and there you go, halloween.

Just like that. Another Halloween over and gone. After such a busy few days of parties and preparations and chauffering my little Tom Cruise around, I can't say I'm not necessarily relieved to have this downtime before the remaining winter holidays pick back up and swirl our lives into that familiar chaos. Still, I'm sad. Sad that tomorrow won't mean putting on Ethan's white Oxford shirt and slipping tube socks onto squirmy, wriggly little feet. Still, we couldn't have asked for a better Halloween. Ethan's Risky Business costume was a hit and so it's probably good to retire it while it's still basking in it's legendary glory. And this mommy? Well, I need a little break from all of the festivities!

There was the My Gym Halloween party, the Kindermusik Halloween party, the Stroller Strides Boo Brunch, the dance studio Halloween class, the pre-Halloween trick-or-treat parade at a local outdoor shopping mall, the "come in costume and receive 10% off your bill" trick-or-treat at our favorite health food store. Yeah. Tom Cruise has been busy and bedtime has felt so good the past few nights, but it's still been a blast.

By the time Halloween really rolled in tonight, Ethan was a pro at this trick-or-treating thing. (He was also over the shades.) Last year, Ethan was The Fonz and so my husband and I joined in the 1950's fun:

It's so hard to believe that was already a year ago. This year, my husband and I were Lindsay and Nick from Freaks & Geeks. 1998, anyone? No? It's okay. Essentially, people just asked us why we chose not to dress up this year. My heart was still smiling because I thought they were pretty sweet costumes. Of course, it was Mr. Risky Business who stole the show!

Grandma and Grandpa joined in on the Halloween fun. Ethan wasn't sure about Grandpa's sweet mullet wig -- but what a good sport my dad is!

I hope everyone had a wonderful Halloween (and had lots of yummy treats!). It's hard to believe another Halloween has passed, but, oh, it was a good one.


with maps, a mountain range, a piggy bank

The weather is so absolutely gorgeous here in South Florida. It is cool, with highs of 73 degrees in the dead of the afternoon. It is breezy, with gusts of wind blowing your hair and making you reach for your sweater. Your sweater. Mine has been sitting in my closet idly, next to my 'NSync concert tour 1998 souvenir t-shirt and other things that have absolutely no use. I pulled it out of my closet today nearly a year after I've worn it last.

Today temperatures dropped to the 50's. Ethan and I bundled up and went on a 6.8 mile walk.

Tomorrow, they're predicting, temperatures will reach a low of 48 degrees. I can't really imagine weather so frigid nor can I recall another time when Halloween was so cold. Heck, I can't recall a time when it was anything but altogether hot. One year my mother passed on the candy and handed out bottled water to the sweaty trick-or-treaters. It was brutal that year to live in the house that handed out water instead of sugar and chocolate, but the mother in me appreciates the gesture now. Who really needs all that sugar anyway?

Just last year, I whined about the heat on Halloween and how it ruined Ethan's Fonz costume, the leather jacket not lending itself well to weather so hot you're sure your skin is melting clear off. Of course, this year it's freezing for the first time in I don't know how long and my poor son's costume is sans pants. Go figure.

Still, the weather has been such a welcome change from the painful, brutal heat and we've been soaking it all up, spending as much time outdoors as possible.

This is perfect outdoors weather. Perfect chase daddy around the backyard weather. Perfect barbecue and eating dinner at Ethan's picnic table weather.

More than all that, it's been perfect pumpkin carving weather. Finally. Better late than never -- or maybe we can say we were just waiting for the glorious, dreamlike change of weather?

It's crazy what a difference a year can make, in more ways than just the weather. Someone teach me how to pause time? Just for a minute, maybe, to take it all in before it goes.

washy squashy sculpting soap by sunfeather - review

Recently, Ethan and I were given the opportunity to try out a package of Washy Squashy Sculpting Soap by Sunfeather. If you're not familiar with Sunfeather, you should be. They're an amazing handcrafted soap company, though that lackluster description doesn't do them or their products justice. Sunfeather creates all of their products with care and pride by hand. If you're looking for natural soaps without all those harsh chemicals and dyes, check them out. There is nothing that compares to the scents of pure, organic fruit and plant extracts. Nothing.

As I opened the packaging, I was immediately impressed by the size of each bar of sculpting soap. There are six bars in total (Lemon, Vanilla, Berry, Orange, Apple & Mint) and each bar was just that: a full-sized bar. We used the lemon first and I stand behind my initial statement about how nothing can compare to natural extracts. Within minutes of bringing the lemon Washy Squashy soap bar into the tub, the entire bathroom smelled like real lemon -- because the bar is made with real essential lemon oils. The entire half of our house smelled like fresh lemon zest for the duration of the night. It was heavenly. The Washy Squashy soap is as natural as you get. It's colored with natural colorants (no dyes!) and scented by said essential oils and natural aromatics (no artificial fragrances or perfumes!).

While the thrill of the Washy Squashy to you, the parent, might be how natural and pure it is, the thrill to the kids is the fact it's sculpting soap! Like a clay for the tub that cleans you. A bath toy that also leaves your skin fresh and soft. Awesome! Ethan has been into bringing balls from the ballpit into the tub with him and so on the first night, we made a ball from the lemon soap. I felt unimaginative, but Ethan got an absolute kick out of the fact he was bathing with a ball.

The next night, we made a dog. Yes. That is a dog sitting on the soap dish behind Ethan. No, I'm not a sculptor, but it didn't matter to Ethan. He loved the dog we created. We made it's eyes, nose and ears out of the spearmint soap bar. Let me stop and tell you something about the spearmint soap bar: it just might be my favorite thing in the world. As with the lemon soap bar, the entire half of the house smelled like real, pure spearmint.

The Washy Squashy soap bars are easy to sculpt with and, if you're not quite sure you want your masterpiece to harden just yet, they're easy to keep moist and flexible, too. You just store the soap bars in a Ziploc bag, wrapped in a damp cloth. I actually forgot the damp cloth after a rushed bathtime one night and left ours just in a bag and a few days later, it was still perfectly pliable.

Of course, my husband had to sculpt a fish out of the orange soap bar (which smelled like you were walking through an actual orange grove -- take my word for it, I'm from Florida!) to one-up my decrepit dog sculpture. Ethan was so impressed. He played with his soap fish and soap dog as he did his other bath toys, only this time he got clean in the process. For a toddler with little patience for being scrubbed and washed in the tub when there is playing to do, the Washy Squashy is the perfect solution.

The Washy Squashy retails for only $9.99 and can be purchased on Sunflower's website!

For more information on Washy Squashy and Sunfeather, you can also visit them on Facebook or Twitter.


tot school - 16 months

I think this was Ethan's favorite week of Tot School yet. I've been feeling a bit frazzled and overwhelmed lately so Ethan and I took the week off from classes and plans and doing much of anything. It was a good week to choose to take off from life because he was so excited about this week's Tot School activities. We spent so much time in Tot School this week that we even ate lunch at his table a few times so he didn't have to break away from his precious Tot Trays. Of course, by Friday he was starting to get bored with the trays and finding new ways to use them, like hiding them underneath stuffed animals or trying to flush them down the toilet. Good times.


From Top:
1. Bean Bag Toss Activity - I gave Ethan a few bean bags and he got to toss them into the bin. He was excited about this from the beginning but had a hard time making all of his shots into the bin. Some went next to, some went behind, some fell a little short. By the second day, he was getting them all in the bin and was super excited about this. By the third day, he was over the thrill of getting them all into the bin and proceeded to walk around the house tossing the bean bags in whatever else he could find.
2. Pouch Top Push-In - Nicole had done this activity with her little boy and he loved it. I couldn't wait to do this one with Ethan. A friend gave me a bunch of pouch tops and we cut a hole into the lid of an old deli soup container. Ethan was obsessed with this activity. This has been his favorite activity so far. Pushing the tops into the container entertained him for a ridiculous period of time and he laughed each time he popped one of the tops in.
3. Parmesan Cheese Straw Sorter - I cut a couple of straws into smaller pieces and put them on a tray with some thin craft sticks for variety. I found an old Parmesan cheese container in our refrigerator that expired, uh, close to the time Ethan was born which, for once, made it pretty exciting that I'm probably a semi-hoarder. Ethan's job was to put the straws and craft sticks into the holes in the Parmesan cheese container. He had a little bit of difficulty at first in the sense that when the container sat on the table, it was too high for him to see the top of. I held the container for him to sort the straws and sticks into and then he realized if he sat on the floor, this activity was way easier. He loved this one. By Friday, he got bored and was trying to find other things to stick into the holes.
4. Stringing Activity - This was Ethan's least favorite activity this week. I think he found it a bit difficult and would get frustrated with it and he also loved the other three so much that his lack of enthusiasm with this one was even more apparent. I'm going to save it for a couple of weeks down the road. I cut up some old toilet paper rolls into rings and put them on a tray with a few different stringing options: a strand of plastic beads I cut, a shoelace, a ribbon. The shoelace was too long for him to deal with and drove him nuts. He wasn't interested in the ribbon once he discovered the shiny, fun beads. He mostly tried stringing with the beads and got it a couple of times, but then the rolls would fall off the other end. This frustrated him. Eventually he found out if he slapped the bead strand against the table, it made music he could dance to. This was about the only thing he liked with this activity.

This week he was really into looking out the window and putting the weather up on the weather wall. I think these were two different revelations, though -- he discovered he loved looking out the window on a day where it was particularly windy and the trees were blowing outside and he discovered velcro. He had some fun mixing up the t-shirts and the weather wall, but I was glad he was more into it this week than the others.


We had a lot of fun with arts and crafts this week. We used markers and paints this week. It took Ethan a while to warm up to paint because he really hates having a mess on his hands but he did great and really seemed to enjoy it this week!

We still have Ethan's fall tree from last week up on the art wall, but I wanted to keep it because our theme for our artwork this week was fall leaves.

We made a fall tree using Ethan's handprints by dipping his hand into "fall colored" paint and then we used leaves as stamps to make a painting of fall leaves, too. This was Ethan's favorite activity. Here in South Florida, we don't get "fall leaves," but we did notice a pile of dried leaves while at the park the other morning so we collected some and brought them home to dip into paint.

I also found this mask for $0.50 at a dollar store so we brought it home to decorate. Ethan used markers to decorate it. What an artist. ;)


This week we read (...and re-read, and re-read, and re-read...) the following books, all selected by Ethan:

1. Chip Wants A Dog by William Wegman
2. Llama Llama Wakey Wake by Anna Dewdney
3. Chamelia by Ethan Long
4. Corduroy by Don Freeman
5. The Story Of Thanksgiving by Nancy J. Skarmeas
6. Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson
7. Moo, Baa, La La La by Sandra Boynton
8. Muddypaws by Moira Butterfield
9. Elmo Says by Sarah Albee
10. Look Look by Peter Linenthal
11. Where's Spot? by Eric Hill
12. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst
13. Little Spider by Chronicle Books

Tot School Montessori Monday

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