the pain. I miss Ryan more than ever and I can’t explain why. Because I thought with time things just naturally got easier? How is it possible that I feel just as raw as I did just days after losing Ryan? I feel myself moving forward, growing stronger as I navigate this journey of grief. How can I dip so low again?

This weekend I really tried to make sense of it all. Feeling so damn guilty for missing Ryan as much as I do. Feeling guilty as I hold my daughter as she sleeps in my arms, tears falling down my face because I wish I got to feel the weight of Ryan within my arms. I wish I could feel his hair tickle my neck as we hugged. I am so grateful for both my children. It's just that sometimes I want to have both of them physically with me and because I can't, well that just hurts. As I yearn for Ryan, I feel guilty because my daughter is right here! I shouldn't feel so sad and upset while I have Mila. Does it make me a terrible mother for wanting my son back so bad that sometimes I cry while even playing with Mila? Saying that out loud just makes me feel awful, which keeps that damn rainy cloud above my head.

I think last year as we embarked on life with Mila, things just were so good after being so bad. I definitely rode the high. I had bad days, but I kept surpassing them with all the great that Mila brought with her. I remember soon after losing Ryan I wrote that grief comes in waves. (you can read that post here) A few times grief can crash into you, taking your breath away. A few times grief calmly comes and washes over your feet. A few times grief's tide stays idle. I thought I understood these feelings. I thought I had a handle on them. I guess it turns out that I did, but now not so much. And really, that is ok! These feelings will be with me until I get to see my son again. My heart never will fully heal, always bearing a Ryan shaped hole within it. The waves will come and go. I know happiness will come a bit easier soon. I know I shouldn’t feel guilty, even though I still do. I feel confident in understanding these emotions. I know that I have to feel them, then try my hardest to let go of them for a while. After the darkness come light right? Is that how the saying goes? Mila has proven to be my light.

I've been keeping all this in since the holidays. Afraid really to tell it all because well I have no idea why. I share everything here. I guess that mom guilt got to me and strangled my will to share. Though I know a lot of us feel awful sometimes. And that 'alone' feeling can hit any of us. I hope that by me sharing will show you that you are in fact not alone. I know we are all going through so many struggles. Big or small they are all valid. Know that what you are feeling is ok and that feeling dark needs to be felt. It will make you appreciate and hold tightly to the light when it finally shines.

Sending you all my love! As always, thank you for listening to my heart.

These photos are iPhone pics that we took over the weekend during the short break from rain.

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La La Land With My Littles

It is actually quite often I get emotional after seeing movies or listening to songs that strike a cord within me. I tend to cry, listen or watch things again and again. I've always been that way. Sometimes when I see or listen to things I feel like they were made for me. Do things ever make you feel like that? Like certain pieces of art were meant for me to see, to hear. I let myself get caught up in it all and it honestly feels good at times. It feels good to let things make me feel, make me remember. I love when things make me remember certain things from my past. Recently, I watched La La Land and though it was a love story that really doesn't seem like it would play much into my life ... it was the backdrop and character of Los Angeles that resonated with me. It was where the scenes where sung and danced upon that struck an emotional cord within me and left me reeling. Left me yearning for my children and the places we frequent. The love story to me translated to the love story between me and my children. The fierce, fiery fight to achieve your dreams had me thinking thats what I want for my children. Hell, that is what I want for myself too. La La Land or Los Angeles rather is truly a place of brightly lit dreams and all of us are chasing after them. Myself included.

Now, after I see movies that hit home I gush about them. Though isn't that what you do when you find something you relate to? You talk about it, think about it. Maybe we do it more internally or maybe we share our random thoughts with close friends. Something that we can relate to ... isn't that what we all are searching for while on our path of life? Someone or something relatable, so as not to feel so alone. To not feel alone or maybe sometimes to help bring back memories that find themselves lost after a while.

At the risk of sounding too nutty, I have to say I truly loved this movie for many reasons. The colors, the music, the dance, Ryan Gosling ;) A few of the scenes made me think about my children and the places we visit to have fun. One place in particular I go with my daughter Mila to feel the spirit of my son Ryan. Griffith Park Observatory will always be a place where I can go to spend time with both my children, a pleasure I don't have on a day to day basis. I can't physically feel both my children at once, but in certain places I can feel my son, his spirit gleams brighter in places where we shared so many great adventures. Does that make sense?

When Ryan was about 2 months old my mother came to visit. I was in that new mom rut of really not knowing what the hell I was doing. Newborns were a territory unknown to me and lost I couldn't figure out what to do in between the feedings, diapers and naps. My mom helped me pack a bag, folded up the stroller and found a place we could go walk around. A place that had a beautiful view, a beautiful museum and a popular landmark in the distance. A place with a large green grass area perfect for picnics. We ventured to the Griffith Park Observatory and I was hooked. The views took my breath away. I was also stunned by how simple it was to take an infant places. After that first visit, I took Ryan there just us two nearly ever week. His first year of life lived in front of that Griffith backdrop. He learned how to run fast on that sprawling green grass. Three and half years we spent traipsing around that historic spot. Historic to Los Angeles. Historic to us.

Once Ryan was in Heaven I never went back. I cut ties with a lot of places we frequented. Simply because it hurt just too damn bad. I hated that these places still kept going. Why couldn't they just close down? Go away, go up into the skies with my son. I wanted to just give up on all things us. For a moment I wanted nothing to do with what once was. It took nearly two years to venture back to our sacred La La Land jewel. My first time back I came with Ryan's little sister in tow. Feeling stronger, feeling nostalgic over the memories I made there with my son. Feeling hopeful for the memories to be made there with my daughter in our future. Oh please may she loves this place just as much as her big brother. As I walked around the observatory I felt so good. The sun warming up my back, the warmth I new was my son. He was there. I was sure of that.

That day I went back to Griffith Park was quite some time ago. It was a pretty fantastic day. I'll always remember that day because it was the first time I ever felt both my children at once. Since that first visit back, Mila and I have been quite a few times. We walk around, but her and I hike a bit around in the hills near the observatory. Something I never did with Ryan. Mila and I making our own mark, our own memories. This place has really become a playground for us. All three of us!

As life goes on, memories and feelings fade. Things get dusty in your mind. Work becomes priority and special mementoes get lost. If it weren't for songs, tastes of certain foods, scents or in this case movies, we'd lose certain memories forever! La La Land brought me back to that special day at the Griffith Observatory. The music, the love everything just brought me back to when I held both my children at once. It made me realize that we, my children and I, are on this path of achieving our dreams. Together we are carrying each other through life singing happy and sad songs. You can't have life with out both happy and sad. My son taught me that. I imagine us dancing in the clouds, I imagine Ryan guiding his sister and I, I imagine me and my two children together laughing. All from a movie. (I bet I sound like a nut bag huh?)

I'm not sure if my reaction to this film was correct. I know I always think about my children. I know this week has been a pretty emotional one for me and it also was the week I went to see La La Land two times in a row. I know I am always emotional and when things resonate with me I can't shake it. Though this all may seem like babble, it makes sense to me. The film was stunning and it brought me back to a pretty monumental day.

I'll continue to dance with my little ones around our city of stars ...

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Our Happiest Holiday On The Horizon

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Have you ever felt good things coming? The air around you seems thick with sweetness, your body feels light and smiles are easy to come by. Possibly a skip or two might work its way down and out your happy feet? I feel good things coming ...

Since losing Ryan the holiday season has been nothing short of a painful gut punch. Awaking on Christmas morning with the wind knocked out of both Dan and I as we just cried together in bed. The pain so bad it was as if we were losing him all over again, but in slow motion as our past Christmas memories burned within. This year, I was ready for it. I foresaw the pain and I knew what it had in store for me. Knowing now how to handle it all. I stood there near Thanksgiving ready and willing to take on my grief. Though, it never came. I feel deep within my heart a great deal of sadness that this is our third holiday with out Ryan. However, our happiness this time around out weighed the sadness. I feel the four of us together. I look at Mila and tears of joy fall with out abandon. The feeling of gratitude for my life is now the reason I am out of breath … and it feels so good.

This holiday season isn’t wrapped up in a nice bow. Mila isn’t our cure. I wish so badly I could hear Ryan begging for specific Christmas gifts. There will be tears. There will be moments were I will have to sit and just remember Ryan. I will have to give myself some time to grieve, because holidays with out the ones you love are brutally difficult. However, this holiday seems to be laced with sparkle and magic as well! Dan and I graciously get to experience Christmas physically with our child once again. Saying that I am grateful seems like an understatement! No, Mila is not a cure, though she has proven to mend parts of our broken hearts.

The last two holidays with just Dan and I seemed so empty. The first holiday season we escaped to the snow and didn’t even acknowledge Christmas. The second holiday season I was pregnant with Mila and things seemed lighter, except I was 200 pounds and about to give birth any second. ;) It was happier than the first. Now with our third holiday season upon us we are ready to do it all again. Meaning our traditions we started with Ryan. Our traditions we haven’t done since losing him. We are ready to buy gifts, stuff stockings. I’m not kidding when I say I am crying as I just typed that last sentence. The tears of joy are real you guys. And it is weird, I feel Ryan more than I have ever lately. I feel him. I see his smile. He is everywhere. Is it weird to think that he is just as happy as we are? He gets the best of both worlds I’d assume. Christmas with us and Christmas with God himself seems pretty incredible. My boy deserves it all. This year, I will buy Ryan something small. I will wrap it and put it underneath the tree. I don’t know who will physically open it … but he will always have gifts under our tree.

One of my most favorite traditions was getting hot chocolate and driving around this neighborhood that has the most incredible Christmas lights displayed. We would have all the windows down and Christmas music blaring. Ryan used to love it. I can’t wait to take Mila this year! I’m am thrilled to visit Santa for a photo again too! I can’t wait to wrap gifts for Mila. Christmas morning this year will just be wonderful. Our happiest holiday is on the horizon.

I feel good things coming. The air I breath in is sweet and smile inducing. There is a slight skip in my step. I am happy, I get to do Christmas again.

Photos by Dulcet Creative

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Carousel Rides With My Littles

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You know, as I sit here and write this I am in a coffee shop. A little coffee shop near my house that gets so crowded. I’m sitting at a small table in the back, people are packed in reading, working, doing whatever it is we do in coffee shops these days. It is early, Mila and Dan are most likely still sleeping back at home. I’m sitting here trying to think what would I be doing if Ryan were here? Tears are stinging my eyes as I sit here. The tears are pricking the brim of my eyes and I am fighting them to not fall down my face. For a person who wears her feelings on her sleeve, to keep from crying is torture. I already feel like I am going insane most days, I don’t want to actually fit the part and start crying in public here. Really though, I can’t help it. Here they come, down my face.

Lately, I have been feeling so desperate. So desperate to have Ryan present in everything. I feel this strong pull to bring him up. Talk about him. Include him in everything we do. Each time I do it hurts. But he is my child and I feel like I need to bring him along, everywhere. You know, being my sort of mother of two is difficult at times. If I ever shy away from bringing along my son on some level, I feel guilty. I think back on the day he was born. They day he was born was also the day I was born a mother. Ryan made me a mother and just because he has passed away, doesn’t mean he is gone. At least to me it doesn’t mean that.

If you know me personally or have been reading my blog/Instagram for the last three years, you know that I strive to make Ryan present. It is something that helps me, yet hurts at the same time. But growth and healing hurt a little each time progress is made. Steps forward are forever laced with bittersweetness.

This past Easter, I hid eggs for him. Why? Who would find them? Mila got his eggs. Is that weird? Sometimes I think I should just let it all rest. It would be easier to do that right? Honestly though what is easy? I’ve come to the realization that nothing for me will be easy. I have been so desperate to bring Ryan along with us because I am desperate to not lose him completely. If I never bring him up, I don’t think anyone will. He made me a mother, I am his mother and it is my job to have him stand by me. Or at least imagine he is. There is nothing wrong with imagining things is there?

I sit here and I think of him up in Heaven. I am not entirely sure how it is up there, I know it is fun. I know it has to be a damn good place. I hope someone is cutting his sandwich into hearts and dinosaurs like he loves. I think of Ryan looking down on us. Watching Dan and I. I imagine him smiling and laughing at his little sister. I think of him coming down however angels do, to her give her kisses and to whisper mischievous ideas into her ear. I believe they have a relationship far beyond what I can even imagine. These thoughts, they help me. They also frustrate the crap out of me. They remind me how upset I am that I have to live out my two children with one in my arms and one far from my reach. But, when I look at Mila and see hints of her brother. When I see her growing up into her own tiny, extremely happy self I feel lucky.

My mother of two journey is difficult. I say I wouldn’t change it, though if I could have them both I would. This back and forth is kills me. Lately it has me feeling so heavy. I’ve been keeping a lot of these jumbled thoughts to myself and writing them all out helps me feel lighter. Helps me remember just how blessed I am. Letting it out helps me let it go and the feeling of gratitude rushes in.

Ryan and I used to visit San Francisco often. As much as we frequented that incredible city, we never made it to the Koret Carousel. If you haven’t been, GO! It is really cute and there are fun things for little ones to do. The last time we were in the city I took Mila on the carousel. I like to think Ryan was with us too. He was.

A few photos from that fun afternoon with my little ones…

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