The Missing Trick-or-Treater

Our family always does holidays big. 

Patrick and I are continually trying to make sure that Madeline can look back on her childhood and see magic. We want her to have memories of all of the special traditions that we have started with her and will continue for years to come. 

Halloween is no exception. 

This past month we have gone to the pumpkin patch to pick out the perfect pumpkins. We have painted pumpkins. We have done Halloween themed crafts and made treats. We have gone to our town’s yearly Pumpkins on Parade. We have visited fall festivals, Halloween parades, and trunk-or-treats. We have gone to Boo at the Zoo and played dress-up for days at a time. Tonight we will trick-or-treat and pass out treats of our own. We have created amazing memories with our brave little Supergirl. 

All throughout all of these special moments there is that one piece missing. 

That one piece of our family that is always missing, yet we feel it all that more intensely during these special holiday moments. Joshua. 
We always miss him, every moment of every day. 

But these holidays. 

These special, magical, amazing family moments we get to have with his little sister make his absence felt even more than usual. 

We have four years of adorable photos of our sweet girl dressed up as a ladybug, a black cat, Princess Sophia, and Supergirl. With each costume I wonder what her big brother would have wanted to be. Batman, a Ninja Turtle, a Ghostbuster, a dinosaur, Superman to match his little sister…

I look at the matching sibling costumes that my friends post, I see the adorable Poppy and Branch Trolls costumes, the Catboy and Owlette PJ Masks outfits, and my heart wonders if Josh and Maddy would have wanted to dress-up together. 

The very first thing I ever bought for Joshua when I was pregnant with him was a pair of My First Halloween pajamas. We didn’t even know if he was a little girl or boy at that point, but I saw the soft pumpkin covered pajamas and just knew that our baby had to have them. When we dressed his sister in them two years later, my heart ached knowing that this was not the way I wanted to be passing down his things…unused. 

That feeling of missing is always there, but these holidays…they make it especially hard to fight back the tears and the longing to know just who he would be now. 

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Superhero Skills

Madeline is convinced she is a superhero. 
So much so that she is going as Supergirl for Halloween this year. 

“”

I’m hoping that her superhero skills serve her well. She is brave. She is strong. She is always trying to do the right thing.

It is no mystery that kids, especially girls, can be cruel to one another. I swear I want to walk around holding up a shield when she starts school. But instead I will do my best to arm her with enough self confidence to know that she is worthy of respect and that insults are not worthy of her time. Enough compassion that when she is a witness to bullying of any kind she can be one of the ones that stands up and speaks out. 

I will send her with armor, just a bit more metaphorical than the Wonder Woman shield I was planning on walking into her first day of Kindergarten with, though let’s face it not nearly as fun

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Life Lesson: Be Kind. Always. 

The news gives me anxiety. 

I watch it and I’m always afraid and ashamed by what I see. Violence. Hate. Fear. It’s really just too much. 

I live in middle America. I live in a very diverse suburb of a diverse city in Missouri. My daughter will go to school with children of all races, ethnicities, and religions. She will have classmates who don’t speak English as their first language and some whose parents don’t speak it at all. I am very proud that she will go to such a school. 

She will be raised in home that teaches her that people are people, children are children, and everyone deserves love, respect, and an equal opportunity. 

I am sad that she has to live in a world that will try and teach her otherwise. 

I will do my best to teach her that being kind is the most important thing she can do. That she should always be kind, compassionate, inclusive, and respectful. I will teach her that even if someone looks different than her, talks different than her, or believes different than her they are beautiful and can still be an amazing friend. Because differences are sometimes the best parts of friendships. 

I will not shelter her from the reality that is racism and hate that still exists in this world, but I will teach her to be one that stands up against it.  I will teach her to be part of a generation that really does become the change. 

I want better for her and for her friends and I know that starts with how I raise her. 

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A Broken Crayon Still Colors

I often find myself telling Madeline that broken crayons still color.  


I think it’s one of the more profound words of wisdom I have given my three year old so far. While I’m quite literally reassuring her that the broken Crayola in her hand will in fact still color in her coloring book just as beautifully as before, it means so much more. 

This is advice that I hope she is able to apply to more than just her crayon box. 

In life there are times where she will feel broken. Her heart, her spirit, her motivation. I want her to remember that she is still full of beautiful colors that even when broken can still color. 

She was made for a purpose and even if it might not always feel clear to her, she was created to do great things. 

We call her our rainbow baby because she was born after the storm of our loss. She brought light and color into our lives where there was much darkness and pain. Everywhere she goes she leaves a path of color and joy. I believe this is part of her purpose. Joy. She brings joy wherever she goes. 

I want her to remember that even those days where she feels like the world is working against her, that smile of hers is enough to bring joy to someone around her. A broken crayon can still color. 

Even while she is nursing a broken heart and feels like she might never love again, she can hold a door open for someone and that might make the difference in their day. A broken crayon can still color. 

If she someday finds out that her best friend has lied behind her back, she can go and sit at the lunch table with the new girl in school and make a new friend. A broken crayon can still color. 

I want her to always remember that she is here for a reason. She was created for a purpose. Even when she feels lost and aimless God can still use her and work through her. Sometimes it is that very brokenness that He uses. 

Our own brokenness gives us empathy and grows our compassion. It helps us know the right words to say when we meet someone walking down the same broken road. 

While I wish nothing but sunshine and rainbows for my beautiful little girl, I know that she will face the storms too. I know that she will unfortunately get her heart broken, have her spirit broken, or just feel broken down at times. I just pray that she will have the strength to know that even when broken she is still beautiful inside and out and capable of changing the world. 

That sparkly pink crayon can still color just as bright even if it breaks. 

But for now I’ll just keep buying her new crayons when hers break. I’ll fix as much of her brokenness as I can for as long as I can. 

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Matching Set

Everyday this week Madeline has insisted that we match outfits. 


This started on Monday after I had already had her dressed in a pretty purple floral skirt and white shirt. This was awful. This would not do. This did not match the black shirt and black and white striped skirt that mommy was wearing. I should have known that she wanted to wear a black shirt and black and white striped skirt too. 

There were tears and a full outfit change so that she could match and then lots of extra cuddles to make up for the horrible mistake.  

She has done this before. Asked to wear a matching skirt or shirt that I am wearing. It’s usually a one day phase and she goes back to her normal routine of asking to wear a dress everyday. 

Not this week.

This week, every morning in her sleepy little voice, the first thing she says is, “I want to match.” 

So, everyday I have searched our closets finding similar shirts, making sure that she looks even more like my mini-me than ever before. 

Since I’m not sure how long this phase of hers will last, I’m thinking we might take advantage of Missouri’s tax-free weekend this weekend and see if we can find some more matching outfits. 

I know there will come a day all too soon where dressing like mommy will be the worst idea ever, so I’ll cherish these memories and moments now while I’m still her hero and the person she most looks up to. 

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Boyfriends, Breakups, and Saying No

Madeline informed me last night that her and her boyfriend broke up. 

Reminder: she’s three. 

I asked her what happened. She said she told him not to kiss her and now he’s not her friend anymore. 

Again, she’s three. 

I told her that she did the right thing by telling him not to kiss her, and that she shouldn’t be kissing boys yet. I also told her I was sad that he wasn’t being her friend anymore. That seemed to satisfy her for now. I hugged her and she went on to play. 

I know that most likely the next break up won’t be so easy to cure with a hug, and that makes my heart ache for my little girl. 

Already at three a boy chose not to be her friend because she said no when he tried to kiss her (something they have already been in trouble for previously, so Madeline knew she wasn’t supposed to do it).

What happens when she is thirteen and it’s more than a kiss?

These are the things that already make my momma heart and mind worry. 

What if next time a boy she really likes threatens to break up with her if doesn’t do more than just kiss him? How do I instill strength in my daughter, beginning even now, so that when she wants to say no, she can say no and stand firm in that decision?

How can I make sure that her heart is not broken by a boy who only wants to see how far she will let him go. These may seem like crazy things to worry about, because well, she’s only three. But I believe that foundation of strength, self-worth, and confidence is being built now. 

She watches our every action. She sees how sweetly her dad treats me. She knows what love looks like. I want her to seek that in her life. I want her to grow up not settling for less than she deserves. I want her to expect the best, because she deserves the best. 

For now our little threenager has seemingly gotten over her first broken heart fairly easily. She was able to say no to the unwanted kisses from the boy who is always trying to kiss and hug her. She is learning that while she likes to give out hugs, she doesn’t want to be kissed, and she is in control of herself, so she gets to make those decisions not the boys. 

I can only hope remembers that she is incharge of her body as she grows in to her teen years and that that beautiful heart of hers doesn’t get too broken along the way. 

But I will be prepared with a shoulder to cry on, some sappy music, chessy movies, and some ice cream to make it all better when it does.

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Garage Sale Goodbye

We’ve been trying to get ready for a garage sale this week (which we apparently planned for the hottest weekend of the year #winning). Part of the massive amount of prep that it takes to get a garage sale ready has included going through Madeline’s baby clothes and toys. 

This has got to be a special kind of torture for someone who is as sentimental as me. 

Every dress, every tiny t-shirt, they all seem to hold a memory. I find it so hard to put a price on a memory. 

I know I realistically can’t keep everything. Right? Can I? 

No. That’s just crazy. Especially considering I probably really do have several photos of her in each special outfit. So it’s not like those memories are going to fade away completely. 

Maybe it’s just because she’s the first baby that I got to actually bring home. Maybe it’s a little bit because of the loss of her brother. Maybe it’s just that she’s a girl, and her clothes were/are so adorable. Maybe it’s that we decided we weren’t having anymore and selling things makes that decision seem real and final. Maybe it’s all if it, but getting rid of her baby things… Closing that chapter of her life, our lives, man this is hard. 

And to think, I just thought we were having a garage sale. 

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We Spoil Her, but She’s Not Spoiled


This face is why my child often gets ice cream before bed or a new Shopkins from Target.

“Please, momma.”

And those eyes and that lip is just too hard to resist. I know we spoil her.

I do.

I know she doesn’t need another Barbie, another Shopkins, another anything, but I want to buy these things for her. It’s my choice as her parent to say yes more often than no.

And yes, she does hear no.

We also know that she is grateful. Every new toy is met with a giant hug and more “thank you”s than we can count. We may spoil her, but don’t ever call her a spoiled brat.

She has a generous, giving spirit. One that we got to witness at the Fourth of July fireworks display last week.

We had set our chairs up next to a mother who was there with her three young children. We noticed they were calling the youngest girl, Maddy. This made our Maddy very excited. She loves to meet other little girls that share her name. She smiled and waved at the girl and said hi.

Later, when as it began to get dark and we got out the glow sticks for Madeline to make bracelets, Madeline decided she wanted to share one with her new friend. Together we walked over and gave the other Maddy a glow bracelet. Madeline was so excited to share with her.

Madeline is always willing to share her toys, snacks, whatever she has, if her friends want to play, she invites them to join in. This is why I don’t worry about spoiling her. She appreciates what she has and loves to share it with others. Her heart is big.

Then there is always that little nagging part of me that wishes I was buying toys and clothes for two, so sometimes I over indulge my guilt and grief and she reaps the benefits.

We currently are in a place where we can say yes to her requests. Thankfully, her requests are usually small. This won’t always be the case. As she grows those wants will too and she will have to hear no more and more. So we say yes now while it’s still exciting for to get a toy from Target’s Dollar Spot or a $3 Shopkins blind bag. Soon enough she’ll be asking for a car and we’ll be a little slower with that yes I’m afraid.

Speaking of spoiling… today is Amazon Prime Day and Melissa and Doug has a special offer for Life with Madeline readers:

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On Her Own

Currently, Madeline is asleep in her own room.  In her own bed.

 

I realize that she is three, and that for most this seems like this should be an obvious statement of facts.  However, this is the first time this has ever happened.  I have mentioned before that we co-sleep with Madeline.

Now that she is three, I know that she really should start sleeping in her own bed.  At least occasionally.  That said, I’m still not sure I’m ready for that.  My anxiety is high.   I’m finding myself staring at the monitor even as I’m typing this.  I’m watching.  I’m resisting the urge to run in and either crawl into bed next her, or just pick her up and bring her back out her with me to cuddle up where I can hold her and constantly reassure myself that she is breathing.

I know that she is fine.

My rationale mind knows this.

It’s just there is this crazy, anxiety-ridden part of my brain that keeps telling me that I need to check that she’s still breathing every 30 seconds.

And I wonder why I’ve been exhausted for the last 4 years.  I basically haven’t slept since I was pregnant the first time around.

She is fine.  I keep staring at the monitor and telling myself this.  The volume is turned all the way up.  I’m just staring now.  I can see the rise and fall of her chest as she breathes.  This reassures me.

She looks so tiny in her big girl bed.

I know I will still go and get her before the night is over.  She won’t stay in there all night.

I’m not ready for that.

Not just yet.


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Portrait of a Dad

To most this is just a photo of a dad holding his newborn daughter, but let me tell you, it is so much more. This is a photo of a dad who less than 14 months earlier had held his first born, his son, for the first and last time all at once. It’s a photo of a dad who has been through a tremendous tragedy and yet been an unwavering rock of support for his wife through the loss, another pregnancy, and now the birth of their new daughter. It’s a photo of a dad who is already so in love with and filled with wonder and amazement at this tiny little girl in his arms. It’s a photo of a dad who has just felt his broken heart heal a little bit while looking into his daughter’s big beautiful eyes. Today, that little girl is 3 years old and says daddy is her best friend. I’m pretty sure that feeling is mutual.  There is a reason this is forever my favorite photo of you two.


Patrick,

I’m not sure I can put into words how grateful I am to have you not just as my husband, but as the father of my children (but you know me, I will try). I remember the day we got married. I thought I loved you such an incredible amount then, but then that day I saw you holding Madeline, our sweet, beautiful, daughter in your arms for the first time it was like falling in love with you all over again. Watching you become a dad has been the most incredible thing to witness. From your willingness to change cloth diapers (thank goodness we are past that!), to watching you patiently let our little Princess try to “make you pretty” with her tiaras and beads. You have become such an amazing dad, and Madeline and I simply adore you. The days where Madeline has gone into full threenager status and is driving me crazy, you know how to talk us both down off of the ledge. We love our family adventures with you, our movie nights, our game nights, and our just be silly nights. You make everyday and everything a little more fun. I am convinced you are the world’s greatest husband, and Madeline knows you are the world’s greatest dad! We just know we are lucky to have the best! We love you bunches!!!

Happy Father’s Day from your two favorite girls!

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