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!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

10.17.2014

the mother of all baby showers south florida 2014

Last night The Mother of All Baby Showers was back in South Florida for another year of this amazing parenting expo held at the Young At Art museum in Davie, Florida. I say "parenting" expo because while it is most definitely the place to be for all new moms and moms-to-be, this event had a lot of relevant products and seminars for parents of toddlers as well. Despite the fact that Young At Art (which is one of Ethan's favorite places in the world, if you were wondering) was filled to the brim with attendees, it felt like everyone in attendance were old friends just meeting up to talk about their kids, their pregnancies and all of the cool gadgets and gear on display over coffee. (That last part quite literally because the Keurig truck? Oh my, what dreams are made of.) The relaxed, friendly atmosphere is what I just love most about the Mother Of All Baby Showers. While there are plenty of opportunities for new moms and dads to be completely scared about their future, the Mother Of All Baby Showers is a great opportunity to relax and appreciate that we're all in this together. The Mother of All Baby Showers (or "MOABS" for the sake of hashtagging) is always the only expo where moms can introduce themselves in the hall for a quick game of show and tell with their children's photos on their iPhones and where you can leave having made a new friend and the sense of relief that comes with a feeling of "I've got this." There's always this awesome sense of togetherness that brings parents together which I just love.

I attended this event with Kate and a couple of our friends (hi Shelly and Samantha!). VIP ticket holders were able to enter the event a half hour earlier and upon entering the museum, we were greeted with The Mother of All Swag Bags. The swag bag was filled with goodies (Pediped shoes, Whole Foods 365 brand baby wipes to name a few) and exclusive deals and coupons. Each swag bag even contained four passes to Young at Art Museum for you to come back with the kiddos during daytime hours.

Once inside the museum with swag bags in tow, we were greeted by the authors of the hilarious parenting guide Sh*tty Mom and host of American Ninja Warrior (and first time mom-to-be herself) Jenn Brown. Every VIP ticket holder received their own hardcover copy of Sh*tty Mom and so we mingled with the (also hilarious!) authors as they signed our copies of the book. We also got to meet Jenn Brown, admire her ability to remain graceful and put together during pregnancy, and snag a selfie with her!

We also got to say a quick hello to the incredible Jennifer Reina of Jennifer Reina Photography who was photographing the event! Check out her beautiful work. You'll thank me later.

And, because we're moms and therefore always tired, we made a quick pit stop at the Keurig truck. I mean, there's this truck filled with coffee that never stops flowing and, well, let's just say we visited the Keurig truck a lot. Thanks, Keurig!

Next up was getting to check out all of the amazing vendors showcasing their products at the MOABS!

The first table we came across was that of Soothe Jewels and their wonderful line of fashionable, safe soothing and teething products. Each one of their products are food grade silicone and safe for baby's teeth and gums. One of the things I loved most about Soothe Jewels was that their price point immediately set them apart from other teething jewelry on the market in terms of them being way more affordable. I also loved that they offer variety: bracelets, pendants, more subtle options for dads. There were also many options for moms who may prefer more subdued, modern jewelry as well as moms who like pops of color and vibrancy.

From there we stopped to admire the beautiful furniture offered by Dutailier who were also giving away one of their gorgeous recliners to one lucky raffle winner! What I loved about the furniture offered by Dutailier is that it can make the transition from nursery to grown up room to living room because it's all so timeless and elegant.


Betsy from Dutailier is kindly modeling one of their awesome recliners for us here!

I could watch Nuroo do their demonstrations over and over again. I think the Nuroo is just the coolest, sweetest thing and such an all-around amazing product for helping mommy and baby bond.

We also got to mingle with Britax and see some of their products. I loved speaking with their CPST who was so patient with me while I had my "car seat nerd out" moments and learned more about Britax's involvement in supporting extended rearfacing.

We also got to sample goodies by Alan Bergman Catering in the main hall -- because it's always important to snack as you shop, okay?

It is always great to meet "mompreneurs" and it was exceptionally great to meet mompreneur Nava Lundy and admire her beautiful paintings. Nava can turn any of your beloved photographs into handpainted masterpieces! Here she is standing with one of her paintings that she painted from a photograph of her sweet twin girls!

We also got to mingle with Mommycise Fitness. I know the reason I personally don't work out everyday is because I have Ethan at home. Mommycise eliminates all of that (or the worry about leaving a child in a gym daycare center) by allowing you to work out with your baby or small child. These fitness and yoga classes are playtime for your little one and a work out for you.

Another great part of the MOABS are the informative seminars. In between panels, you have the opportunity to win some great raffle prizes as well!


I also got to pretend I'm not terrified by public speaking and ask some more car seat questions to the CPSTs on the panels! Major kudos to MOABS for making car seat safety such a high priority for new parents (and veteran parents, too)!

The MOABS is an adults-only night out which means no babies or kids (obviously!) but I do love that they include dads and dads-to-be! One of the great speakers was from the Daddy Bootcamp at Memorial Regional Hospital. Parenting is new and scary for dads, too, and I love that they were included in this great event!

Us moms also had to take a peek at the Destination Dads area, which is new this year! Here, dads got to have their questions answered, get some dad-specific education -- and play games and drink beer (provided by 29 Degree Brewing Company). From what we could see, the dads were having a great time!

It was so nice for me to see the folks from Lil Marc again! The day their potty training urinal was delivered to my house was also the day that Ethan was officially out of diapers so they may be a couple of my favorite people in the world! From the moment I first posted a photo of Ethan's Lil Marc urinal online, I was bombarded with people wanting to know more about the "cute little urinal" he was using. I can't say enough great things about the Lil Marc and -- spoiler alert! -- a special post devoted just to this product will be hitting the blog soon. Moms of boys, pay attention!

If you know me, you know that I am terrified of germs. Petrified. I mean, Ethan did contract RSV when he was an infant that morphed into a whole slew of respiratory issues for the poor kid, so I probably am a little justified. Point being, I couldn't get enough of Kuddle Coat when I saw it! This coat is made for visitors to wear when they come to visit your new baby. Kuddle Coat keeps your baby safe from RSV, influenza, whooping cough, the common cold, ringworm and other viruses that we can carry on our clothing. It also creates a great barrier from cigarette smoke, pet dander and overbearing perfumes.

Some other great highlights from the MOABS:


Learning about soap berries with Kuddle Coat


Did you know Chicco is pronounced kee-ko? My mind was blown!


Sampling macarons, cupcakes and other goodies by Sweet Servings Custom Candy & Dessert Bars


Meeting some new friends from Coral Springs Macaroni Kid and Lake Worth Macaroni Kid


Running into Stephanie from Practicing Parenting...


...and Erika from Essentially Erika


Yummy cakes and food courtesy of Whole Foods Market Plantation


And, of course, snagging a selfie with the Mommy Of The Hour herself, Amy, who is the brainchild behind the Mother Of All Baby Showers! Thank you for an awesome night, Amy!

If you're in South Florida and missed the event this year, you can join me in looking forward to next year's event. The MOABS also hits Tampa on November 14th and the DC Metro Area on April 25th!

Stay up to date with news and the latest happenings by connecting with The Mother of All Baby Showers on Facebook and Twitter!

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