tot school - alphabet overview: letters a, b, c, d - 33 months

After we wrapped up each individual letter a couple of weeks ago, I thought we'd take a quick run through the alphabet again for a little summary. I decided to do this in little groups of letters and kicked things off with letters A, B, C and D.


Ethan really liked this one. I put some cardstock inside a ridged bowl and attached the letters A, B, C and D. Ethan got to use tweezers to match up each letter. He was really excited about this tray and it was probably the most popular this week. He's definitely mastered the art of the tweezers so we're going to do more with tongs next week. This was a fun one!


I put some different size apples in a bin with some cards in coordinating sizes. Ethan got to line up the cards from smallest to biggest or biggest to smallest (or however he felt like lining them up!) and match up all of the apples in the correct order. This tray was super fun for him until Saturday when he got tired of not eating the apples -- and took bites out of each one instead.


For this one, I had some beehives cut out, each numbered 1-5. Ethan was able to identify each number and then count out the appropriate number of bears. He really enjoyed this activity this week. Usually counting isn't his favorite, but something about the bears and the bees and the honey made it fun for him, I guess! He spent a lot of time doing this tray, all on his own, and was so excited to show off his end results!


I knew going into this one that it'd be a miracle if Ethan kept the cars in tot school more than one day. They made it to two days before he brought them out to play with. Still, this was a fun little tray for him for a couple of days. We lost the black car early on (someone was eager to play with it) but Ethan was crafty and replaced it with a black train. Maybe not a C, but I like the way his mind works.


Ethan really liked the pirate treasure map we made for letter X week, so I did something similar but this time with the letter D. I put 12 letter D's on a page with other letters and included a cup of 12 dimes. Ethan got to place the dimes on the letter D as they appeared. Of course, he quickly decided placing the dimes on the letter O made more sense because of shape and, well, can't argue with his logic. This tray was the miss of the week!


We haven't used the magnet board in a while, so it was fun to bring it out again. I printed some familiar A, B, C, D words and Ethan got to identify the word, what letter they start with, and the other letters in the word. He loves to identify the word ZOO when he sees it written and was really excited about picking out some of these words, too, and practicing the sounds each letter makes.


Tot School Montessori MondayI Can Teach My Child

No Time For Flash CardsFor the Kids Friday


18 week bumpdate.

How far along? 18w1d. I forgot to post my 17 week bumpdate but I'm doing this one on time so that counts for something, right?
Due date: August 30th, 2014
Baby is the size of a... bell pepper!
Baby's development of the week: Per Babycenter: His blood vessels are visible through his thin skin, and his ears are now in their final position, although they're still standing out from his head a bit. A protective covering of myelin is beginning to form around his nerves, a process that will continue for a year after he's born. If you're having a girl, her uterus and fallopian tubes are formed and in place. If you're having a boy, his genitals are noticeable now.
Maternity clothes? Definitely all maternity bottoms, even leggings, and a mixture of shirts. Long enough regular shirts still work but I'm more and more in maternity shirts these days.
Sleep: I had my energy back for a little bit but now I can't get enough sleep. I wake up at least 2 times per night to pee and it's my husband's busy time at work so I have a hard time falling asleep when he's not home. I attribute these to my sleep woes.
Best moment this week: We scheduled our anatomy scan! April 14th at 9:00 a.m. and I can't wait!
Food cravings: I've finally started getting some cravings -- mostly for salty things, like fries and ketchup. I can't get enough salt all of the sudden, which I'm trying to ignore because it's not the best craving.
Food aversions: Aversion is a strong word, but sweets don't appeal to me at all this pregnancy. With Ethan, I couldn't get enough chocolate or candy or ice cream but none of that seems that good right now. It's sort of bizarre.
Baby's Sex: I'm still guessing girl, my husband is still guessing boy (and so is Ethan, at least as of today).
Baby's Name: Is still a secret!

And for fun, here's 18 weeks with Ethan:

My tummy is way bigger and pointier now than with Ethan but I've weirdly gained a lot less weight this pregnancy than with my last. (Probably because now I get to chase around a toddler.)


when discipline isn't discipline anymore

Recently the topic of spanking and discipline has been on fire on my social media feeds. It seems an hour can't pass before there is another heated debate on the subject. I'm not going to delve into my feelings on spanking further than to say we are a non-spanking household but rather I want to focus on one fallacy that keeps being mentioned over and over and over again: if you don't spank or put your children in time out, you're not disciplining them.

That's not true. Neither are all of the comments being made about how if you practice gentle parenting and discipline then your children run your household or walk all over you. For me, discipline isn't a control issue. It's not about me expecting my child to perform to the manner in which I see fit, the manner in which I would like them to. It's not about me wanting them to do the things I want them to regardless of their own feelings on the matter. On the contrary, that is exactly what I want my children to never do: follow blindly what they're being told when it contradicts the way they feel in their heart. I like to think that my husband and I are setting up a clear line of respect that works both ways: Ethan respects us and he knows in his heart that we respect him. What greater comfort to give our children than the confidence and comfort in knowing that we, as parents, respect them as people?

Discipline means many things to many different people. When people think of gentle parenting and households that do not practice spanking or time out, they think of maniacal children running rampant, children who kick, bite and scream while destroying restaurants and the sanity and comfort of others while I sit on my hands and smile blankly. This is another misconception. We believe in raising Ethan to know the right way to treat himself, other people and the environment around him. When he was newly two, this was a little more of a challenge. Before he could speak, he wouldn't be able to fully express himself in ways other than through a tantrum and tears. I never believed it was my job to put him in solitary confinement but instead to embrace him, let him know that I love him and am here to work through the way he is feeling with him. The older he got, the more he was able to rationalize with displaying his emotions in better ways. At almost three, there are times when he wants to stay home and play but we need to run to the grocery store and this just causes him to be frustrated, to cry and pout and yell his point that he does not want to go. It is hard, as an adult, to not grab him by the arms and shove him into the car while cursing under my breath, but that solves nothing. Sometimes I have to take an extra five or ten minutes to sit him on my lap and talk about the way he's feeling and why he's frustrated. If he's busy playing with a yellow car, we compromise that the yellow car can come. If he wants to work on a painting, I make the promise that as soon as we get home, we can make that painting and show it to daddy. I make it a priority to never be too busy, too rushed, too distracted to not give these talks priority during a time of stress. Even when we're running late to swim class, I want Ethan to know there is always time for his feelings and always time to talk them over. At this age, when he's truly flustered and upset, my asking "would you like to have a talk about the way you're feeling?" is enough to get him to calm down and nod in agreement. Sometimes, he even asks for the talk himself. I think this level of communication has come from implementing this form of discipline for so long and it being something that Ethan has grown accustomed to.

Discipline, to me, is teaching the child a lesson. Not in a spiteful way, but in a way that helps them better understand themselves and the world around them. It teaches them ways to better express their feelings. Discipline, to me, doesn't mean punishment. I don't believe children are bad. Growing up, my mom never let anyone use the word bad to describe a child. "Children aren't bad," she would say. That always stuck with me and I always found it to be true. Children can be misguided, confused and not sure how to properly express themselves other than through negative behavior, but I don't believe that punishment does much other than make them believe they are bad. Children don't throw tantrums to be bad or to make us parents angry. They do it because it's all they know how to do when they are having trouble understanding themselves. I believe that my job as a parent is to help Ethan work through his hard times rather than punish him for having feelings that he isn't able to get a hold of. When Ethan is having a fit, it's not always the prettier, quieter way to sit with him and talk it out, especially when he's having trouble calming himself down (and especially when this is in public), but I don't believe that putting him in a room or corner alone is helping to teach him that I value his opinions, thoughts and emotions and want to help him learn to express them better.

I'm not here to debate whether or not corporal punishment or punishment-based discipline works or doesn't work for you or your family. I'm simply here to clear up the muck I've been trudging through online accusing parents who don't believe in these (antiquated, in my opinion) forms of discipline to be ruining the future generations of America. On the contrary, my goal as a parent is to raise compassionate, confident, strong children. When I first met my husband as a teenager, he lacked the ability to have a disagreement. Instead of knowing how to talk about his feelings, he would run away. It took close to a decade to be able to chisel away at all of that and it's been a huge focus of mine as a parent. I want Ethan to be able to maintain successful adult relationships and have the ability to discuss his feelings, even in sticky situations. I want him to be able to be confident and strong in his beliefs. I want him to be the kind of man who knows that men have feelings and emotions. I want him to appreciate nature and be aware of how to treat those around him with kindness and compassion, a trait that so many seem to lack these days. I want him to expect to be respected in the often callous real world and never settle for disrespect. And, on that note, I want him to know how to respect others. That is the kind of discipline I'm raising my child with. We will continue to discipline him as parents who teach by example and embrace his mistakes and shortcomings because they always come with lessons on how to be remedied. I want him to always feel comfortable in sharing his feelings with me, something that doesn't mean I'm going let my child get away with everything and never tell him "no" as he is growing up like so many assume. Choosing not to spank or use time-out does not mean a child is being spoiled or not being disciplined. Discipline isn't a word that by definition has anything to do with punishment or reprimanding and that, for some reason, tends to be quite overlooked in society today.

combi shuttle infant car seat review

A huge perk to the second baby is that you sort of feel a whole lot less clueless than you did the first time around. Gone are the mile-long registry lists of things you insist your baby will need that you'll never use and, even better, you'll know what products work and what don't. One of the big don'ts on my list was Ethan's infant car seat. It was clunky, it was heavy, it was bulky and, my goodness, he didn't like it very much. This go 'round, I wanted to do my research and explore other more lightweight infant car seats on the market. A compact seat was also a huge factor since now I would have two car seats rearfacing in my tiny backseat. The Combi Shuttle looked amazing -- too good to be true, even -- and I was excited to be able to try it out!

I drive an older model Mitsubishi Outlander and was a little nervous at how difficult it would be to maneuver two rearfacing seats in my tiny back seat and really, really hoping I wouldn't lose the extra third passenger seat in the back. During the installation as the Shuttle was being installed, I couldn't believe how truly compact it was! Not only did it fit beautifully in the center next to Ethan's Radian, but I didn't lose that extra passenger seat. My 17 year old sister gladly tested the spot out on a trip to Carvel that afternoon.

The Shuttle has a lot of great features worthy of discussing. I loved the recline adjustment feature. There is a clearly marked lever on the base that reclines the seat to four different positions. There are recline indicators on both sides so you're able to determine when the seat is properly reclined.

The anti-rebound bar is also a really cool feature unique to the Shuttle that helps stabilize the infant seat in the event of a collision.

Since I am still pregnant and wanted to be able to get a real baby's opinion on the seat, let me introduce you to Baby Sophie. She is the baby sister of one of Ethan's best friends and was a great baby model for this review!

As Sophie is cutely modeling, the Combi is not only a gorgeous seat but it is very snug and comfortable. While color is obviously the least important feature of a car seat, I really loved all of the beautiful shades that the Shuttle came offered in. I couldn't resist this beautiful blue!

The Shuttle overall is extremely user-friendly. I also liked that there were only two slots for the seat straps, so you'll only have to rethread them once. Another favorite feature is the knob on the back that you can twist to move the head restraint to get that perfect fit and shoulder height!

The Combi Shuttle has 360 degrees of protection with Combi's Tru-Safe Side Impact Protection and has a layer of energy absorbing foam to distribute forces away from the head, neck and spine of your little one.

As the mom to a big kid (I'm currently stressed out over the fact he likely will hit the 45 pound rearfacing weight limit of his Radian before his third birthday), I really appreciate that the Combi Shuttle rearfaces up to 35 pounds and 33 inches tall. Eliminating the stress of race-against-the-growing-baby is always a plus.

I also really like the ergonomic carry handle. I could easily tell a huge difference in carrying this seat versus Ethan's infant seat. The Shuttle only weighs 9.25 pounds without the base so it is very lightweight to begin with, which I appreciate! The carry handle is to stay in an upright position when driving which was another plus for my smaller backseat. It also made it really easy to remove the seat and lock it in without causing any disruption to a baby who might be sleeping. I also love the canopy which is really big and provides great shade from the sun -- a must have here in Florida.

The Shuttle also feels really secure when clicked into the base and is easily removed by lifting the lever on the back of the seat. Other great features include the one-pull harness adjuster and built in lock-offs. There is also room for the instruction manual to be stored in the back of the seat for when it needs to be referenced. For those looking for a travel system, the Combi Shuttle also works with all Combi strollers to create a travel system!

We are thrilled with the Combi Shuttle and it truly is a wonderful, lightweight and super safe infant car seat! It's always scary to think about bringing a new baby home but some of that anxiety has been relieved by knowing we can do so in the Shuttle!

The Combi Shuttle retails for $179.99 and be purchased at your favorite baby retailers, including Babies 'R Us.

For more information on the Shuttle and other great Combi products, visit Combi USA online and stay connected with them on Facebook!


remember when our songs were just like prayer, like gospel hymns that you called in the air

These days are both long and short, packed with chaos and running and doing. By the time my husband is home and Ethan is asleep in his bed, I'm exhausted and my eyes are burning with the need to just sleep. So I do. I've found myself at random times during the day willing myself to never forget the little moments and by the time eight o'clock rolls around I'm too wiped out to turn on a computer and recount them. So I don't. This disconnect, I'm guessing, isn't unusual considering pregnancy and being the sole caretaker to an almost-three year old don't always go seamlessly together. But I want to make more of a conscious effort to recount these moments, the one that pass by in a sweat-filled haze of South Florida springtime commotion, the ones that I will myself to never forget.

While not a day passes by where my husband and I don't glance at one another with the quizzical look of "where did our baby go?" I find myself loving this age even more than any phase of the past. I say that often. My credibility is probably shot. But these memories at almost-three are some of my favorites. Almost-three. It's the age everyone warns you about, the one you're supposed to despise -- but I don't, at all. There is chaos and there is frustration but there is Ethan and I, this little team that we are, and this understanding we have that no one else in the world is a part of. He has slowly-yet-quickly morphed into this little man with this boisterous, wonderful personality and it seems each day a new piece of him unfolds. The person he is, the one he is becoming, is so beautiful.

We spent this morning at the storage yard helping my dad wash his boat. At almost-three, Ethan is, above all else, a helper. He doesn't care what you're doing -- he's going to want to help. There are so many little moments taking up these days and I need to promise myself to get better about writing it all down. Tonight we watched a video of Ethan when he was learning to speak and my husband and I both remarked how we barely remember him being that little. Isn't that the way life works, the way everyone is always insisting life works? I need to promise myself to take better notes.


the green baby fair miami is coming back again!

Twice a year, Miami's fabulous The Gathering Place & their amazing boutique Peapod Essentials presents the Green Baby Fair! The Green Baby Fair returns to the Little Haiti Cultural Center on April 5th from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. I am so sad that I won't be able to make April's event, but I'm excited that I'm still able to offer one of my readers the chance to win a pair of tickets! I was able to attend the event in October and it was a great time for all expectant mommies, new mommies -- or even veteran mommies (with organic buying clubs, photographers, pediatric groups and educational toys and tools -- there truly is something for everyone!).

Here were some of my favorite highlights from October's Green Baby Fair:

April's line-up looks just as great, with fabulous vendors such as Stinkin' Cute Baby Boutique (see also the boutique that convinced my husband to jump on board the cloth diaper train with baby #2!), Beco, Endlessly Organic, Annie's Buying Club, Ava Anderson, Bundle Organics and tons more.

Did I mention Strider Bikes will be there with a whole adventure zone set up for the kiddos? Because we love Strider bikes!

Oh my goodness, how was my baby EVER that teeny-tiny?!

April's Green Baby Fair is sure to be awesome! General admission is $10 online or $15 at the door. Children 13 and under are free (yes, this is a family friendly event! Bring the kiddos!). For more information, visit Green Baby Fair online. And to win a pair of tickets, do so here:

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