let the poets cry themselves to sleep and all their tearful words could turn back into steam

Last night, I got my first tattoo. I know. I know. I entered through the doors of the tattoo gallery while my phone buzzed, beeped and overloaded with text messages from friends who couldn't believe what my Facebook check-in meant, as certainly I couldn't be getting a tattoo. There were other guesses, such as the fact perhaps I was considering a piercing or even that I was accompanying my husband to get a tattoo. Anything, even the concept that I was shoved inside a van by nameless bandits and forced to get a tattoo against my will apparently seemed more believable to those closest to me than the idea that I was actually really getting a tattoo. It's not that there is anything wrong with tattoos (as long as you don't ask my mother her thoughts on the matter, that is), it's just that I am the girl who literally cannot put her own earrings in because I'm too squeamish. I am the girl who cannot have blood drawn routinely without the aid of a minimum of four nurses, the girl who cannot even tolerate that brief moment when you have to rinse your mouth and potentially spit blood at the dentist, the girl who has to be put on enough Xanax to stop a charging rhino for something as minor as a yearly gynecological exam. (Those are all true examples. I will sit here and accept the side-eye you're giving me.) When I gave birth to Ethan, through Cesarian at that, everyone who knew me had one concern: that I'd insist that baby stayed in my belly forever because he was no way, no how coming out through surgery. Yet, life happens and the doctors sliced me open and yanked out a supposedly premature 8 pound, 4 ounce bundle of sweet, screaming joy while everyone applauded my bravery and then nodded sympathetically as I handled recovery as poorly as they all assumed I would.

But last night I stood in that lobby and filled out paperwork for the appointment I'd giddily-albeit-nervously set for myself weeks upon weeks ago. The minutes felt like hours as I tried to steady my shaking hand until they called my name. When it was my turn, I nervously handed my husband the camera and sat in the chair with all of the reckless abandon I could muster. My dad didn't understand my decision -- then again, he spent the late '90's convinced Hanson were hippie-haired hellraisers in all their prepubescent MMMBop glory -- but he came with, a vacantly apprehensive look on his face as he played on his phone. One of my best friends, Nea, stayed at home with sleeping Ethan during my appointment, also rich with the disbelief that I'd ever go through with this. I had handed my amazing tattoo artist a sheet with about fifteen different examples, mostly the same bird, some with differences so minor my husband couldn't point them out: tails bent just a little too much this way, feet not exactly cute enough. Within a few minutes, my tattoo artist sketched me an example so beautiful that I couldn't believe it was really there on paper, a perfect conglomerate of things I loved about each separate bird all rolled up into one. It was perfect. It was everything I dreamed of during the moments when I first held Ethan in my arms, when the idea of this tattoo first popped into my head and just wouldn't leave. If I still want this in a year, I wrote in my paper journal that I keep in my nightstand, I will do it. One year. One year passed, my desire for the tattoo still rampant but nerves weighing it down. It was one slightly chilly evening a few weeks ago that my husband, Ethan and I took a walk around our neighborhood and I realized I'd been constantly giving into fear for the duration of my life. My heart hurt with un-quenched want for this tattoo and so the appointment was made. And last night, the appointment had arrived.

People ask why a yellow bird? Those who have been to our home or are familiar with this blog are quick to point out that they've heard that before, homage to a yellow bird. I've written it several times on this blog and there are subtle references throughout Ethan's nursery. I have grown up on the music of Bright Eyes (this very blog's title should be apparent enough, as it hails from a Bright Eyes song) and have always found a way for those lyrics to seep inside my soul and speak to me. There was one in particular that pushed it's way into my heart like wildfire, exploding into my very soul both the moment I realized I was pregnant with Ethan and the moment he was placed in my arms that first time:

I had struggled with a strange sensation that my life was solely transitional for some time preceding Ethan's conception. It was in an awkward place of missing something and not knowing what, of knowing yourself but not really, of desperately wanting to find out what is next because there was something beautiful out there waiting for you and you just knew it but didn't know what.

And then there he was.

Worth the wanting. Worth the hurting. Worth the pain of recovery. Much like the tattoo.

There's comfort in knowing that Ethan will always be with me, always. A part of him and a part of me. My world truly began the day that he took his first breaths, a screaming sound that sounded so beautiful in contrast to the warnings I had received about what could have happened given the fact he was four weeks early. No matter how stressful a day has been or how filthy my floors are or how large the laundry pile is or how many times I've had to say things like please stop putting your face in the cat's drinking fountain, there aren't nights where I don't step back and try to wrap my mind around the fact that this is it, this is my life. One I never thought could be possible...and then came my yellow bird, that steamy June evening almost two years ago, screaming his way into this world and truly beginning mine.


big city moms biggest baby shower, miami

Last night, my friend and fellow blogger Melissa from The Eyes of a Boy and I were lucky enough to be able to attend the Big City Moms Biggest Baby Shower during their Miami stop!

I've been anxiously awaiting this event despite the fact Ethan is 19 months old and I am in no way, shape or form even near considering the arrival of another sweet, cherubic infant in the foreseeable future because, well, baby stuff just rules. I think the only thing more fantastic than being able to browse all of the crazily awesome baby gear (that has somehow advanced by leaps and bounds even since I was pregnant with Ethan) with awe and aww would be being able to interact with vendors from companies of whom I am a huge fan. Melissa and I were able to learn about some pretty incredible companies and products, meet some fabulous people and enjoy some delicious food and "mocktails" (I just learned that word yesterday. Am I living under a rock or what?). It was a great night finalized by Melissa winning a Beco carrier -- totally cool, right?!

The first thing we did was grab a delicious "mocktail" (now that I learned it, I'm totally going to wear it out) and a great bag from the folks at The Bump. It feels like it was just yesterday I had initially signed up with them after a positive pregnancy test and I still rely on their weekly toddler updates to ensure me that Ethan is on par to where he's supposed to be and as awesome as I think he is.

First up, was the Pediped table, which I was can't-contain-myself excited about from first glance.

Sitting on the table in front of Pediped's so very awesome marketing associate, Kelly, is an assortment of some of Pediped's supportive-as-they-are-adorable shoes. I'm a total barefoot hippie and am steadily raising Ethan to be the same so what I admire most about Pediped is that their shoes are the closest thing to bare feet. The natural, top of the line arch support they provide is out of this world. When Kelly showed me a pair of their newest toddler shoes with memory foam inside, I was in baby shoe heaven.

Next up was another vendor I was excited to meet: Babyganics! We've been using Babyganics products for all our sanitizing and cleaning needs since Ethan was born and, not to mention, their wipes are the only wipes (ever!) I will let go near Ethan, even for something as quick and seemingly harmless as a hand wipe-off. Their gentle products with safe and efficient ingredients are fabulous cleansers, even at removing some pretty harsh stains (I am the mom who lets my kid run his matchbox cars through a vat of coffee grounds and cocoa powder, so it's totally cool if you take my word on this one).

One of the vendors I was most excited for was Happy Family! Ethan has essentially grown up on their products (insert nostalgic memories of infant Ethan only being able to tolerate grocery shopping if he could share the cart with containers of Happy Baby puffs!) and still to this day enjoys their fruit puree pouches (fruit pops, anyone?) as a quick snack. It was awesome to meet Happy Mama Keymia and get a glimpse at some of Happy Family's newest products geared for toddlers!

As I mentioned, Melissa won a Beco baby carrier in one of the raffles! Beco carriers are awesome and so was their display at the Biggest Baby Shower last night!

If there's one familiar and constant name in the stroller and baby product industry, it's Maclaren. Maclaren had some amazing stroller accessories and other goodies on display -- plus some really awesome raffles going on (free stroller, anyone?!). In a sheer coincidence, it also turns out that Maclaren's marketing representative and I went to middle school together many, many years go. Small world, big baby shower.

When it comes to baby carriers, Ergo is my go-to and my admitted favorite. Can we discuss how absolutely adorable this black-and-silver star pattern is?!

While on the Ergobaby floor, we got the chance to meet with Orbitbaby and test run some strollers. I know I keep saying no new babies in my future, but that doesn't mean that testing out double strollers isn't fun. Melissa and I had a blast giving Orbit's amazing double stroller a test run. The stroller was absolutely gorgeous and extremely streamlined, which I imagine is vital in a double stroller (some of them are like buses!). Orbit's marketing rep was too, too sweet (and I'm not saying that only because she assured us it was no big deal Melissa steered the stroller right into some guy!).

After taking a break for some latkes -- this Jewish girl was in latkes-with-applesauce-and-sour-cream heaven -- we continued on through the ballroom to gawk at all of the great displays. Project Nursery had an exquisite set-up!

Another vendor I was ecstatic to mingle with was Joovy. I've been admiring their Room2 for travel purposes for so long now that I couldn't wait to check it out in person and discuss the features with their representative. As it turned out, we were flooded with information on great, new products from Joovy and introduced to their fabulous representative, Pam, who let us in on a sneak peak for Joovy's new bottle called...wait for it...Boob. Love it.

Joovy's new Boob bottle is pretty epic. Though bottle-shopping is a thing of our past, I'm always saying how I absolutely refuse to go for plastic bottles again with any future children. Of course, I tried glass while Ethan was an infant and, well, let's just say those shards have long since been vacuumed up and tossed away. What makes the Boob bottle truly neat is that it's made of a special plastic called PPSU which does not absorb odor or color. It's a medical-grade plastic that is even packaged under utmost care. While I was trying to wrap my mind around the sheer epicness of the Boob, Pam also showed me Joovy's Moon Room which just about outdid any super-duper high expectations I already had. How absolutely fantastic is the Moon Room?!

Though you pretty much had to pry Melissa and I away from the Joovy display, we did manage to snap a final picture of us with Pam and our Boobs. (Yeah, I'm like a 12-year-old. I had to go there.)

Another one of my favorite displays was the Quinny and Maxi-Cosi display. Their representatives were knowledgeable and absolutely loved every bit of their products -- and so did I.

It was love at first sight for me with Quinny's Moodd by Britto stroller. It is described by Quinny as "majestic" and it truly is, every last bit of it. I sat there staring at it while angels sang and imagined how dapper Ethan would look, cruising and strolling under the shade of the too, too cute little umbrella. One touch automatic unfolding? Use from birth through 50 pounds? Love it. It's also compatible with Maxi-Cosi's plush, comfortable Mico and Prezi infant seats. I've already decided in the event I have another infant (like how many times I've said that despite having begun this post with the bottom-line that nothing of the sort is in my near future?), they'll be snuggled up safely for travel in Maxi Cosi's Prezi.

Another great vendor that fell steafast into the why didn't I know about this before I had Ethan? category were Daddy Scrubs. Though their New Daddy scrubs are pretty much the greatest, they also have a whole slew of gifts for the dad-to-be and new dad, from t-shirts to the all-too-hilarious Daddy's Diaper Changing Toolbox.

We got to watch another neat double stroller demo by Phil & Ted's sweet rep and, really guys, I'm just in awe at how intricate these double strollers are! There's definitely a style for everybody. Phil & Ted's double stroller was another gorgeous one!

Ella's Kitchen's motto is "good in every sense" and their rep Erika's motto should totally be "fantastic in every sense." She was a wealth of knowledge on the products that Ella's Kitchen creates and even sent me home with a fun shaker for Ethan. (Kid loves his musical instruments!) She also sent me home with some of Ella's Kitchen's natural teething cookies which Ethan happily taste tested and devoured this afternoon as he un-cleaned the house in my wake as I attempted to tidy. For all of you mamas to littler ones, keep an eye on Melissa's blog for a potential Ella's Kitchen review and giveaway (er, spoiler alert?).

We also had the chance to meet the ladies of Bibbitec who will be appearing on an episode of Shark Tank this week. Their product is extremely cool and they had me convinced during their demo. If maple syrup can wipe straight off their bibs (which can also be used as smocks in bigger kids) without a single bit of residue leftover, I imagine these would have been pretty handy during the days of beginning solids. Which isn't to say Ethan doesn't eat like a total slob despite the fact he mostly has a grasp on using his utensils but, you know, those days of wiping up green bean puree are still fresh in my mind. These would be fantastic smocks for art projects for bigger toddlers and children, too!

Melissa and I finished the evening off with massive quantities of cotton candy and an apology to our Stroller Strides instructor (Hi, Silvia! We love you!) who is out on maternity leave and can't beat us up too badly right now.

I would also like to extend a huge thank-you to Robin Diamond, PR and marketing goddess who made this whole thing possible. Thank you for everything, Robin! Melissa and I had a blast!


january cara box reveal

If you're unfamiliar with Cara Box, it is a monthly package exchange created by Kaitlyn at Wifessionals to spread encouragement all year 'round! You can choose to participate on a month-by-month basis and are assigned a blogger to get to know and send a package to, based on the certain monthly theme. A different blogger altogether will be assigned to send you a package so, really, you get to make two new blogger friends each month! To read more about Cara Box and how to sign up, click here!

This month, the January Cara Box theme was resolutions. I had a blast getting to know Erica of Looking To The Stars, who I got to send a package to, as well as Jenn at Finding My Sunshine In Life, who sent Ethan and I such a wonderful January Cara Box!

Our box from Jenn arrived on the day when Ethan was so! very! sick! and our day was quite dismal. As soon as Ethan saw it sitting on the doorstep after we returned home from a doctor visit, he was so excited to open it with me! It was just about the most thoughtful package I could ever imagine receiving and Jenn sure was paying attention to my resolutions -- she took care of them all!

Jenn included this box of Lifesavers just because and I have to say, they truly were lifesavers after such a day!

The second thing Ethan pulled out of the box (since, really, there was no stopping him!) was the nicest note of encouragement from Jenn. In her note, she said probably the most touching words anyone could say to me ever, but especially in that moment after I'd finished sobbing my eyes out about more breathing treatments and doctor's appointments and feeling utterly wrecked:

Really, there are no more words more beautiful than those to be received by a mother. How sweet is Jenn?! She made my day (and trust me, that day was hard to make).

I had mentioned to Jenn that one of my resolutions was to pay just a little bit more attention to myself to truly feel good about myself without feeling guilty. I had mentioned to her that it'd been well over a year since I last painted my nails, as an example, and she thoughtfully included three beautiful nail polishes! Two of the colors were called Sea and Air, which made me think of the beach (Ethan and my favorite place in the whole world!) and were just so pretty. She also included a darker purple shade which I'm going to use tonight.

I had also mentioned to Jenn that one of my resolutions was to read more and so she included this beautiful handmade bookmark! I had to read her note three times over to ensure it was really handmade because, well, I can't believe something that beautiful was able to be created by someone! Talk about skill! I was gifted some wonderful new books for my birthday and am looking forward to making progress in them and seeing Jenn's beautiful bookmark holding the pages for me!

I had also mentioned that I truly needed to get more organized, especially when it came to grocery lists and meal planning, and so Jenn sent me a wonderful notepad that attaches to the refrigerator to help me out there! Next time I run out of something or have a recipe idea, all I have to do is jot it down! The coffee was a nice touch because, well, I live on coffee. Chocolate coffee?! Jenn is too, too kind.

Jenn also included a stack of goodies for Ethan for Tot School. You have no idea how much this warmed my heart! I love all things Tot School and it was just so nice for Jenn to acknowledge that and send us some goodies for our classroom. As I mentioned above, they couldn't have come at a more perfect time! Ethan immediately pried open the stickers -- the first time I saw him smile all day -- and went to work making art. The little colored bags are going to be just perfect for an upcoming color-matching activity I have planned!

Another huge, huge thank you to Jenn at Finding My Sunshine In Life for our amazing January Cara Box!

Want to see what other bloggers got in their Cara Box this month? Head on over to this post -- there's a link-up at the bottom!

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