hoppity hop hop.

This morning Ethan met the Easter bunny.

Beforehand, we had a family breakfast at First Watch and spent most of it talking to Ethan about the bunny who he would very soon meet. He was more interested in his oatmeal and his puffs.

His first reaction to the Easter bunny was one of pure horror, but eventually he warmed up to the idea that he was for some some reason sitting on the lap of a life-size rabbit wearing glasses.

The holidays are so much more fun with kids.

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baby harmony all-natural household cleansers review & giveaway

For starters, let me just say that I was so excited to work with Baby Harmony to do a review of their household cleansers from the get-go. After being able to work so closely with them, I am even more overcome with excitement that such fantastic people and such a fabulous, honest company exist. It's not everyday that you can call a company and speak with the founder because they care about their products that much. (Can I also take a minute to congratulate Baby Harmony on receiving Whole Foods market's highest eco-scale rank for eco-friendly, green products?!)

There is nothing about cleaning with chemicals or keeping chemicals in our home that I like. I am always wishing for chemical-free or plant-derived alternatives to daily cleaning staples. For instance, I can't begin to tell you how many times I've wished that there was a baby-safe hand soap on the market. There are so many instances when baby wipes don't cut it but, at the same time, I can't bring myself to use standard handsoap on Ethan's gentle baby hands. Baby Harmony? You bet they have handsoap that is safe for babies. The thin, pure and clear soap creates a gentle lather with just a tiny drop and rinses completely clean. No film, no residue, no perfumes or dyes making contact with your little one's hands. The ingredients in Baby Harmony's handsoap (and all of their other products) come from nature. It's a safe, natural way to keep baby's hands clean and free from exposure to chemicals.

While washing Ethan's hands, I took notice to how filthy our bathroom mirror is. Just one spray of Baby Harmony's glass cleaner -- one spray! -- was enough to wipe the entire thing completely clean. Check out the before and then the after:

It was so nice to be able to spray the glass while not having to herd my pets and child out of the room to avoid contact with the fumes and chemical smells. I don't miss those fumes one bit. In fact, Baby Harmony have made it so that you never need another chemical cleaner. Ever. It's their pure passion and devotion for keeping our little ones both safe from unnecessary toxins and clean that makes me love Baby Harmony so much. Created by a grandmother who sought something better for her grandchildren, the love that goes into all of these products was completely apparent from the beginning. When I use these cleansers, I feel confident knowing that I am giving my child a clean environment, a safer planet and keeping him free from any harmful toxins and strong chemicals.

When trying to list everything that I loved about Baby Harmony after using their products, my mind is all over the place, sputtering out tidbits that I don't want to leave out because I am just overcome with love for these products. Let me break it down a little bit more, starting with some more of my favorite of the products.

One of the first products I tried was the 3X Concentrate Laundry Wash. There are no dyes or fragrances added to this laundry wash, which is a relief for someone like me who is allergic to just about any additive in most mainstream laundry detergents. I loved that this was HE compatible which can be hard to find in an authentic pure and clear detergent. Using plant-derived cleaning agents, this laundry wash does it's job and makes clothing clean while ensuring you that your baby won't be exposed to any harsh chemicals. I used this to wash an incredibly large load of very dirty laundry: swimsuits and wet towels soaked in chlorinated water after swim class, an outfit covered in banana after Ethan practiced feeding himself, a shirt of mine that had survived an exercise class during a very hot Florida day. All of the clothing came out of the wash completely clean, smelling fresh but not of chemicals.

Next we tried out the toy and highchair cleaner. Everyone with a baby knows that everything goes into their mouths. It's imperative to keep Ethan's toys clean so that he doesn't pick up any germs, but it's also worrisome to me to think of the chemicals he's ingesting when he inevitably sticks those toys into his mouth. Many cleaners formulated for toys or the highchair require rinsing after use. Baby Harmony's toy and highchair cleaner requires no rinsing. It's natural, plant-derived ingredients are safe enough to ensure that baby's toys are clean but not full of toxins.

I first tried out the cleaner on the aftermath that was Ethan's breakfast of yogurt and avocado. I cleaned half the tray off using two quick swipes of a paper towel with Baby Harmony's toy and highchair cleaner. The other half showcases the mess that just a drop of this effective cleaner was able to cut through:

When a hungry baby is ready for some puffs, do you want to be the one to tell him that he has to wait while you rinse off the harmful chemicals you sprayed on the table he eats off of and then wait a while while it dries? ;)

Baby Harmony's dish and bottle soap was also fantastic. A little bit truly goes a long way. A tiny squirt maybe half the size of a pinky nail is able to create a total lather. I also loved how lightweight this dish soap is. With other dish soaps, the residue can feel grimy. Sometimes I have to wash bottles 3 or 4 times until I convince myself I can no longer feel the filmy residue or can no longer feel that greasy feel that milk residue can sometimes leave. With this soap, a quick scrub and lather from the plant-derived ingredients was enough to loosen any particles and completely clean Ethan's dishes and bottles. There was no thick, soapy film. There was no greasy residue lingering behind. His dishes and bottles were spotless. Like I said, a little goes a long way. One single squirt will clean an entire sink full of dishes!

Another one of my favorites would be the carpet and upholstery cleaner. Ethan was having a snack on our living room area rug the other day and somehow we ended up spilling a glob of plums onto the floor. Oops. The cleaner was able to remove the stains from the area rug completely. The best part was, it was safe to use without having to lock my cats up in another room upon spraying the rug. With no fumes, no dyes, no fragrances, the plant-derived ingredients once again came to the rescue!

There isn't a product that Baby Harmony hasn't thought of. Baby Harmony's complete line-up of all-natural, pure and free, organic, green, eco-friendly products include:
  • All Purpose Cleanser
  • Carpet & Upholstery Cleaner
  • Dish & Bottle Wash
  • Floor Cleaner
  • Glass Cleaner
  • Hand Soap
  • Laundry Wash 3X Concentrate
  • Non-Chlorine Bleach
  • Toy & Highchair Cleaner
Each one of their products are created using plant-derived ingredients, food-grade preservatives and purified water. They contain a special blend of all-natural ingredients they've developed. Not only are those products fabulous for quick clean-ups while baby is playing, but they're great for the environment. Even their packaging is 100% recyclable. With no harmful fumes and ingredients that only came from nature, both your baby's health and mother nature will thank you.

If you're wondering isn't it super pricey to be green? I just want to say that it doesn't have to be. Baby Harmony's prices are comparable to any cleaner on the market and a little bit goes such a long way. Baby Harmony has the well-being of your little ones in mind with their products and they make it an affordable option to keep your home safe from harmful toxins. With ingredients so gentle yet effective, you'll notice the difference right away. Case in point: we have wood floors. The Baby Harmony floor cleaner is gentle enough to safely clean our wood floors. I don't miss that horrible chemical "orange" stench of wood cleaner. I, as an adult, can't breathe for an hour after we use it, so it surely isn't a pleasant thing for our pets and baby to have to experience.

LEARN MORE: Read more about Baby Harmony and their pure and free cleaners, visit them at baby-harmony.com or on their blog!

TO BUY: Visit Baby Harmony's online store to purchase any of their products -- including 4 ounce sample sizes and essential oils.

SPECIALS: Like Baby Harmony on Facebook and receive $5 off of your order. Also, you can currently receive free shipping for orders over $20! All $20 purchases are also eligible for some clean, green surprises with your order!

TO WIN: The incredible folks at Baby Harmony have offered one of my readers the chance to win the entire set of Baby Harmony cleaners, valued at $83.00!

This giveaway is open until April 13th at 11:59 PM EST and open to US residents. Good luck and happy green cleaning!

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and the days all float by in a daze, over waves, under sky.

These past few days have been a bit of a blur. A blur in which multiple breathing treatments have somehow weaseled themselves into our lives again. Talk about the gift that keeps on giving. Thanks, RSV. It's not like he had you back in November or anything.

With the doctors predicting all of Ethan's colds will result in a wheezing, rattling, nebulizer-needing nightmare until he's two or three years old, I'm trying my best to mask my devastation each time I clip the tubing into the mask and watch Ethan scream in horror at the very sight of it.

We spent yesterday at the beach. It's something Ethan gives into easier than saline swabs or sprays being shot into his nose. Not to mention the salty air is way more effective than a nasal aspirator. We rented a cabana and had a picnic. Ethan was perfectly content lounging on his cabana chair, munching on a teething biscuit and drinking from his straw cup. (Did I mention we're done with sippy cups and have moved onto straw cups? Did I mention it's just another reminder that my baby is no longer such a baby? Goodness.)

Before we left, we sat in the sand, let the water hit our toes and laughed at the seagulls swarming us after Ethan accidentally spilled his puffs in the sand. Ethan was completely covered in snot by the time we were set to leave which meant the trip served it's purpose -- but the slurry of snot and sand was not the most pleasant mess to clean up. Just take my word for it. Really.

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and pockets full of earth

Today one of Ethan's best buddies, Cassidy, had her first birthday party! A few weeks ago, we kicked off first birthday season in our little group of friends and it's pretty crazy how quickly time has gone by. When Ethan first met his buddies, he was barely two months old!

Having great mom friends is an absolute must. (I still look back and cringe when I think of the days when I was sure that Ethan and I would always attend events alone and never, ever meet anyone we had a thing in common with. I do not miss those days.) We hit the jackpot with our little group of friends and I can't even begin to express how wonderful it's been having such a support system during the chaos that is motherhood.

Cassidy's mommy, Jaime, deserves a party planner of the year award for Cassidy's beautiful party today! She threw Cassidy a beautiful garden party for her first birthday -- and how cute did Cassidy look celebrating her special day?! I love watching our little ones grow up together and celebrate their first birthdays but at the same time, it makes me totally sentimental and nostalgic and not at all ready for it to be Ethan's turn in three short months!

Unfortunately -- because for some reason there always seems to be an unfortunately slipped in there somewhere -- Ethan seems to have come down with a cold. He was full of snot and sniffles and sneezes and all of the other yucky things that sadly make for a little boy to stay stuck at home with his daddy and not at his friend's birthday party.

This afternoon, I whipped up a batch of homemade matzoball soup from my mother's family recipe that cured my colds all throughout my childhood. That soup has always been the ultimate comfort food for me and now here I am, preparing the same recipe for my own son when he isn't feeling well. (I know I'll never be able to make it like my mother, however. Why is that?) My mother's matzoball soup has always been one of my favorite foods, reminding me of childhood and my grandmother and family and everything that is warm and good in life. Ethan finished every last drop in his bowl and was laughing and giggling as we prepared him for bed. I could almost hear my grandmother: "Jewish penicillin," she'd insist, whenever I said that I was already feeling better.

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nine months.

Ethan turned nine months old today. As we pulled out the last sheet of monthly onesie stickers, I felt a little meltdown on the horizon. There's no way that my baby can already be nine months old. (We'll just skip the part about my horror upon realizing that the 12 month Gerber onesie I was using no longer fit.) In three measly months, I'll have a one year old. That's all I'm going to say about the subject because, well, it's going to make me cry.

My little nine month old is very much on the go. He's mastered crawling at ridiculous speeds and stopping my heart a little bit each time he fearlessly pulls himself up onto...oh, everything. He's inquisitive and determined, not easily forgiving of anyone who tells him no. In addition to his physical feats, he's also accomplished this pout that is the perfect conglomerate of this does not make me happy and you will not get away with this. It's complete with fists balled at his sides and a perturbed little grunt. Life. It's so rough.

I'm going to pull the typical mom card and gush about how every little thing he does astounds me (because it does)...except for sleeping. This kid? He doesn't sleep. I'm convinced he simply doesn't require it. A thirty minute to an hour snooze in the middle of the day to recharge and he's ready to take on the world some more. I wish I could say the same about myself.

Ethan's favorite foods are still zucchini, pumpkin and avocado but he's starting to give other things a fair chance -- except sweet potatoes. I've recently begun introducing legumes into his diet and black beans? This kid loves black beans. We're working on introducing tiny finger foods and not pureeing his meals as thin. He's getting a little better at learning to pick pieces of food up and feed himself though we're still at the stage where he ends up wearing more than he actually swallowed.

As far as his statistics go, he weighed in yesterday at 22.8 pounds and 28 3/4 inches long. He's currently in a variety of 12-18 month clothing depending on the brand, although I did get him swim trunks in a 2T at Target the other day and they fit him perfectly. He's still saying dada (whatever, Ethan!) and has recently added dat to his repertoire when he sets his sight on something he wants to crawl to.

I'll try to refrain from laying the sentimentality on too thick, but it's completely blowing my mind how quickly time is carelessly flying by. These days all I want to do is snuggle Ethan and read stories (okay, and maybe nap) but he is simply on the go.

(Case in point. Enough, mom.)

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biogaia baby probiotic drops review and giveaway

There really is no dignified way to say it, so I'll just say it: Ethan has always been a super constipated baby. When he was a newborn, we dealt with gas and colic and his reflux and as he got older, we moved onto the sheer joys of constipation. I'm talking an entire day (or two or three or four) of grunting, writhing in discomfort and a devastating inability to have a bowel movement. Just ask my husband about the time we were out to dinner and the entire restaurant was turning around to stare at the little boy in the highchair (that'd be Ethan) who was grunting and carrying on in such misery so loud that everyone could hear and undoubtedly lose their appetite. It hasn't been pleasant. We went through months of all-natural, herbal supplements or laxatives before I consulted with our pediatrician and we both acknowledged that probiotics would be the best route here. Armed with determination to end Ethan's grunting and absolute misery once and for all, I consulted a nutritionist at a local health food store. He was quick to point me in the direction of "the best, most gentle probiotic on the market for babies." He sold me. Of course, this probiotic had to be difficult. It had to be served in a cold bottle which contradicted Ethan's reflux thickener that was added to a warm bottle. It must have tasted as great as it smelled because getting Ethan to take it was a struggle. After a day on this new probiotic, he began having diarrhea. The diarrhea ensued until I made the decision to stop the probiotic -- in which case the diarrhea stopped. I couldn't help but notice the ingredients included dairy and fish, none of which seemed helpful in my little guy's tummy. This is when BioGaia came into the picture and saved the day!

BioGaia's baby probiotic drops are a little bottle with big results. For starters, I was thrilled to see that their ingredients were way more gentle than the previous probiotics we've tried. They contain Lactobacillus reuteri Protectis which is found in breastmilk. In fact, it's one of the first bacteria naturally established in your newborn's digestive system. You can't get much gentler or more natural. Most other probiotic strands -- like the one I've tried previously -- are only temporary inhabitants that come from your food intake. The other ingredients in BioGaia's baby probiotic drops? Only sunflower oil, medium chain triglyceride oil and silicon dioxide. That's it. No fish, no wheat, no dairy, no harmful chemicals, additives, allergens or preservatives.

BioGaia doesn't have an odor and it doesn't have a taste. You can add it to a cool bottle of milk, juice, water or other liquids (you don't want it to be too warm so it doesn't kill the good bacteria in the probiotic), in food or you can even give it via spoon. This is the route we take. I put five drops on a spoon for Ethan and he slurps it up in the morning before he has his breakfast.

There's no struggle to get him to take a thick, chalky liquid. There's no struggle at all. Just one slurp of the odorless, watery liquid from the spoon and that's it, he's finished.

I noticed a difference in Ethan's digestive comfort on the second day of him being on BioGaia's probiotic drops. The grunting, writhing in discomfort, the pushing, the straining, the misery was over and done with that quickly. I thought maybe it was too soon to tell but continued the drops regularly in the mornings. The BioGaia probiotic drops were doing their job quickly and, most importantly, naturally and safely. His digestive system was regulated and he was able to have normal, painless bowel movements. His overall demeanor changed when he no longer had to spend upwards of five hours straining to go to the bathroom. His entire feeding habits and bathroom habits have completely transitioned into a much more pleasant experience (for him, for us and for every patron in whatever restaurant we eat at in the future!).

BioGaia probiotic drops are safe, gentle and they really do the trick -- naturally. They also come in the form of probiotic straws and chewable tablets, perfect for children of all ages. Working with BioGaia has been wonderful as not only have we been able to change Ethan's digestive health for the better with their fabulous probiotic drops, I've been able to catch a glimpse into BioGaia as a company. They truly believe in their product and the well-being of our little ones.

With his tummy troubles out of the way, Ethan is free to play, grow, develop and explore the way a baby is supposed to. Thank you, BioGaia!

BUY IT: You can purchase BioGaia at Walgreens or online. Click here to find an option near you!

WIN IT: Thanks to the amazing people over at BioGaia, one lucky reader will have the chance to win BioGaia baby probiotic drops! This giveaway is open to US residents and will close on April 4th, 2012.

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