finally five.

Today, Ethan turned five.

It's been a birthday I've had trouble coming to grips with. Five. After all, it's the end of babyhood as we know it. Five begins new adventures, bigger adventures, different adventures. I've been trying to remind myself that they're still adventures all the same.

I've spent so much time trying to remember every single day that Ethan and I have spent together over these past five years. He has been my sidekick from day one. If I close my eyes I can still recall those exhausting, terrifying new days of first-time motherhood and infancy: colic, reflux, thrush, crying -- from both of us -- and trying to find ways to spend the day. I can still remember those lazy afternoons of rocking my infant son in my arms as I hummed Iron and Wine songs to him softly. And then he grew, slowly but surely. Walking, talking (never shutting up), learning, developing into not just my son but my best friend. The person I spent every moment of every day with. The one who saw me through heartache and the greatest pain one can ever endure. It is him who I credit for my spirit staying in tact when I thought I was losing it, losing everything. He is the reason I'm still here, the one I attribute every ounce of this beautiful life to.


In August, he begins preschool and though it's just two mornings a week, my throat catches when I think of how different things will be. Different, but not bad, I am trying to remind myself. With everything he does, my world swirls with pride and love and joy and I know this is just another opportunity to be his biggest cheerleader. His biggest fan.

Per Ethan's request, he spent the day playing with the new gifts that we surprised him with when he woke up this morning. We met my husband at Starbucks for an impromptu coffee break and then later had dinner at Smokey Bones, his favorite restaurant. Our house looks a little like Pinterest and Party City threw up all over the place as I work (and stress) myself to the bone for his birthday party this weekend. His fifth birthday party. Five. It's all so surreal, really.

This child. This little boy. He embodies hope and promise. He is the future. He is love personified. He is five today and I am proud, so proud, to be his mommy.

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baby merlin's magic sleep suit review + special giveaway!

Carmen has been testing out her Magic Sleep Suit for just about two weeks now. I've basically told everyone we encounter about this puffy magic suit of wonderment and each time I mention it, I'm asked if it really works. Can I give a resounding yes?

We have low expectations for sleep in our household. Ethan is just about five years old and still it's considered a rarity for him to sleep through the night. When Carmen began sleeping for such long stretches early on, we were in disbelief. Eventually it came time to transition her out of the swaddle and, well, it wasn't pretty. She still desired that cozy and safe feeling, and her self-startle reflexes were keeping her up the entire night. She began to regress to multiple wake-ups each night and was just generally miserable as anyone would be if they weren't able to comfortably get themselves to sleep when tired. I read all about the Magic Sleep Suit and was intrigued by so many factors. I had the same questions that most people have when they ask me about it: Isn't it too hot? How exactly does it work? I was fortunate enough to be able to speak to the folks behind the Magic Sleep Suit to get some answers and eventually see the sleep suit in action for myself.

For starters, no, it is not too hot. I get it. I live in South Florida where it's always hot and the feeling that your flesh is melting clear off your bones is as familiar as breathing. We keep our home at 74 degrees day and night, so it's always cool enough for even us adults to sleep under cozy blankets. Carmen goes to sleep in a disposable diaper and light onesie underneath her sleep suit (which is made of a soft, breathable microfleece exterior). You'll notice that the Magic Sleep Suit has open hands and feet, which allows for increased air flow and heat dissipation. Carmen was a preemie and, at 3 1/2 months old, is still itty-bitty. Because of this, we had to cuff the feet of her sleep suit to keep the neckline where it should be and to ensure she cannot pull her feet up into the suit while she sleeps. The Magic Sleep Suit comes in two sizes: 3-6M and 6-9M. While Carmen fits the age and the milestones (this feisty girl was breaking out of her swaddle blankets early on), she is still mostly in 0-3M clothing and so we needed to cuff the feet for a proper fit.

As per recommended, we made Carmen's first Magic Sleep Suit experience one during naptime where we could keep a closer eye on her. She slept for two straight hours and was ready and refreshed to start the day. That night was no different. With her Magic Sleep Suit, Carmen sleeps from 9:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m., wakes up to eat and sleeps for another hour.

So how does it work?

Much like a swaddle and much unlike a loose fitting wearable blanket, the Magic Sleep Suit helps give your little one that cozy, secure feeling as they sleep. The suit also helps muffle startle reflexes and involuntary movements that would otherwise wake a sleeping baby. Following the guidelines to help prevent SIDS, the Magic Sleep Suit also helps keep babies sleeping on their backs longer. Even when a baby can roll over during the day, it is difficult (if not nearly impossible) to do in the suit. Back is best, as we all know!

I have been recommending the Magic Sleep Suit as a baby product must-have every opportunity I get. Carmen goes to sleep smiling and wakes up bright-eyed and refreshed after a peaceful night of uninterrupted, safe sleep.

The amazing folks behind Magic Sleep Suit have offered my readers the opportunity to win Magic Sleep Suit of their very own to try. Good luck -- and sweet dreams!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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ethan's 5 year birthday interview

Every year, I do a birthday interview with Ethan and then print the responses to place in a binder. I plan to do this every year to see his responses change over time. This year, we added a couple more questions to the mix to try to preserve more of Ethan at 5. (Five. I still can't believe it. I refuse to believe it.)

Favorite thing about birthdays: Cake!

Favorite memory from the past year: I like remembering going to the zoo. And also when we adopted my sister.

Classes or lessons you’ve taken this past year: Robotics, yoga, art class, swim class, My Gym, music.

Favorite restaurant: Smokey Bones!

Favorite toy: Lego mini-figures.

Favorite sport: Anyway, I have a Ninja Turtle baseball, right?

Favorite color: Blue!

Favorite book: A Light In The Attic.

Favorite food: Trail mix and cheese and crackers.

Favorite drink: Water and chocolate milk and regular milk.

Favorite movie: The Peanuts movie.

Favorite TV show: The Cat in the Hat and Sid the Science Kid.

Favorite song: Riptide and Lime Tree.

Favorite Place To Go: Hmm…I can’t even think about that! Legoland! Yes, Legoland!

Favorite Thing To Do: Spend time with mommy and daddy. Tot school and making art in tot school is my favorite thing to do, too.

Favorite animal: A T-Rex!

Favorite thing to wear: My Jack Skellington shirt.

When I grow up I want to be a: Everything! A police officer, a firefighter, a doctor, a construction worker, an astrophysicist, a scientist – just everything.

What do you like most about yourself? I’m funny!

This year I want to learn more about: Ancient Egypt. I also want to know why we have bones.

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three months.

Carmen Fable is three months old today! My husband pointed out what a crazy three months it's been and he would be right. I'm noticing something about adoption: because you didn't physically carry and birth a tiny human yourself, you're almost expected to be back to your pre-baby activities with virtually no adjustment period or suitable level of downtime. I'm allowing myself to acknowledge that having an infant is a huge familial change (albeit an awesome one) and letting myself get comfortable with more down time and declined playdates or outings than I've ever been comfortable with. Mostly I've just been soaking up copious amounts of snuggle time with Ethan and Carmen because the magic hasn't yet faded and I still find myself in utter disbelief that she's here. A new dinnertime normal and laundry schedule will come in time. I'm just trying to enjoy the newness and the now and the fact that, despite the odds, we have two little ones at home getting to know one another.

Carmen is still in newborn size clothing but as finally made her way into some 0-3 month outfits as well! She's been in cloth diapers for a month and it's been going well -- way less scary (and less work!) than I thought. She's eating 3-6 ounces of formula every 3-5 hours, thickened with Gelmix to help with her reflux. Now that we have her silent reflux diagnosed and treated, she's finally eating which is a huge relief! She goes to bed at around 9:30-10:30 each night and sleeps until around 5:00-6:00 a.m., usually with no wake-ups. Considering Ethan will be five years soon and rarely sleeps through an entire night, I'm always a little impressed (and freaked out!) when Carmen manages to sleep all night.

She's awake a lot more during the day and is so vocal and chatty in the morning and before bedtime. She usually takes her brief naps at around 11 a.m., 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. She always falls asleep in the car and seems to love driving (also a stark contrast from Ethan!) -- which is good, because we have a few road trips planned this year! She loves being worn in the Boba wrap as well.

We are so in love with this little one.

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morning pictures.

Adventure tee by The Blue Envelope

Every morning, my husband gets up and starts getting ready for work. Parenting has rendered us pretty good at multitasking. He'll get dressed for work while simultaneously making Ethan breakfast and I'll sip my iced coffee (Will Wake Before The Kids for Starbucks is my motto) while struggling to find my most clean pair of dirty yoga pants and warming a bottle for Carmen. It's this morning dance of chaos that ensures I'm always late to wherever we have plans to go, which is particularly frustrating because I like to be early and I haven't let that go yet. Still, every morning, my children lay down on the rug in Carmen's room and pose for what Ethan has dubbed their "boring morning pictures."

Secretly, he loves it. He'll whisper "come here, sissy! It's me, your bruh bruh," as he kisses her on the cheek before rolling his eyes at me or sticking out his tongue or shaking his ankles just enough to ensure my otherwise frameworthy photo is just the right amount out of focus.

These morning pictures? They're medicine for my soul. They're healing in so many ways. They are hope in picture form and I try to explain to my exasperated four year old who just wants to finish his peanut butter on toast that one day when he's a grown up, he will appreciate these photos. I tell him of my plans to turn them into a book and he starts counting how many more years he has until he's eighteen and doesn't have to take them anymore. "Maybe I can wear my Jack Skellington shirt in tomorrow's picture," he'll declare before running out of Carmen's room. He loves these pictures as much as I do.

There was a time, even just six months ago, that this life felt impossible. I turned 30 on February 1st, laced in depression and failure and inadequacy. A few weeks later, Carmen burst into our lives and so did purpose. Hope. Laughter. Love. As close to completion as we can ever be.

There she was.

Life has sort of broken off into this little floating island of After Carmen and I'm still trying to navigate some sort of attachment to the mainland again. Despite the chaos that comes with having a newborn and a four year old (no one has even sat on our couch for weeks -- likely because you can't even find it underneath the massive mountain of laundry), life feels a little bit like a dream. Most days I feel like we're floating and Carmen is our waterwings. Real life seems narrowly out of reach, but I haven't really tried to reach for it. For so long, I've associated a new normal with trying to stomach unpleasantness that can't be avoided, but this new normal fits more like a reverie. We're sort of floating comfortably near the shoreline while the undesirable moments float by out to sea in the distance. Every (ungodly early) morning we wake up and the dream continues.

And so do the morning pictures.

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