10.29.2014

ethan's 2014 halloween cards

I make Ethan little Halloween cards each year to hand out throughout the day. (Fine. I'm that mom that makes my kid something to hand out on every holiday, I own it.) They were inspired by these party invitations I saw on Pinterest. (Is this a safe place to admit that I am drowning in Mom Guilt for not having planned a Halloween party for Ethan and his pals this year?)

Anyway, first I cut out these bat shapes from black construction paper. I didn't use a template -- I just sort of winged it and did the trial and error thing until I found the perfect size.

You also get to cut out a zillion little heads and some orange bellies which you then get to assemble.

Then you get to glue on some chocolates (and resist the urge to eat them as you go!).

And there you have it!

Little bats!

Ethan is so super excited to hand these out on Halloween. I had to hide them from him in the meantime!

10.28.2014

farm visit

We went on a quick trip up to Central Florida this past weekend for a baby shower. Before our drive home, we made a pit stop at this little farm that we've been visiting every year at around this time. Visiting a farm is one of those things you have to do when you're from the suburbs of South Florida and so it's one of those things we seek out whenever we make the trek up north a few hours. We were limited on time this trip so I promised Ethan we could visit again around Thanksgiving time. I imagine then the weather will be chilly and right now I long for that, some official promise that summer is over.

A few pictures from our visit:

10.27.2014

absence and apologies

I'm resisting the urge to begin this post with some "hey, remember when I had a blog?" melodrama. But. Seriously. I miss sitting down to write. Life has been a whirlwind lately and I'm doing my best to not stress out when I'm behind on the posts that I've been meaning to get done.

We went out of town this weekend for our good friends baby shower! They are expecting their first child, a little boy, very soon and I'm ridiculously excited for them. Can I brag here about how I'm the one who fixed them up years ago? Because I totally am and I didn't brag nearly enough about it at their wedding. (Okay. I sort of did.)

Anyway, the getaway was nice but also sort of stressful. Ethan is still in the beginning stages of potty training and so the three hour each way road trip (which was more like six hours coming home thanks to some ungodly traffic on the Turnpike) didn't really work in our favor. We had our first carseat pee incident which really opened the floodgates. Literally. After potty training on his own with no accidents for a couple of weeks and waking up dry, Ethan has decided he forgot how to use the potty at all and I have spent the entire day cleaning up urine. I mean, he spent today climbing off the potty and peeing on the floor instead, insisting he doesn't get how the whole process works. Now in between washing loads of the tiniest little boxers anyone did see and sopping up urine off the tile, I'm supposed to figure out how to remedy this potty situation. With it being Halloween week and Ethan super stoked about our event calendar, it feels like punishment to make him stay home completely and miss out on things he's looking forward to, so I'm trying to trim back our social calendar as much as I can without taking things away. I also realized at bedtime that if I celebrate each individual pee the way I did when he was first learning, he is more inclined to actually go in the potty. I'm sure if I psychoanalyze this enough during my late night laundry party, I'll figure something out. (Insert snide remark about how glamorous parenting is.)

Because life isn't quite crazy enough, I decided signing up for something called Hell Week at Orange Theory seemed like a great idea. Today was the first day. It's going to be a long week.

Anyway, I'm sorry for my unintentional and deeply unwanted leave of blogging absence. I have a few posts to finish as soon as I can find both the time and the energy. (Story of a mom's life, right?)

10.22.2014

stackable handwritten name rings by centime gifts + 20% off code for your order

I received an e-mail from Centime about their stackable handwritten name rings and was instantly intrigued and excited. Upon hearing of our loss, Centime graciously offered me the opportunity to create custom stackable name rings with both Ethan and Wylie's names. What made these products so unique is that the names weren't written in just any font, but instead my handwriting! I had never seen anything like this before and eagerly waited for the mail each day to see how these rings turned out.

The packaging the rings came in was beautiful and once I carefully opened the little gift box, I couldn't contain how touched I was to see the rings themselves. I hurriedly sent iPhone photos of the rings to my friends and even drove over to my mom's to show her. As a loss mom, I'm always looking for ways to memorialize Wylie, especially ways that include her in our family to the outside world as well as myself. These rings were such a perfect way to do that.

The rings themselves are dainty, elegant and light on my fingers while still super durable and tough. They're made of sterling silver and have already undergone some rough treatment (you know, "day in the life of a mom" stuff) while still remaining shiny and new as ever. To be honest, I'm not a jewelry fan and wearing my wedding rings took some getting used to. What I love about these stackable name rings is how light they are so that you honestly don't even feel them there. The bands are thin and comfortable, which is a huge plus. Because of the careful, thoughtful construction of the bands, the wearer is able to add even more rings to be stacked on in the future if they wish.

The process itself was simple and ordering with Centime was a breeze. I sent them over a scan of my children's names in my writing (although a photo of the writing would work, too):

And there they were! Aren't they beautiful?! I just can't get past what a unique and special gift these rings are and what a nice token they are to have.


My husband, the ring model.

I also love how affordable these rings are. At just $29 each, they make practical and special gift options. If rings aren't your thing, Centime also offers custom handwritten bracelets ($35) and necklaces ($35). These are such a special gift for mothers, grandmothers or that person you're always trying to find a special gift for.

Centime offers more than these handwritten gifts, too. Be sure to visit their website to browse their full assortment of custom jewelry, engraved gifts, bangles and charms. There is a lot to choose from! All of Centime's products are made from quality sterling silver and are made to uphold all of life's chaos (spoken like a true toddler mom, right?).

SAVE 20%! Now through November 15th, save 20% off your full order with promo code ROOTS20OFF. This is a great opportunity to save on some pretty special holiday gifts for someone you love!

For more special updates and offers, stay connected with Centime on Facebook. Happy shopping!

10.21.2014

for the first time let's just allow ourselves to be whatever it is we are, and that will be better, okay? i think that will be better.

This blog is all tumbleweeds and crickets, or so it feels to me. It's not that I'm void of ideas or topics that I want to spill my guts about, it's just that I'm sort of zapped for time. I've spent a lot of time with my thoughts lately and also a lot of time living. Ethan and I have gone from dangling our toes in the water to submerging ourselves back into life again. Ethan is at that age where he truly values playing with other children his age and I am trying to step around everything else to give him the opportunity to play and be a child again. He has been making new friends and playing with old friends and talking about his friends up until the moment he goes to sleep at night and I swear this little boy of mine goes to sleep smiling. I am slowly getting my act together, a little bit. I am grateful for the friends who have been so patient with me -- so kind and understanding -- as I tried to navigate this not-new-but-different life of ours. We've been filling up our calendar with playdates and events and I've been inviting people to our house again. Ethan has been so excited. He has been so patient with me and sometimes I'm amazed that he's only three years old because what I wouldn't do for a sliver of his wisdom and compassion.

Last Friday, my husband managed to get the day off of work so we could take Ethan to Boo At The Zoo. We have somehow created this tradition in which Ethan dresses up like a zoo animal each year and it is one that he takes very, very seriously. This year he opted to be a tiger. I made stripes out of duct tape and felt and hot glue and shoved him into a pair of $2 girls leggings I found on eBay but, my gosh, he was stoked to be a tiger. "Mommy," he whispered as zoo employees asked if he wanted a piece of candy, "I think they think I'm a real tiger."

We go to the zoo so much that Ethan can navigate it likely with his eyes closed, but he likes to use the paper maps and boss us around and act like he's some great explorer who has never been to the zoo before.

His map always takes him to Mardi, the white alligator. Ethan is beyond obsessed with Mardi and it's laughable because Mardi is the only animal who, well, never moves or does much of anything but Ethan sure thinks he's incredible. Which isn't to say Ethan wasn't a little frustrated that Mardi refused to don a costume for Boo At The Zoo, but I think he forgave him. "Oh, maybe Mardi dreams of me when he goes to sleep. He thinks I'm a nice friend. Maybe I'm his favorite friend."

So, Boo At The Zoo. Last year, Ethan was a raccoon. "Remember when Ethan was a raccoon?" I asked my husband. "I don't think he's grown much since then. Maybe a little. I don't really see such a difference, looking back."

And then I compared the photos.

10.20.2014

in defense of mess (or the surrender of caring)

Five hours.

That's how long it took me to hang some (not all, but most) of our laundry. The clothes that were clean, anyway. Which, you know, is less than 15% of our total clothing. And take out the bathroom trash. And sweep the living room floor.

Which proved to be completely pointless because it took Ethan one hour to warrant the need for a re-sweep.

While he was occupied on the potty (anyone else find they use words like "potty" when talking among other adults? Nothing to see here, I just hang out with a toddler all day!), I managed to even scrub the rest of the bathroom.

But, anyway, five hours. Because every third sweep was met with a "mommy, I'm hungry" or "don't worry, I'll scale the 'fridge and grab the tomatoes myself -- I mean dump an entire carton of tomatoes all over the floor and then freak out about it!" And every third shirt I hung up was met with a "mommy, I need to pee pee and I can't get my undies off!" from the other room. Or, my favorite, the always counter productive "oh boy, the paint just spilled on the floor, mommy! Wipe it!"

So basically five hours in to what I called a "cleaning day" in a text message to my husband earlier, I stood in horror staring at a living room filled with toys and broccoli florets and crayons. What in the hell did I spend the last five hours doing?

I'm not a neat freak. Not in the least. I like mess. I like chaos. I don't even mind the piles of glitter all over my dining room table or the toothpaste Ethan squirted on the bathroom wall two weeks ago that is still there. But eventually even I go a little crazy when I can't find any socks to wear or step in cat puke so I come up with these crazy ideas like devoting Mondays to grocery shopping and then tidying up the house which I've actually been doing rather diligently except for the fact that after five hours, it looks like I've done nothing but sit on the couch eating bonbons and painting my toes. That last part thrown in there because I spent a good fifteen minutes trying to scrub up nail polish from my tile and I'm not even entirely sure I remember the last time I painted my nails so there's that.

My husband came home from work and had a good ten minutes to inhale his cold dinner before it was time to begin Ethan's bedtime routine and the minute they closed that bedroom door behind them, I pulled out the mop bucket and mopped my floors like I promised myself I would do every Monday. (For what it's worth hot water, vinegar, a squirt of dish soap and wild orange essential oils is where it's at for tile floors!) So I mopped and utilized all of my arm strength to scrub up mystery stains and tempera paint and supposedly washable marker (lies!) and then stood back to admire my living room.

Okay. Forgetting the piles of pillow cases and towels that never made their way into the linen closet or the sneaky toys that hid under the couch instead of staying put in their appropriate toy bins, it's clean enough.

That, or all of my mental singing of this song is paying off and I've successfully adopted it as my house cleaning motto:

Because at the end of the day, it took me seven hours to get my table to this point:

And seven hours to find the proper place to hide the remaining laundry I didn't have time to put away:

(For what it's worth, the bedroom dresser makes a sweet laundry hiding spot. No visitors ever really pop into your room and if they do, you can pull the "oh, yes, I was just tending to this massive mound of laundry before you dropped by!")

A for effort, right?

From where I stand (lapping up my excessive use of mop water with a towel because apparently I like to drown the dirt off the tile which really only works in theory), it's good enough.

Because we're four cats, two adults and a toddler living under one little roof and tomorrow is My Gym day. Which trumps cleaning day. Unlike cleaning, we're really, really good at playing.

To summarize: don't expect to see my house on any home design blogs, like, ever.

10.18.2014

introducing the lil marc potty training urinal (& giveaway!)

A couple of weeks ago, I posted a photo to Instagram and Facebook of Ethan gearing up for his first round of potty training. Within moments of posting, my social media feeds were on fire from parents of boys asking for details on the super awesome and adorable urinal in the background. This was the photo in question:

I'm excited to not only introduce you to this great product today but to do so as the parent of a potty-trained kid! If it sounds like I'm gloating, I sort of am. I took the "let him tell me when he's ready" approach to potty training but, you know, Ethan is over 3, over 40 pounds and allergic to all mainstream diapers which means we were sort of running out of time (and money, because his special diapers should have been made from gold for what they cost). I thought for sure he'd be going away to college in diapers, which I believe I told the great folks who created the Lil' Marc Potty Training Urinal when they offered us a chance to try one. The day our Lil' Marc arrived in the mail, Ethan seemed intrigued and asked for underwear. The day after it arrived in the mail, Ethan was potty trained completely (yes, even at nighttime). Coincidence? I don't think so. Lil' Marc makes potty training fun and I am so excited that I can confidently say that. (Give me my moments of glory. I may have seriously thought my kid would be going away to college in diapers.)

Anyway, the Lil' Marc Potty Training Urinal is perhaps the cutest, most unique potty training tool on the market. I had never seen anything like it before! I'm not sure if it was only my sweet child who had an irrational fear of falling into the toilet, but the Lil' Marc alleviated those fears while showing him the ropes of controlling his bladder and learning where his pee pee should go (I've learned this is a difficult task for little boys). As of now, Ethan will finally sit on a potty (even when out in public) without fear. He also has mastered his urinal skills for when his dad takes him to places by himself, too, and the mens room becomes a must!

Curious as to how it works? No problem -- Ethan was really excited to help me with this demonstration. We decided that no one really wanted to see photographs of urine (you're welcome), so we put a couple drops of food color in some water for our demonstration.

Yes, the top of the Lil' Marc urinal is a spout which makes for easy, no-mess cleaning. No yucky pieces to bang against the toilet or spill all over the place. It was also very easy to clean. After dumping, I'd just wipe it down with a wipe. At the end of the day, I just put some water and a couple drops of bleach inside the urinal and then poured it out the top spout.

The Lil' Marc can stand alone as we have it (perfect for carrying around the house, because that's how the first couple of days of potty training went for us!) or it can easily attach it to a wall or door with the hardware included.

I also got a lot of questions about the portability of the Lil' Marc. It is extremely portable and lightweight. Ethan offered to demonstrate this, too:

The Lil' Marc can definitely travel with you on those trips to Grandma's house or even car trips when you don't want to get stuck using public toilets.

The Lil' Marc retails for $29.95 and can be purchased online. Also, be sure to stay connected with Lil' Marc on Facebook for great updates and special offers!

The wonderful folks at Lil' Marc are offering one of my readers the opportunity to win a potty training urinal of your very own! No, don't take a minute to let that sink in and realize what parenthood has done to you to make you excited about a urinal -- just go with it! This great giveaway is open to US residents!

Good luck!

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