carmen fable: seven months

Today, Carmen is seven months old!

So far, Carmen has:
- No teeth!
- Been out of Florida (Atlanta, Georgia)
- Attended her first wedding

She is currently wearing 3-6 month clothing and has finally started to outgrow the 0-3 month clothing that I thought she would be in forever. She's sitting, albeit still a little wobbly, and has begun rocking on all fours. She is a plank master and has completely figured out army crawling and rolling across rooms. Carmen is determined to be on the move and can't stand being still or sitting in one place for too long.

So far, Carmen has eaten:
- Butternut squash
- Carrots
- Green beans
- Peas
- Pears
- Apples
- Broccoli
- Spinach
- Lentils

She takes two long naps per day and sleeps for 11-12 hours per night. She currently eats 6 ounces of formula per feeding -- but I think that's going to be increasing soon. Carmen's absolute favorite person in the world is her big brother. She lights up whenever he walks into the room! (Ethan is also 99% sure that she says "bruh bruh.")

What an amazing seven months it's been!

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when the shoe doesn't fit

Yesterday, I made a difficult decision: I pulled Ethan out of Pre-K. It was one of those difficult decisions that I had to make above Ethan and his input, which is so out of the realm of how I parent that I swear it physically ached. From his first day of school onward, I felt a feeling of dread and worry in my stomach that I tried to convince myself was normal to feel as an attached parent who had never been away from their child. While Ethan would come home having enjoyed the school experience -- he loves being part of a class -- there were concerns that I felt were legitimate and not just because it can be argued that I'm a helicopter parent. Eventually, he began to ask us questions that made it apparent his masculinity was being challenged (at age five, mind you) and these little insecurities began to fester in a way that led me to question if he was truly happy at school. He loved the idea of school, and he loved the friend he had made, and he loved the teacher and following directions and creating projects that he got to take home -- but he didn't love the chaos. Or the yelling. Or the boys who would begin simulating wrestling moves during math center while the teacher struggled to regain control of the environment. He didn't like the way some of the children would physically hit the others while the poor teacher struggled to finish reading a story. I listened intently to the input of friends that these situations are hard to avoid at this age and I looked at my friend's children's preschool photos on social media while comparing how vastly different they seemed from Ethan's experience. Something didn't sit right, however, and as I dropped him off on that last day and watched two little boys scream in his face while chaos ensued and the teachers struggled to understand why a child who wasn't in that class was dropped off there in that class, I walked to my car and sobbed. I buckled Carmen into her seat and drove us over to a small Montessori school that I had heard wonderful things about. As I sat and observed the classroom, I knew this was a better environment for Ethan.

I then went back to his school and told them it was his last day. This was difficult for me. The teacher -- oh, how my heart goes out to her -- helped me collect Ethan's art from around the classroom and place it in his backpack. I watched as he played on the rug with the friend he made and felt the lump rise in my throat as he innocently smiled at me, not knowing it was to be his last day. When I told him, there were tears. He didn't want to leave school and his initial assumption was that he had done something wrong to cause his removal. We toured his new school and I feel like that helped -- except for the fact that his new school won't have availability until January.

I am wearing cinderblocks made of guilt tied to my ankles while knowing that it was the right choice to make. Sometimes the right choices are the hardest to make. Sometimes they hurt. At nine o'clock at night, Ethan and I ate cold pizza in bed and hugged and talked about how some shoes fit better than others, even if we really like the way the shoes that are too small look.

This morning he woke up as a homeschooler again, and while most of the sadness subsided, there is still a little bit of nostalgia lingering. He misses his teacher and having assignments to complete at home to share with her. He misses being part of a class. This morning, we sank into our homeschool lessons while Carmen napped and everything fit as it used to. He was overjoyed to have his homeschool activities resume -- but the fit was still a little snug. He will be outgrowing it all as he once did already, waiting to spread his wings and try on a school that will hopefully be a better fit.

This morning, I told the barista at Starbucks that I don't know what I'm doing, and she assured me most moms don't. We are led by our need to always follow the best interest of our child. That I can do, even if it's not what makes sense to other parents of other children who aren't my own. This is our time to enjoy our family and homeschool and traveling and the holidays and then give a new school another try to be the place where the pieces fit better than they did the first time.

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the song and the story

Your first name means song and by definition your middle name is a short story. Story, the word itself, was one of my name contenders but Fable fit you better. I knew that before I knew you, back when there was only hope for you. You are here now and that hope has stuck, too. You are the song and the story that have changed our lives so very much. There is renewal in hearing your brother exclaim "good morning, sis" over your video monitor and there is restoration in the smile you flash in return. You are a soft, poetic soul and simultaneously a powerhouse of strength and determination. I'm frequently stopped so that passerby can admire your beauty and charm, and then comment on how they thought you were much younger than you are. They see tiny but me? I know better. I see fierceness and a spirit so big that you are capable of so much more than you will ever know.

Two days a week, your brother goes to school. This is an adjustment for me, as I learn to begin two days a week without posing the question "Ethan, what would you like to do today?" It is also an adjustment for me in getting to know you in the way that I got to know your brother during his infancy. Those tired mornings sitting on a rug, singing and holding and reading and playing peek-a-boo. Trying to get to know your quirks and likes and favorite songs as I did with your brother half a decade ago. And at nap time, you grow tired and nestle your head in the crook of my arm and we rock slowly on your bedroom rug until you are asleep. And with each gentle breath you take, you are breathing life back into my own lungs.

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beachfront baby water carriers: wrap review

Living in South Florida, we're in the water a lot and not just in the summers, either. There's water everywhere down here and we swim and go to the beach year 'round. Even our zoos and playgrounds typically have splash pads for the kids to cool off from the ridiculous Florida heat. Oh, the heat. It's been especially brutal this year which has been the hardest adjustment in bringing home a new baby. I've been torn between trying to shield Carmen from the record-breaking temps and trying to keep Ethan's outdoor play schedule as normal as possible despite the huge changes at home. Our regular baby wraps and carriers are great for indoors but got to be a little hot for those outdoor ventures. After just a half hour at the playground, both Carmen and I would be roasting whenever I wore her. When I read about Beachfront Baby Wraps, I was immediately smitten by the concept.

The Beachfront Baby Wrap is made from a lightweight, silky, mesh material not unlike a swimsuit. It is breathable and doesn't feel heavy in the water or when wet. While it's perfect for the pool, the Floridian in me feels compelled to point out that this is the perfect wrap for keeping baby close at water parks, theme parks, the playground, the zoo -- anything that brings you outdoors. Hello, breathability. This was the first thing I threw in our suitcase for our upcoming Legoland trip! (The wrap does not provide sun protection, so be sure to always apply sunscreen and take proper measures!)

Our wrap was also the perfect way to introduce Carmen to the water and get her comfortable to being in the pool. Water safety is so important here in Florida especially, and I wanted to make sure she had some level of comfort in the water before beginning her swim lessons in just a couple of weeks.

The best part of the wrap, for me, was the convenience of being able to keep Carmen close while also being able to be attentive to Ethan. He loves practicing the skills he learns in swim class and having a baby in my arms made it hard to devote enough attention to him. Being able to keep Carmen close and safe in our Beachfront Baby wrap freed up my hands enough to make sure I was able to give Ethan the attention he deserved.

Being able to wear Carmen in the water as well definitely gave us some more freedom and allowed us to return to our regularly scheduled water activities (did I mention we swim a lot?) quicker than I imagined. It made taking two children in the pool a lot less daunting!

As I mentioned above, the material is a lightweight, athletic mesh. It dries quickly and doesn't weigh you down in the water or out of the water. It dries quickly and is comfortable to keep on which means you don't have to constantly re-wrap.

I also love how this wrap is perfect for the shower. Finding time to squeeze in a shower is one of the hardest things for me as a mom (please, tell me I'm not the only one) and this wrap definitely makes it easier. I can just wrap Carmen and take her with me to get cleaned off after a long day without having to worry about putting her down or waiting for her to be asleep at night.

The Beachfront Baby Wraps come in different sizes, from petite to XL. I am wearing an XL wrap and it fits great, with just the right amount of stretch for added comfortability (but not too stretchy to lack in support). If wrapping isn't your thing, they also make beautiful ring slings as well! Visit Beachfront Baby Wraps online for more information, including sizing and color options.

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carmen fable: six months

Our incredible, amazing Carmen is six months old today! Half a year old, already, somehow.

Carmen had her six month check-up at her doctor on Thursday afternoon. She weighs 13.4 pounds (9th percentile) and is also in the 9th percentile for height. (We read through Ethan's six month statistics today -- he was in the 75th for height and the 80th for weight. One on each end of the chart, I suppose.) Carmen is in mostly 0-3 month clothing but I can get her to pull off some 3-6 month clothing if it runs on the smaller size and with the help of her cloth diapers.

Carmen loves being worn in the Boba carrier. She wears her Magic Sleepsuit for both naps and at nighttime and is sleeping 11 hour stretches at night. We completely transitioned her from bassinet to crib over the last couple of weeks and she is loving having more room to wriggle around and sleep comfortably. This little one is a mover! She can roll front to back as well as back to front, and she can scoot on her belly across an entire room.

Perhaps her most exciting six month milestone is that she tried her first solid foods!

Ethan has been looking forward to making his sister food since the moment she was born. Ethan's first food was green beans and we purchased the same organic, local green beans that Ethan had for his first solid foods (oh, my heart). He had a blast steaming and pureeing them, but he had the most fun giving her the first taste.

The first day didn't go so well, but now she's enjoying her green beans a little bit more. (Next up: peas!)

Carmen shockingly still has no teeth! Ethan had two by this age and she definitely began teething earlier than he did. I'm guessing teeth will be coming sooner rather than later!

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