i'm waiting to give you whatever the world may bring

It's the last day of 2012. My neighbors are setting off fireworks of some kind, small ones, ones that go pop-pop-pop sporadically every few minutes to fully ensure that no toddlers under this roof are sleeping soundly tonight. In between the bangs and booms and cracks coming from outside our windows, I let Ethan's soft lullabies soothe my mind. They're playing softly in his room, the gentle sound permeating through the house and down the hallway just loud enough to capture my attention and make me long for my own bed.

I had big plans to recapture the essence of 2012 here on this blog if not for my own pleasure, a summary of the year's highest and lowest moments. I thought about this, planned for this, bookmarked posts that I wanted to remember to focus on but instead I shut my computer down and spent the cool, breezy afternoon outside with Ethan. He woke up from his nap in mismatched pajamas, bringing me his new shoes and pointing towards the back door. My parents had gotten Ethan a swingset for our backyard for Christmas and it's been love at first sight for Ethan and strangely for me, too, as a place to enjoy the mild Florida winter under a crisp blue sky and the unfamiliar but welcomed breeze. We've been losing ourselves for hours outside each afternoon but something about his mismatched pajamas, his high-top sneakers, his unruly golden waves held together by stale applesauce just screamed hold onto these moments forever as they are fleeting and so we did.

But still, the fact remains that last year we rang in 2012 with this cherubic little baby...

...and now I spend my days chasing around a toddler -- a little boy -- with opinions and the uncanny ability to climb up a dangerously tall slide. How so much has changed right under our noses, even when it feels like things have been the way they are for so long. They haven't. Each new day brings something new, a new milestone, something different and so much more than the day before. For that, I want to point out my most memorable milestones from 2012, like Ethan's first taste of solid foods or how my husband and I celebrated ten years together in January. 2012 held first swimming lessons and first Stroller Strides classes. It held first haircuts and trying to come to terms with Ethan's respiratory issues. We discovered the beauty of salt therapy, celebrated my first mother's day as a mother, discovered my son's uncontrollable love for music and Ethan's first dentist visit. We celebrated our third wedding anniversary and that amazing day Ethan's Celiac test came back negative. 2012 was the year where Ethan turned 1 and celebrated both with a cold and by snuggling a monkey. Shortly after came one of my favorite moments of the year...

...Ethan's barnyard 1st birthday bash, of course!

A little over a month after Ethan turned one, 2012 saw his first steps and in turn, his first shoes. I did many things I was proud of, including participating in a 24-hour blog-a-thon for charity and saying goodbye to any fear or insecurity in my life, truly finding myself as a mother and woman. We truly soaked in every moment of 2012's scorching hot summer, including finding our niche with an amazing group of friends. My little sister turned sweet sixteen -- which makes me really old. Ethan and I began doing tot school and I began documenting his healthy toddler meals. We encountered some purely mean members of humanity, survived Ethan's first ER trip and spent a huge chunk of the year trying to fight -- more like all-out brawl -- Ethan's lingering respiratory issues.

But the good always outweighed the bad. There were life's sweet moments, like Ethan's 2nd pumpkin carving and Ethan's 2nd Halloween. We celebrated all we have to be thankful for and spent a peaceful Thanksgiving on the lake. We trudged through sick days and pulled ourselves together for our family portraits. We brought home our Christmas tree, celebrated Ethan's 2nd Hanukkah, had our first date night in over a year and threw Ethan a mega-holiday party and spent December flat-out enjoying a magical holiday season with Ethan.

Ethan's 2nd Christmas went off beautifully and in the days since, I've found myself still wrestling the massive piles of wrapping paper and general post-holiday chaos. It's hard to believe enough days have already passed for us to be hours shy of ringing in the new year.

I've struggled this year with trying to adjust to my husband's demanding work schedule, oftentimes feeling overwhelmed, lonely and defeated at the end of the day and it's my greatest wish for the new year that a resolution to this problem somehow arises because I love my little family and I miss time together with my little family. As 2013 dances on the horizon, I want to make myself a promise to at least attempt to knock it off with the self-doubt and the mom-guilt. Once in a while, I want to acknowledge that I deserve a pat on the back, a high five and a hot bath. Despite the chaos around me -- the piles of laundry and the plates in the sink -- I can only hope 2013 brings me as much love, laughter and magic as 2012 has.

Bring it on, 2013. I'm ready for you.

tot school - 18 months & a special giveaway!

Another great week of tot school down! We're having a great time learning the individual colors so far (click the tot school tab on the right to see all of the past weeks, too!). This week was green week. Well, actually, the last two weeks have been green week. What with the holidays, it took us two weeks to spend the amount of time in tot school we usually do in one week. I'm a little sad about our lack of art projects this week but I blame it on the Christmas chaos. Still, it was definitely a great week!


From Top:
1. Green Sensory Bin - This was probably the easiest to throw together because so many neat things are green! I included a tiny little green gift bag I had found at Wal-Mart a few months ago and Ethan had a blast putting the items from the bin into the bag, especially the ornaments.
2. Green Pom-Pom Sorting - I put some green pom-poms into a green stacking cup and had Ethan sort them onto a bath tub floor gripper turned upside down. The pom-poms fit perfectly in the little suctions. Ethan had a rough time getting them in the suctions and not next to the suctions at first, but he mastered this one quickly.
3. Sweeping Leaves - Ethan loves sweeping, so I thought this would be a fun activity. I got this little grout brush for $1 at Wal-Mart and printed and laminated some green leaves. The objective was to sweep the leaves into the green square. When I called the little grout brush a brush, Ethan got confused and tried to brush his hair with it. ;) I've resorted to calling it a "sweeper" and he's trying to get the hang of it, but he had some difficulty figuring out how to hold the brush.
4. Frog Straw Sorting - I had some green and white striped straws and attached pictures of green frogs to the top. Ethan got to sort these into an old Parmesan cheese shaker bottle.
5. Flipping Shapes - Using a green spatula, Ethan got to flip these shapes over -- the other side had a big smiley face. He had trouble using the spatula and got super frustrated trying to do this activity so I thought I'd try again in another month or so. He did like to flip the shapes using his hands, however.
6. Green Magnet Board - My big mistake was not laminating the green shapes this week. I laminate these each week with the different colors. Bad move. Most of the paper print-outs didn't make it to the middle of the week let alone the end, but Ethan still very much enjoyed putting his magnetic pieces up on the old cookie sheet board.


The TICKLE ME PLANT was a fun edition to our weekly tot school activities! I've been so excited for it to grow so we could try it out. The wonderful people over at Tickle Me Plant sent Ethan and I seeds a few weeks ago and I most definitely planned green week for the moment the Tickle Me Plant would be ready to be tickled!

Alright, this little plant was the coolest. It only took a few days to sprout (confirmation that even I could grow something!) and took about three weeks to reach the point where there were many leaves for Ethan to tickle. We planted ours over Thanksgiving and it seemed each day there was a new development, new leaves to tickle. The planting and growing and watering process has become an everyday part of our daily routines (I even made sure to find a green watering can just for this occasion!) and Ethan was so excited when it was finally time to try it out. I even let him have the first tickle despite the fact I could barely contain my own excitement! When tickled, the leaves move and close up -- you guys, they're ticklish! Ethan couldn't get enough of tickling our Tickle Me Plant this week. He's already learned that the leaves will "recharge" quicker when the plant is placed back up on the windowsill for more sunlight, though he's totally impatient when he wants to get right back to tickling our plant.

For older kids, there is a lot to observe about the Tickle Me Plant, too, like how it seemingly "sleeps" at nighttime and seems to open up with the sun in the mornings. I feel like it's the most ticklish when the sun is the brightest through the windows. So totally cool, right?!

The wonderful people at Tickle Me Plant have offered five -- five! -- of my readers the chance to win Tickle Me Plants of their own. See the bottom of this post to win! If you're interested in buying a Tickle Me Plant of your own, you can do so here -- there are all sorts of great kits available for purchase, including discounts for bulk orders and fundraising possibilities!


In addition to our usual coloring (this week Ethan experienced his first time using glitter glue!), Ethan and I made some musical shakers using different containers and split peas. It was cool to make each shaker and then discover how each container made different sounds.


This week Ethan went a little nuts at the library and checked out a whole lot of books. I had a workout carrying him and two big tote bags of books to the car!

1. The Sea Of Sleep by Warren Hansen
2. What Animals Really Like by Fiona Robinson
3. Park Beat by Jonathan London
4. The Gypsy Princess by Phoebe Gilman
5. Birdsongs by Betsy Franco
6. Millions of Cats by Wanda Ga'g
7. Box Turtle At Long Pond by William T. George
8. The Nine Lives of Rotten Ralph by Jack Gantos
9. Freedom School, Yes! by Amy Littlesugar
10. Scribbles and Ink by Ethan Long
11. Matzohball Soup by Joan Rothenberg
12. Curious George Makes Pancakes by HA Rey
13. Curious George and the Animals by HA Rey
14. Arabella Miller's Tiny Caterpillar by Clare Jarret
15. Dragons Love Tacos by Adam Rubin
16. Roses For Gita by Rachna Gilmore
17. Brown Rabbit In The City by Natalie Russell
18. Mossy by Jan Brett


Green week especially rules because Ethan and I are able to offer five readers the chance to win a Tickle Me Plant of their own! The wonderful people over at Tickle Me Plant truly love what they do and spreading the joy to others and I'm so excited to be able to offer this giveaway! Five winners will be able to win a seed packet to plant your own Tickle Me Plant!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tot School Montessori Monday


whispers, silhouettes and pictures

My sweet Ethan, you are asleep in your bed as I write this, dressed in mismatched pajamas, laying on your back with your right hand holding your hair. This is how you sleep most often now, always your right hand tucked into a lock of your messy, unruly golden waves. Despite the fact you're soundly sleeping just a few doors down a short hallway from where I sit, I see you everywhere. I see you in the stack of books piled up high next to the soft spot on the couch where we sit to read them, in the Curious George books tucked into the cushions. I see you in your pair of shoes you've ever so neatly arranged on top of your ride-on toy before you went to bed, preparing the scene for tomorrow morning's early bout of play. I can almost hear the pitter-patter of your feet running across the tile, your belly laughter erupting as you push your ride-on toy by the handles and watch your shoes fly off. This happens every morning, before or after breakfast depending on how hungry you are when you first roll out of bed.

These quiet nights belong to us and I feel like you know it, that you know how lonely I am when your daddy is still at work and the clock says it's almost tomorrow. These nights happen more than they don't these days and it's hard to keep my heart from weighing down when the nighttime falls and all becomes quiet, noisy silence ringing in my ears over the tune of your lullabies playing over the monitor. You keep the joy in my days, the surprise, the laughter, the life, the love -- all of it. When it's quiet at night, I sit in bed and I miss you, miss your laughter, miss the way you sputter out words as if all the vowels and consonants taste funny as they exit your lips. My sweet little boy, you're everywhere. You never let me feel alone, you never let me feel lonely, you never let me feel sad even when you don't realize it, even when you don't understand the magic in the way you shout mo-mee and throw your arms out towards me. These days I am not always mama but mo-mee, your own way of trying to master mommy and tripping over the intricacies of the word.

This morning we saw your doctor for your 18 month well visit. You checked out beautifully at 30 pounds on the dot and 33 and a half inches tall. We said our goodbyes and your doctor reminded us that this was it, that we wouldn't be back for any more well visits until you were two. It was a strange feeling -- initial sinking meeting nostalgia turned to pride -- to realize that you were too old for baby well-visits and weigh-ins and check-ups and now we had it down, you and I, we made it through the initial chaos of being born and finding our way.

In six months you will be two and I know this to be true not only because of the calendar but because of the little boy you're becoming, the way you know exactly what I'm thinking even before I say it, the way you shout "hand" and hold your hand up above your head for me to hold when we're in the car.

I'll be here to hold your hand forever, my sweet little one. You can always count on that.

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