the most wild thing of all

Tee by The Blue Envelope

The past few weeks have been pretty difficult for our family. We've had a lot of unexpected expenses and issues pop up, some of which have felt awfully hard to tackle. I think I spent most of yesterday crying as we tried to recoup after one of our cat's emergency vet visits and her new diabetes diagnosis. Life, in turn, has been super hectic and most of our days have been filled with plans and appointments (and car accidents) and chaos. I'm fairly certain Ethan has been feeling the secondhand stress as much as I try to shield him from it all, because we've had some rough days lately. (Today has been no exception.) You know the kind of days. The ones that leave you emotionally zapped and exhausted and in tears if only you had energy enough to cry. The ones that drain you completely. The past few days, I've felt like it's impossible to even sleep because the exhaustion aches in my bones and the apprehension towards the next day causes anxiety. Yesterday I stayed up until midnight mopping my floors and, please believe, I'd rather give myself a lobotomy with a plastic spoon than spend whatever free time I do have cleaning, but stress makes you do weird things. Staying busy is as much a coping mechanism as I have.

The older Ethan gets, the more I've wrestled with how much of his everyday life is fair to share on the blog. The days of potty training and temper tantrums and cutesy infant stories that make people giggle and cringe and say "I've been there" no longer seem as appropriate the older he gets, the more little boy he gets, the more he sheds the toddler phase as he goes and grows. This little dude, he keeps me on my toes. In contrast to the weird limbo life has us in right now, that's sort of refreshing.

I've been busy planning our year of homeschool preschool and getting the lesson plans in order. My plan is to start when the public schools nearby go back to school but taking the summer off from tot school has only made us miss our classroom so much. Ethan has been begging to help me get our space situated for tot school to begin again. We're both eager. We're both ready...and something tells me we'll get started a lot sooner than anticipated. For now, forgive me if this little space gets a little quiet. Summertime and all it's accompanying chaos beckons for now.

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why i talk about stillbirth

I talk about stillbirth not because I'm stuck in some sort of fog where life is passing me by and I'm forgetting to live. I talk about stillbirth not because I want to make someone uncomfortable, though I'm slowly realizing that is inevitable. I talk about stillbirth not because I enjoy feeling like Ally Sheedy in The Breakfast Club which is basically how others treat you if you dare mention your dead child in conversation. I talk about stillbirth not because I want to be the source of everyone's pity, the one everyone looks at with sad eyes and the one whose Facebook statuses are met with :( emojis. I talk about stillbirth not because I enjoy being the one who is constantly told "you made me cry" whenever I mention my child who passed. I talk about stillbirth not because I enjoy being told to "appreciate the child I have," which is basically the worst insult someone could give me (no, really, cut off my arm next time, it would hurt a lot less).

I talk about stillbirth because someone has to. I talk about stillbirth because it happens and someone has to train the masses to deal with the unthinkable. I talk about it so that one day people will realize that you're not running for the razors simply because you remembered a pregnancy craving or the way childbirth felt. I talk about stillbirth because one day, someone will know someone who loses a baby and they'll be able to react in a way that leaves a grieving parent feeling comforted rather than ostracized. I talk about stillbirth because my pregnancy happened, Wylie's birth happened and there's no shame in either of those things. I talk about stillbirth because there are still women who will e-mail me and say "I lost my child at birth and was too shameful to hold her or name her or remember her even on her birthday" and that's not okay.

I talk about stillbirth because it is an abnormal, wrongful tragedy that happens in a modern day society more than anyone likes to or wants to believe it does and, like all things that are sad and tragic, it has a layer of shame across the top. I talk about stillbirth because I want to peel the layer off. I talk about stillbirth because I want people to know that while it is devastatingly sad that I have a daughter I will never be able to raise or see again, I am so happy to be her mother (and, no, I don't wish your baby was my own). I talk about stillbirth because I want people to know that "you make me appreciate having healthy children" isn't a nice thing to say, either. Piggybacking off of someone's tragedy isn't helpful and I talk about stillbirth so that people know that mentioning Wylie without wide, panicked eyes or a prefaced statement about their own sadness and discomfort feels like a really warm hug.

I talk about stillbirth because I want people to understand that I can love both of my children even if one is dead and I want them to realize that it doesn't change how I parent. I talk about stillbirth so people can see how someone can live their life for their children, the one who is here and the one who isn't. I don't want to toot my own horn, but I'm going to do it because my kids have one pretty awesome mom, if I don't say so myself.

I talk about stillbirth because nothing in life should carry such a stigma, especially not something that no one is at fault for. I talk about stillbirth because we, as a society, have a long way to go until we get it right and, well, if Wylie's legacy can change the world in that way, I'm gladly along for the ride.

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my oldest

Tonight my husband and I were at a party for his dad's birthday. We were surrounded by people who I'd never met before and, for the most part, people who my husband himself had never met before, either. Ethan and another little boy were splashing in the pool and, as little kids tend to do, garnering a lot of attention. "Is he your only one?" The question was fired at me first and I felt my stomach tense up in the way it does moments before you vomit. You know the feeling. When your flesh feels clammy and your stomach is squeezing itself together ready to expel everything. "Well. I mean. Sort of. I guess. Yes." It was the yes that did me in. A wave of guilt flood over my body. I felt lightheaded in that moment, fighting back tears as I remembered my pregnancy with Wylie and her silent birth. I remembered holding her in my arms, staring down at her with sadness and pride as I memorized all of her features. A year and change later, here I was at a birthday party for my children's grandfather saying that Ethan was my only child. The question came again, twice within five minutes, both times directed towards my husband who stumbled for an answer as uncomfortably as I did. We discussed it on the way home, the guilt, the sadness. I thought about how if only things were different, we would have a one year old splashing on the step alongside her brother. Instead, here we were, trying to validate our daughter's brief life.

I never want people to walk on eggshells around me. Sometimes it gets said without thinking that Ethan is an only child because his behavior is that of a child who doesn't have siblings to share with, who is used to being the center of attention. It's true that Ethan is the only child living in our home. It's true that he doesn't have to share toys with a sibling, true that he's used to our entire schedule being dictated by his. But an only child? He isn't. I carried his sister in my body and delivered her tiny body as I did his. Her stillbirth certificate remains tucked in the same safe that houses Ethan's birth certificate. Ethan may be the only child living in our home, but he isn't our only child.

If you're lucky after loss (I know, those two words hardly seem to go together), you'll find yourself a support group where they really get you. I found that. And as my husband made small talk and I played Thomas trains with Ethan in the foyer of a crowded house, I was able to vent my heartbreak and guilt to people who face that question every day, too: "is this your only one?"

Tonight, with the help of those who have walked this same road, I made myself a mental cue card with my answer:

"He's my oldest."

It's the truth, after all. Ethan is still a big brother. He's the oldest, but not the only.

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zipzicles zip-top ice pops review and giveaway

We love popsicles around here. What I don't love are the yucky colorants, sugar and syrups found in the popsicles you buy at the grocery store. Making our own popsicles has been a perfect way to keep treats healthy and, let's be real, there's little better than a cold popsicle treat after a crazy day of play out in the Florida sun. At this point, we've tried so many different popsicle molds and I come to the same consensus: they're more hassle than they're worth. I lose the sticks, the molds take up way too much room in my already too small freezer, I never remember to wash them out and you can't exactly pack up your popsicle molds to take to the beach or the park. When I discovered Zipzicles, they seemed like the perfect solution!

Zipzicles are made from BPA-free, freezer grade plastic and feature a durable zip top design that allows kids to easily push up the ice pop from the bottom. A package of 18 pouches is only $3.99, making Zipzicles pretty easy on the wallet, too. Zipzicles are perfect for big batch popsicle making. I spent twenty minutes one afternoon making a freezer full of Zipzicle ice pops to have on hand. I also love how compact they are for freezer storage -- no clunky molds to move around and find a vacant space for.

Of course, the best part is being able to choose exactly what ingredients go into your homemade popsicles.

Of course, the fun isn't limited to just the kiddos, either. I'm a self-proclaimed coffee addict and having my favorite ice coffee frozen into ice pops was the perfect save for long afternoons when I needed a pick me up. Zipzicles are fantastic for parties and their website offers a huge array of recipes -- including some for adults who like to drink things a little stronger than coffee.

I especially love the portability. I've been able to bring along stacks of Zipzicles on play dates, to the pool, to the park just by placing them in an insulated lunchbag with some ice packs.

We've had some great afternoons sharing our Zipzicles with friends, even in the Florida sunshine. The portability may tie "no sticks to lose" as my favorite part of Zipzicles!

Last week, Ethan came down with a yucky virus -- fever, vomiting, the whole nine yards. I quickly threw together some Zipzicles to keep him hydrated.

Zipzicles are a total game changer! A package of Zipzicle ice pop bags are definitely a must-have to keep around the house if you have little ones.

TO BUY: To buy some Zipzicle bags and other accessories (their neoprene ice pop holders are perfect for keeping little hands from getting too chilly!), visit their online store.

TO WIN: The awesome folks at Zipzicles have offered one of my readers the chance to win a package of Zipzicle ice pop bags for themselves! We promise, you're going to love them!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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letting them be little

We keep a growth chart on Ethan's bedroom wall. Truthfully, I wish we started earlier but I figure I can always manually add in the heights based on the doctor records that I've kept over the years. Once a month, I take a Sharpie and add a little line (plus the date) so he can see how much he's grown. The leap from May to July has been substantial, which I have to say I've noticed just observing him in every day life. Suddenly his shorts have all become short-shorts and his shirts expose his belly and we've officially traded in the 5's for the 6's -- and even some 7's -- when it feels like I just adjusted to the 4/5's and having to shop in the big boys department in general. Ethan's no stranger to hearing how big he is, something that happens when you're twice the size of the other kids your age (and have a father who is 6'4") but lately he's had many questions about his height. There have been a couple of times when he's asked if he can stay a kid and stop getting bigger, or that he didn't want to grow up just yet.

Four has already been so different than three in many ways. There has been physical growth and emotional maturation as well. And there has also been this push from society to thrust him into adulthood now that he is four.

"Oh, he's adorable. How old is he?"
"He just turned 4."
"Oh, time for school! Is he ready for Kindergarten?"

I watched my child shyly follow around a six year old girl on a playground as a camp counselor asked me this. Too shy to ask her name, he pretended to fall down instead in hopes she would help him up. (She did.) As he ran around the playground with a new friend and no agenda to adhere to, no schedule to follow, no rules to worry about breaking, I failed to see how the answer wasn't so completely obvious. No, he wasn't ready for Kindergarten. He's a child. He's four years old.

I remind Ethan of this when he expresses his concerns about growing up and getting taller. "Mommy, am I still a kid? Am I still a kid even if I'm taller?"

This is when I tell him that his childhood is just beginning and that I'll never let anyone take it away from him. This is when the heat stops bothering me and I let these hot, sticky afternoons be just what they are: freedom, magic. Childhood.

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