and one afternoon i knew i could love you

We've been extraordinarily busy this past week. My husband used a few vacation days to spend the majority of this past week home with Ethan. On the agenda for the week was everything that we normally do that my husband unfortunately has to miss out on -- and we managed to squeeze all of these things into five very busy days! Ethan is pretty gloomy that dada isn't hanging around the house with us today and I keep imagining my husband sitting at his desk at work, equally as gloomy. On that note, I'd like to publicly announce that my husband cleaned our entire house from top to bottom, including the floors and doing all of the laundry that had piled up to a degree even I'm too embarrassed to admit to. Best husband ever award? Yeah, I nominate mine. Let's all applaud his awesomeness and maybe cheer him up a little bit on his first day away from Ethan in a week.

It was a week of playdates, of My Gym, of singing songs and dancing around the circle, of realizing just how lucky Ethan is to have the daddy he has, of laughter to the point of hiccups, of splash pads to squash the summer heat and indoor playgrounds to avoid it altogether. It was a week where happiness and love glowed brighter than the sun, where the rain pounded down on the windows while Ethan soundly slept.

While Ethan napped and slept at night, my husband and I worked together on Ethan's birthday slideshow, both acknowledging we'll probably cry through the whole thing anyway. It's those moments where I love him even more than usual (which is a lot-lot, please believe) not just because of the person he is, but the daddy he is.

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almost one. almost.

My child is almost one. I freak out a little more each day that passes and with each inevitable reminder. His friends who he began mommy and me classes with back when their eyes were barely open and all they did was lay on blankets? They're turning one. Each weekend, there is another celebration and another set of parents trying to figure out how their newborn is now smashing pieces of birthday cake while an adoring crowd of friends and family cheer on.

Lately, my life has been full of little reminders. I've been making the guest list for Ethan's party, addressing invitations, getting price quotes for the menu and scouring the internet for ideas that I just might be able to handle and then inevitably being wrong about that. As I cross all of these little tasks off of my list, I try to avoid thinking about the fact that Ethan is turning one and just simply turn my mind off. This proved to be especially impossible when my husband and I began working on Ethan's first birthday slideshow. Each sweet song I've heard millions of times before somehow sounded even sweeter and moved me to tears as it played on alongside photographs documenting all of Ethan's days so far. This slideshow process? It's almost painful. Like the masochist I am, I spent nearly an hour the other day watching it on repeat and feeling my heart break into teeny-tiny little pieces. This was the same day that CBR, who we banked Ethan's cord blood and tissue with, sent Ethan a happy birthday card and board book. He is already getting first birthday gifts. It all just became more and more real from there. This was only the start to the inevitable breakdown that would ensue.

Ethan's birthday party is a farm theme and judging by the myriad of "so easy!" farm animal shaped crayon tutorials I found while browsing the internet, I decided to give these little guys a go for Ethan's goodie bags. More than once, my husband suggested I sit down and take a break as I screamed from the kitchen from hot wax burns. Our kitchen counter and floor are coated with wax. There is a cup full of mess-ups: red cows with green spots, roosters with no legs, horses without heads. I must have sent my best friend about a hundred photographs of my mishaps and documenting my frustration as my crayons took six minutes to cool despite the fact each tutorial claimed thirty seconds. Twenty-six nervous breakdowns later, I managed to end the day with 100-something crayons in almost perfect farm animal shapes.

...And a little boy who is almost one. Almost one.

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to life, to life.

This afternoon, the pupa we adopted at Butterfly World (and named Chaia) hatched. We watched her flap her wings inside the safe confines of her container, indicating she was ready to leave us. I've gotten strangely accustomed to neurotically checking in on Chaia multiple times a day, worrying she's going to emerge when we're not home or can't immediately get to her. She had impeccable timing today, deciding to emerge shortly after Ethan awoke from his nap and was lazily munching on an afternoon snack.

We stepped outside and faced a ridiculously muggy afternoon to let Chaia free. Ethan excitedly smiled as he watched our beautiful butterfly flap her orange and black wings inside the jar. He watched intently as I pulled back the lid and let her fly away. She fluttered above his face, up past the trees and into the blue sky.

And then she was gone, fluttering higher and higher up into the sky until we could no longer see her. The sun stung at our eyes and we made our way back into the house. Ethan eyed the empty jar and then moved his eyes back towards the sky. Sometimes there aren't words for how incredible nature is or, even moreso, how magical it is experiencing the things we take for granted with our children.

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Ten Months.

And just like that, I have a 10 month old. 10 months. In just two short months, I'll have a one year old and I'm not at all ready to face that yet.

Ten months has been a fun age, albeit a bit exhausting. Ethan is all over the place and into everything. It's been a month for crawling, for climbing, for pulling to stand, for exploring. It's been a month for really forming solid opinions on things and refusing to go to sleep until dada comes home.

At ten months, Ethan's favorite foods would be leafy greens, particularly kale and collard greens. He's been into feeding himself these days. We've moved onto an even mix of finger foods and purees. Sleeping is still not Ethan's best skill, but he's doing a little bit better. These days it's a cause for celebration if he only has one or two wake-ups per night, which is what he's been averaging lately. He's in 12-18 month clothing at this point and size four diapers. At his last doctor's visit he was 24 pounds and almost 30 inches tall. He's down to one nap per day at around noon, which normally lasts for an hour and a half to two hours. He's also coming so close to cutting his fifth tooth. It's almost there. Almost.

Ethan's social calendar is still a busy one. We do Stroller Strides, My Gym and swimming lessons throughout the week. These days, we have a first birthday party nearly each weekend as all of Ethan's friends have started to turn one.

Ethan loves animals -- petting them, snuggling them, laughing whenever we're on a walk and a dog on a leash passes by. He's starting to love his touch-and-feel animal books, especially one that he has which features this soft, brown bunny. He thinks petting this bunny is hilarious and never lets me turn the page. When we're out at a store, he'll see something he wants and start his chant of dat! dat! dat! We've got that, we've got cat, we've got dada -- I won't take it personally. Mommy has to come at some point, right? I say this at nearly each monthly recap, but I'm fairly certain that this is the best age yet. It's wonderful watching him really start to absorb his surroundings and grow into his own person. Though it doesn't at all feel like it's truly been this long yet, it has been such an incredible ten months.

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supergoop sunscreen swipes review and giveaway

Sunscreen is a pretty important thing, especially down here in South Florida. At the same time, sunscreen can be full of chemicals and toxins that I wouldn't really be comfortable putting on Ethan's very sensitive skin. Since we do spend a lot of time outdoors, I had carefully selected a natural brand of sunscreen and would apply it to his skin before our outdoor activities. Applying sunscreen on a spunky 10 month old? It's not pretty. I'd be covered in sunscreen, my clothes would be covered in sunscreen, Ethan's hair would be covered in sunscreen, the stroller would be covered in sunscreen -- and he'd be flailing his limbs and shaking his head and kicking his feet just so I wouldn't hold him down to rub the lotion on him.

Supergoop (how cute is the name?) has suncreen wipes, called Swipes. The concept is brilliant and so is Supergoop's commitment to providing safe and natural protection against the sun. Supergoop's Swipes are SPF 30+ and are free from parabens, fragrances and oxybenzone. They contain Vitamin E and also green tea, which naturally reduces irritation and redness.

Did I mention they're wipes? Brilliant!

I was able to easily wipe Ethan down with these wipes while he didn't take his eyes off of a bird sitting in a tree next to our car. It wasn't any different than me wiping him down with baby wipes (you know, as far as he was concerned) and the whole thing took no longer than a minute!

The Supergoop sunscreen formula isn't greasy and blended into his skin quickly. There was no white residue or lingering grease for him to wipe into his eyes. This formula was safe for face and body, which is perfect as I was getting kind of tired of carrying two different sunscreens with me everywhere we go. This is good for all skin types but is specially formulated for those with sensitive skin, making it safe for babies who need their fair share of sun protection, too!

TO BUY: To read more about Supergoop and their Sunscreen Swipes or to start your shopping, click here!

Otherwise, Supergoop have awesomely given eight of my readers the chance to try their Sunscreen Swipes! The giveaway ends at midnight on 5/5/12 and is open to US residents. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


we all know about the hive and the honey bees

Whenever Ethan and I go to Butterfly World (which is often, as it is our favorite place for quiet mornings or lazy afternoons), I am reminded of my Bubbie. As Alzheimer's began to take her over and we, her children and grandchildren, began to tend to her as one would a child, I loved letting her give into childish joys. I'd bring her to Butterfly World and hold her hand like I was the parent and she was the child. She would point out butterflies, admire their colors and beauty, and on we would stroll. I would stop at the cafe and purchase her a lemonade which made her smile as she would take one sip and then forget about it until it was warm and another old cup lining the floorboard of my mess of a car. Sometimes I would buy her an ice cream cone -- always butter pecan -- and she would finish every last bite with a smile on her face. My Bubbie loved birds, and with the innocence of a child she would smile down at the lorikeets inquisitively as they perched on her hand and lapped up the nectar. She didn't ask questions and for that brief time she wasn't confused, just solely enjoying the beauties of nature like anyone else. Though I rarely refer to her moments with Alzheimer's disease as my fondest memories, those afternoons at Butterfly World often are. Each dollar I paid the attendant in exchange for a cup of nectar so she could marvel in the wonders of the lorikeets was my way of trying to repay her for the moments of my childhood that she filled with magic.

As I visit Butterfly World with Ethan these days, I'm always silently wishing that Bubbie could be here with us to marvel in the sights and sounds, to peacefully stroll through the tranquil gardens with us. My Bubbie has been on my mind more than ever lately and today was no different. Ethan and I stopped to admire a flock of butterflies eating from a plate of overripe bananas. As we sat on a bench I sat on with Bubbie many times over the years, I contemplated how unfair it was that Bubbie wasn't here and how I wished so much that she could be.

And then, in a way, maybe she was.

A beautiful white butterfly with tattered wings landed on Ethan. There it stayed for nearly a half an hour as we continued to browse the gardens. Ethan stared at the magnificent insect, smiled, and continued on like it was nothing unusual. He drank from his straw cup, he munched on his puffs, and still the butterfly sat upon his arm. After a while, there was a clang from a door that a group of elementary students on a field trip slammed too hard. The butterfly flew away then, up past the lilac flowers and then past where we could see. Ethan watched until he could no longer make out the butterfly and then returned to his puffs.

When I was younger, my favorite part about Butterfly World was the opportunity to adopt a pupa and watch it hatch into a beautiful butterfly. Before exiting, Ethan and I stopped at the gift shop and browsed the selection of pupas looking for a place to hatch and spread their wings. We selected a Monarch pupa because it was the only one if it's kind left, seeming lonely amongst the Swallowtails and Julias.

We named the pupa Chaia. If I ever had a girl, I would love to name her Chaia. It is one of my favorite names. My husband, on the other hand, has given that name an absolutely not and so Chaia became the pupa and, soon, the butterfly that will live on in memories, photographs and then in nature far away from us. Chaia means life, which seemed only appropriate of a choice on many levels. A way to remember my Bubbie's life, a name that reminded me of the song she'd always sing (L'chaim, l'chaim to life, to life!), a name that symbolized the beautiful butterfly that would soon emerge. The clerk told us that the butterfly would likely emerge early in the morning and that we'd likely wake up to see her flapping her wings. With that in mind, I imagined that Ethan's bedroom would be a fitting place for Chaia to reside in the mean time until the morning they can wake up together.

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oh, mercy will you follow me

It is always hot here in South Florida, but lately it is hot. The sticky kind of hot that leaves your clothes clinging to you, saturated in sweat from even the quickest walk from your door to your mailbox and back again. The kind of hot that makes a mirage of water dance on the horizon of the boiling hot pavement while you're driving in your car with the air conditioning blasting so high you can't hear a thing over it.

Ethan and I discovered the beauty of indoor playgrounds at the perfect time, as the looming threat of a Florida summer taunts us.

He enjoyed crawling across the fake grass, a cool breeze blowing from the air conditioning vent above. He sipped his water and I sipped a frozen coffee drink and I knew that we both enjoyed laughing at the Florida heat watching us from the other side of the glass windows. It couldn't get us in here. It couldn't drown us in sweat and apathy. We were safe here with the fake grass and the playground slides and the pedal cars.

We escaped the heat for nearly three hours. Ethan created several masterpieces, one of which was special enough to find it's new home in the art gallery of the play center. The other was special enough to find itself tucked in the special trinkets flap of his baby book, where all frog masks with noisemaker tongues should go.

It was a good day. A good day filled with laughter and memories and everything except sweat and record heat. A day in which we didn't feel like melting. From the heat, I mean. His smile melts me every time.

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