My brain is taken over by thoughts of "Ethan is almost two" and "must. prepare. party!" One of the birthday traditions that I'm working on implementing is a yearly birthday interview. I'll ask the same questions each year until Ethan is a teenager and tells me he hates me and I'm ruining his life as a token response to each question and it (with the inevitable teenage angst included) will be a sweet collection to look back on when he's all grown up. Today I asked Ethan what his favorite memory from the past year was and he stared at me blankly. "What was your favorite thing that you did or saw this year," I clarified. His face lit up, he threw his arms up in the air and exclaimed "tot school!" It was kind of a proud mommy moment (okay, not going to lie, I was beaming) but that's all you get right now. Ethan's epic two-year interview in it's entirety cannot be spoiled before it's unveiling at his birthday party.

Ethan has been asking to visit the pet store every afternoon. He calls it "the zoo" and passerby laugh and think he's being naively adorable, but I'm totally guilty of referring to the pet store as "the free zoo" and that's where he gets it from. Yesterday afternoon we held hands into the pet store and as the electronic doors opened he yelled "THE ZOO!" A woman also walking in with her small dog began to giggle, tousled his hair and said "bless his heart." I wince each time with the fear he's going to call it "the free zoo" and it's going to go from something sweet and endearing to Ethan becoming a quick source of pity.

The other day I was changing Ethan's diaper and applying his diaper balm. "More butt cream," he said and I laughed just because it was hilarious and I was unaware the term "butt cream" was in his vocabulary.

The other day Green Day's "Time Of Your Life" came on the radio and Ethan squealed and said "Bibby Joe! Bibby Joe noise!" Cue another thing I had no idea he knew (both the song and Billie Joe Armstrong's name. These kids are like sponges, I tell you).

Ethan has begun asking for pasta at every meal. I finally asked him why all he wanted to eat was pasta and he said "Ethan make mess. Ethan like mess. More pasta!" And it appears this is all true, the love of mess, which is a little bit reassuring because for a while he was channeling his daddy in the sense nothing could possibly be dirty. (This made outings at the park generally unpleasant, especially after a big rain. Now, he jumps in the puddles while shouting "MORE MESS!" as mud flies onto his clothing.)

"Night night" time has generally been a breeze and while I don't want to jinx it, I feel like twenty months of poor sleeping habits that have seemed to magically fix themselves has earned me a little bit of a right to boast. It's scary how easy bedtime and naptime are both these days and my favorite part of them both is scooping Ethan up when he wakes up, all snuggly and warm, and listening to him describe his dreams -- which almost always involve ice-cream cones.

Since I moved back home after college, my dad and I had the morning tradition of an 8:00 a.m. Starbucks date. Having Ethan suddenly discover he loves sleeping, I've had to miss more of these days lately than I've liked (and when I need them the most -- oh, the irony!). The past few mornings, my dad has hand-delivered me my latte while Ethan and I are outside feeding the ducks (his new favorite morning ritual). This morning Ethan pointed to my latte and said "mommy coffee. 'Bucks. Mommy, grandpa coffee, 'Bucks."

We have been working hard at please, thank you and I'm sorry. Yesterday during Ethan's haircut, he was an absolute terror. We had practiced over and over with him being polite and patient during his haircut and at first he was, until we sat in the chair. (This is all an onset of turning two, as Ethan was the former Haircut Pro up until now.) Once we got into the car and told him I wasn't very happy with how he wasn't being nice to Mark during his haircut, he sat quietly for a few minutes and then said, "Sorry, Mark. Ethan cookie?" It's, like, impossible to stay mad at this little guy.


world ocean day at the museum of discovery and science

Heads up, South Floridians! On June 8th-9th, you'll be able to catch the World Oceans Day celebration at the Museum of Discovery and Science in Fort Lauderdale! The ocean is such a huge part of our lives living down here in South Florida, but I'm excited for Ethan to truly learn hands-on how important the ocean really is!

Ethan and I absolutely can't wait to check out this amazing celebration of the worlds oceans! (And you bet we'll be wearing blue!) For more information, call the museum at (954) 713-0930 or visit mods.org.

almost, but not quite, but almost two.

Ethan had his hair cut this early afternoon. This wasn't his first, or second or third (or fourth or fifth) or even tenth, as this little man has had his hair cut likely more than I have. We had been putting off this particular haircut because his hair grows so quickly, and grows out so unruly and thick, and we didn't want him looking like a deranged mess of a child for his two year pictures. It wasn't until I went to snap a photo of Ethan in Target to send to my husband so we could later laugh about the fact Ethan was eating a scone -- the random food item he somehow knows to ask for whenever he sees a Starbucks, always managing to make me laugh because I'm still not sure how he knew what a scone was and because it's a little funny when your child is begging for a scone after My Gym, at the park, after naptime, like it's the most routine and normal thing in the world. Once I snapped the photo, I realized the focus most definitely wasn't on Ethan's smile after having a blueberry scone placed in his hands. That hair? Yeah. That had to go. It was a little scary.

So I lamented a little more about his two year pictures and hoped his hair would take it's time to come in this time. And then, this morning, he had his (very much needed) haircut. And then suddenly I realized the impact of the whole two year pictures thing because, you guys? My little baby is really a big boy and he's almost two.

As soon as we walked back into our house after returning from the hair salon, I noticed it, the transition from baby to big boy. Suddenly I realized that these were two year pictures we were talking about, that we were weeks away from his second birthday. And suddenly everything he did seemed older, felt older than they did this morning. This morning, we went to ride the choo-choo trains in the mall that used to be a dollar, but now they're two dollars a ride. "I remember when they were a quarter," I grumbled, feeling old and disgruntled and making sure no one other than Ethan was there to hear my lamenting. The woman running the trains told me I could ride with him still until he turns two. "We still have a few weeks to go," I smiled, climbing into the yellow train with Ethan. It wasn't until after his haircut, after I watched this big boy playing in our backyard that I realized we only have a few more weeks to go. He's almost two. He can almost ride the choo-choo trains himself and, now that I think about it, he already hopped into the train without waiting for me to pull him onto my lap like he used to. Cue a little meltdown of sorts and the high probability Ethan and I will now ride the trains every single morning, as many rides as he wants, as many times as we can before he's a big boy and can ride without his mommy. I am so not ready for that moment.

So, you know, Ethan had his haircut and readied himself for his two year pictures and I'm clinging to time and pleading for a little more of it. After all, there's no way we're two days away from his birthday month. There's just no way he's almost two.



memorial day barbecue snapshots

I have found that I've been bringing my actual camera out less and less lately, since the addition of an iPhone into our everyday lives. I equal parts hate this realization -- you know, something about selling out, or something -- and willingly accepting defeat. After all, when you're lugging a thirty-five pound toddler who feels that I may change my mind about having to leave the park if he screams and flails with all of his might, it's easier to shove a phone in your pocket rather than juggle a camera in the mix, too.

Hazelnut cake frosted with nutella

The only way the teenager wishes to be photographed these days

My husband returned back to work today after nearly a week off. It's a little strange to not have him here this morning and I was half-expecting Ethan to react poorly to the realization that daddy once again had to walk out the door and disappear for ten hours but he handled it with grace and ease. It's funny, really, as temperamental and oftentimes irrational that toddlers can be, they're pretty great at skipping the whole awkward-transition thing. Like nothing had been different in recent days, Ethan and I sunk back into our standard morning routine: an hour of tot school, a trip to the park, lunchtime with extra peanut butter on his peanut butter sandwich.

Today has been a good day, even with the rain and humidity and the mud stains on the soles of little shoes. We made chocolate pudding and tried on silly hats at Target and pretended like the clouds weren't gray and thunder wasn't rolling up in the dim, dark sky. My heart feels so very full today.


tot school - letter f - 23 months

F week ran a little long. My husband had a bunch of consecutive days off work for our little trip and the holiday weekend so I knew it would be hard to keep a focus on tot school if I changed things up. I was a little nervous going into this week after the flop that was E week but, to my surprise (isn't it always?), F week was awesome! Ethan really enjoyed all of our activities this week and things just went a whole lot smoother. It feels good to be back!


The point of this tray was for Ethan to place the facial features in their correct position on the face. I ran out of laminating sheets so I was worried it'd be a little hard to pick up the smaller pieces, like the eyebrows, but Ethan handled it beautifully. He really loved making faces over and over and over again!


I had a bag of feathers on hand (yeah, random!) so I thought it would be fun to use them. I scattered them on a larger tray and Ethan's job was to sweep them onto the space marked "feathers." This was his least favorite of all the trays this week, as the sweeping activities usually are, but he still enjoyed it enough and asked to repeat it a few times over the week.


The sensory bin was kind of lame in the sense it was filled with firetrucks and frogs. Oh, and a couple of fish here and there. I felt like I was scrambling to fill it since it completely slipped my mind. Ethan just kind of pulled everything out, glanced at it all and tossed it aside.


Oh man, Ethan loved this one. I had filled a little fish bowl with some blue paper "water" and used construction paper backing to get little frog print-outs to stand. Ethan has really been into mastering these tongs lately so he was able to try to place the frogs into the frog pond where they were trying to go. He thought this was the funniest activity ever. By the end, he was really doing great with the tongs!


For this one, I printed out some fish and labeled them with either a capital or lowercase F. I took two stirrers and turned them into fishing rods using magnets -- one marked with F, one marked with f. Ethan's job was to use the F rod to pick up the F fish and use the f rod to pick up the f fish. He figured it out quickly and did this several times correctly before deciding it was just fun to use one fishing rod and catch all of the fish.


I had some oven bake clay on hand, so Ethan and I made some fish out of clay! We painted them when they were dry and now they're sitting in an empty fish bowl on our tot school shelf. So cute! I loved this activity because as I was making my two fish, Ethan was observing how to mush the clay and was so proud of the three fish he made! I think he did an excellent job!

We also made a bunch of other art this week, painting and coloring in his coloring books he finally has a huge interest in.

I love that now Ethan has begun to draw things and tell me what he's drawing. He's done this in the past, but mostly a recounting of something that actually happened -- as in, he'd tell me that he was drawing a picture of him at the beach after we came home from the beach, or a picture of Aunt Megan dancing after her recital. This was the first time he was making up these random scenarios -- like daddy hanging out with Abby Cadaby -- and drawing them. It was so cute to watch!


As usual, Ethan really loved his music station this week. We listened to Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons in honor of F week and Ethan had a blast jamming along with his musical instruments.


Tot School Montessori MondayI Can Teach My Child

No Time For Flash CardsFor the Kids Friday




I want a big family.
This likely comes as a surprise due to the razor sharp shut-down I give anyone who asks when I'm planning on my next child. My husband wants two children and I feel little pieces of my heart deteriorate at the thought of any less than three. At times, I'm a little bitter that the roots of a large family were never planted in my family. I see photographs of families with sisters, brothers, cousins, grandparents and my heart tingles a little bit with a sort of longing, of so badly wanting that. Wanting to enter a room filled with siblings and letting our children -- cousins! -- play together, grow together, leave off to college together or raise their own children together. Wanting to experience even the fiercest sibling rivalry and tearing through rooms and belongings, trying to find the CD or sweater I've accused a sibling of taking without permission. These are things that I see on television, in the lives of friends, and I know that I want that. They're foreign to me. The uproarious laughter and holidays filled loved ones. These are things I want for Ethan, for any future children, to always have that companionship that I imagine is completely invaluable.

I was almost eleven when my only sister was born and though she has been the center of my universe since that hot September day she was born into this world, it has always felt more of a maternal love. I went away to college and kissed my sister goodbye in her elementary school cafeteria, and I spent those initially overwhelming years sending letters home about Webkinz and Lizzie McGuire. It was always my goal to shield her from hurt, as a mother would. The struggles, the hard times, the good times -- these weren't times I was able to share with her, a child, tucked into sleep with her lullabies and stuffed animals. For a long time, I had insisted my own children would be eleven years apart. After all, my sister and I are the closest of any siblings I had ever met and I wanted that love, that closeness, for my children. But then I got married and I had a baby and my sister had teenage apathy and as I dived deep into this new turning point in my life, she stepped into the halls of high school for the first time. I couldn't remember what those years were like. She couldn't imagine what having a baby was like. I wanted her to experience the joy on Ethan's face as he ran across his favorite playground. She wanted me to experience the joy she feels sitting in front of Instagram, liking photos of celebrities that I've never even heard of. And while my love for her -- and Ethan's, as she's the center of his world these days -- only continues to deepen with each day that passes, it's different; it's a maternal love, a protective love; it's knowing Ethan will never have cousins to grow with.

I really want a big family. I want my children to have cousins. I want to throw parties and host sleepovers and know in my heart that my children will always have friends because they were born into a large family. I want my children to call one another and rant about me when I'm being unreasonable. I want them to have one another to learn on when I'm old and frail. I want them to always have someone in their corner, even though I know it's not a guarantee that siblings end up liking one another at all. That's a risk I'm willing to take.

And then there's practicality. We don't have the room in our house, the modest square footage already closing in on us. A move, an upgrade -- these aren't really options when you live in one of the highest real estate markets in the country. And relocation is out of the question when you struggle here because this is the world you want to give your children, these are the schools and the culture and the opportunities you want your children to be raised in. It's like one big circle my mind keeps running in. Or the fact that my body is as un-ready to handle an abundance of c-sections as our bank account is. Or the fact that adoption is expensive and the little bits of hurt in my heart that this might never be a reality for us as I had always hoped it would be. Or, you know, the blistering fact that my husband appears to truly only want two children and the fact I can't think about that without tears welling in my eyes despite the fact that I won't even tolerate discussion of a second at this point. I'm selfish. I love laying on the floor with Ethan in a puddle of laughter and focusing on nothing other than the way his eyes light up as we explore every inch of this town without any other thought on our mind. I'm not ready to sacrifice that yet, to share my attention, to change a thing about our day-to-day schedule, our day-to-day adventures, our sporadic before-dinnertime trips to the skatepark that we rush home from just in time to get dinner on the table. I'm also selfless, knowing my risks of future bedrest are high and I'm willing to wait on the family I so badly want to ensure that Ethan always has his mommy. Every pregnancy is different is true, but it is not guaranteed. It is not enough for me to risk what I have with Ethan, my health, my place in his life -- not now.

I spent the duration of this humid Sunday up to my elbows in epoxy and thrift store candlesticks, in scissors and glue and paint and all of the makings for Ethan's second birthday party preparation. As I cut, glued, stirred, planned to the thought of my sweet boy's face when he sees his Curious George party all put together for the first time, I felt it. The loneliness of a small family. The weird feeling when your mother is both a grandmother and also the mother to a teenager who won't stop texting you photographs of hip-hop artists you have less than no interest in. Really, truly, loving your family and feeling so fortunate to be a part of your family but wishing you had that ally, wishing you had someone to -- and I'm aware this sounds so absolutely silly -- Pinterest with. It's not that I would change a thing about my life or offer my parents the criticism that I thought they did things wrong, it's just that I want to do certain things differently for Ethan. But that's where my mind kind of blanks, because right now I'm just mentally running in circles.

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