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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i'll eat you up, i love you so: the first day of pre-k

Last night you were nervous. You asked if Barack Obama got nervous before his first day of school and your eyes grew wide in disbelief that someone so magnificent could get nervous, too. I realized then that you will never understand the depth of my pride, respect or admiration for you. To me, you are that great and that magnificent.

There is something so absolutely unnatural in a mother releasing the grasp of her child to let them grow. Something unnatural in the naturalness that is the growing up process, as nonsensical as that seems. "It's just preschool," people urge me. "You'll see, you'll be loving it," they assure me. But, my sweet boy, when I chose to have you and raise you and be your mommy, I chose that forever. I chose to soak in every minute of you even the long, overtired days where neither one of us had much to contribute to the day. And I chose all of it knowing that one day the ebbs and flow of the tide would whisk you away into an independent life completely untied from my own. So, yes, it is just preschool. But it is the end of something and also the start of something new, and you sort of half one foot in the queue of school and the other in the river of childhood. Next year, I will hear a lot of people telling me that it's just Kindergarten but it will be so much more than that: it will be both feet on the conveyor belt that will take you into independence and adulthood.

You picked out your shoes this year. We got your feet fitted at Vans and the sales associate brought out "these regular ones your mom picked out or these cool glow in the dark snake skeleton ones" and I winced and laughed because, well, I knew we would be leaving with the glow in the dark snake skeleton shoes. I love them in all of their ridiculousness.

And then this morning, sleepily over breakfast, you asked me what to do if someone teases you. "I guess sometimes kids don't have mommies like you who teach them how to be kind and give them hugs," you rationalized as you bit into your peanut butter sandwich. I am stuck in this place of loving our conversations and your realizations and the beautiful, abstract, intricate view you have of the world and then seeing you as that diaper-clad toddler clapping your palms together with joy when you matched the corresponding colors together in our tot school classroom.

Baby, baby it's a wild world.

I want you to know that I find so much solace in your hugs and that for a brief moment, the wrongs of the world are righted when I get to look into your bright, oceanic eyes. I want you to know that when you are stubborn and we butt heads I am still proud of your strength. I want you to know that there is softness in your smile and that I refuse to let your anxieties deter you from a lifetime of joy because that's how I spent far, far too much of my life. Until there was you.

I want you to know that I will always be on your side and that there is nothing -- literally nothing -- you can't talk to me about because I will always be the support structure holding your messy feelings together and giving them validation. I want you to know that you are peace and love and pride and joy; that you are every abreaction I ever had as a teenager standing before me with your hard part and velcro Vans. "Tell me how much you love me," you asked as we pulled into your preschool parking lot. "Like the stars above," I told you. And then a few moments later inside your classroom you looked up at me and said "you can go now, mommy."

And this is when I realized there will never be words for the level of pride and love and joy and sadness that are balled up in my heart at this moment. I can't expect you to change the world if I don't let you step out into it. I don't have to tell you to be the good, my baby, because you already are.

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of winning and losing

Dear Ethan and Carmen,

My lovebugs, I am constantly scolded that the world is not going to cater to our everyone gets a trophy familial mindset. I understand that. Perhaps the one perk to early puberty were all of the years I got to fake menstrual cramps to avoid gym class or field day or any activity that required showcasing my athletic (in)ability against that of girls who were taught to be winners. For as long as your father and I can raise you and guide you and protect you from the ills of a society that we disagree with often, we will let everyone get a trophy for trying. Trying takes courage, which I learned the hard way.

But more than anything, babies, please believe that winning doesn't matter. You don't have to win. You don't have to be top of your class. You don't need to make your bodies weak and sick and dull from all-night study sessions. You don't have to come in first place or even tenth place. You don't need to win. You don't need to be the best. You don't need to be popular. You don't need to strive to be better, stronger, faster. None of it. Take it all up in your mind and toss it far, far away.

Be true to your heart. Take classes that you enjoy because you enjoy them. Enroll in enrichment activities that make your body and mind fulfilled, even if you're the only one in the class who can't master that yoga move or grasp that artistic skill. Enjoy it all. Enjoy everything you do. Soak up the pleasures of being young, of being children, of being teenagers, of being young adults put into this world to learn and grow and be and do. Listen to music you enjoy, even if everyone thinks it's weird. Let the sunlight warm your skin and the fresh air flow through your lungs because you, children, are allowed to not be burdened by expectations to perform on tests or assessments.

You are just children and I am surrounded so often by mothers craving more for their children: more homework. More testing. More assessments. More grades. More structure. More. More. More. And slowly I shirk away with whispers of less, less, less. Less of the things that don't matter. More living. More loving. More being the incredible people that you are. If an assessment test decides you are average, know two things: there is no shame in being average and also you are the farthest thing from average. You cannot be defined by a performance on a test or by your ability to memorize mathematical equations that you will never see in your adult life. You are defined by your kindness, by your warmth, by your gentleness, by the way you exist in the world around you. You will hear from many that those things don't matter, but listen closely, lovebugs: nothing matters more.

It is a cutthroat world. You will often be picked up and placed on a hypothetical race track and expected to run, sprint, leap; expected to out perform your peers and be the best. Be the fastest. Be the strongest. Be the smartest. Be the one who pole vaults their way onto an accelerated education and takes the fast track to Ivy League colleges.

But listen to me, babies: when you stay true to yourself, you've already won.

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I am listening to my husband and Ethan bake cookies in the kitchen. After an entire day of boycotting naps, Carmen fell asleep at 7:30 and I'm trying (but not too hard) to not be lulled to sleep myself listening to her white noise machine over the video monitor. It's been a long day. We are in the throws of a new and exciting (I'll keep telling myself that) season of life and I am handling the change poorly (that's code for eating lots of chocolate) and it's all just very overwhelming. Four out of five days of summer camp as a prequel to school down and it's apparent I'm really bad at getting my kid dropped off someplace on time. I guess this is the thing that Experienced Moms joke about, car lines and drop offs and school events that I've never been able to join in any conversations about because my kids were little and school was so far in the future. Well, here I am. This is my stop. (Please pass the chocolate.)

Tonight the cloth diaper laundry will wait and I'll leave the LaCroix cans littered all over the tables because it must be at least midnight, only it's not even nine. I'm listening to my husband and Ethan bake cookies in the kitchen and Ethan is so hopped up on sugar and adrenaline and whatever-it-is that makes five year olds run at the speed of light constantly, and my husband is so obviously exhausted but acting so engaged in measuring organic cane sugar. It's hard not to smile through the exhaustion as Ethan is chattering about wanting a spot of tea and my husband has no idea what he's talking about and in nine minutes the cookies will be done and everyone is just so overdue for bedtime. I'm equal parts exhausted and also pumped and ready to take on the future that is staring me in the face. It's where exhaustion meets happiness and even though your eyes are burning, with the last bits of energy you're able to muster, your mouth forms a smile.

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