haika clothing: great clothing for a great cause

I discovered Haika Clothing during a time when Ethan's asthma was pretty bad and let's just say...it was love at first tagline. Asthma does suck. As a former nebulizer kid myself, I get it. I get it tenfold when I have to struggle to keep Ethan's nebulizer mask on his little face, the familiar scent of albuterol filling the air as he cries, screams, begs for me to turn the machine off. I've never been shy about Ethan's struggles with asthma. If anything, I've been more vocal about it as time goes on. Having contracted RSV at five months old, Ethan's respiratory troubles began then and didn't seem to want to quit. At three, he is well on track -- hopefully -- to outgrowing his pediatric asthma. His issues are less frequent and they don't typically last as long. He hasn't had an actual attack for close to a year now (stop what you're doing and knock on the nearest piece of wood). Still, as anyone who has ever witnessed an asthma attack would understand, it's pretty chilling and not so easy to forget. Whenever he runs too hard and begins to cough or needs to catch his breath, my heart drops to the pit of my stomach in panic. Where others have decorative items perched nicely on their sofa end tables, we have a nebulizer machine and boxes of nebulizer steroids and medications. Asthma has just sort of become a part of our lives, but I'm not willing to let it hold Ethan back.

If there's one thing I've noticed since being the parent to an asthmatic child, it's the way people tend to trivialize the importance of asthma. Unfortunately, asthma is more common than most people realize (300 million people worldwide are asthma sufferers!) and is only increasing. There are many things that non-asthmatics take for granted: running, working out, swimming, athletics -- and having the opportunity to do these things without the assistance of an inhaler. For Ethan, a whole lot of hard play often results in need for a breathing treatment. He's become almost accustomed to it at this point and, luckily, the frequency of him needing treatments is decreasing with his age. It's still hard to not sit back and realize how unfair it is that a child should be concerned with breathing in addition to carefree play. We get a lot of "but I don't want to take a breather, mommy!" quips. Because of my emotional investment in asthma due to Ethan's journey, I have become pretty involved in asthma awareness and fundraising. With that concept in mind, I want to introduce you to a very awesome guy who has set out to do just that!

That up there is Justin! Justin is the creator of Haika Clothing. Haika means asthma in Tagalong. Being Filipino himself, Justin wanted to incorporate his heritage in with a company he cared so very much about. Justin has had asthma his entire life, from a nebulizer at a young age to a preventative inhaler now as an adult. If there's anyone who understands the struggle of living with asthma it's Justin, and I am grateful for his desire to speak up on behalf of everyone living with asthma! Haika's motto is "Take Control" and that's exactly the vision Justin had when creating Haika. He wanted asthmatics everywhere to take control of their lives, to not let the fear of asthma get the best of them and stop them from living. I think that's something we can all get behind.

Justin has a love for the outdoors, including hiking, snowboarding, skateboarding and mountain biking, and he never let his asthma take that all away from him. Because of his passion towards an active lifestyle, Justin created Haika's clothing with active lifestyles in mind. As the token family athlete, my husband got to test run one of Haika's super comfortable t-shirts. Having handpicked the most comfortable, soft materials, Justin ensured Haika's t-shirts and sweatshirts make perfect work-out gear. They are lightweight, soft and perfect for a jog, walk, run (or bike ride, in my husband's case). They are also so light and comfortable that they're perfect for sipping a latte and laying on the couch (you know, how I exercise).

Haika's t-shirts are the perfect "favorite trusty t-shirt" that you reach for first in your closet when you need to be comfortable. They're also super high quality making them perfect for wearing out and about, too. I've noticed that because of the thin, soft material, the t-shirts dry very quickly. Whether it's sweat (hey, we're Floridians, leave us alone) or water from wrangling Ethan out of the pool (which should be considered an Olympic sport), the shirt dries in no time.

With each purchase of one of Haika's amazingly comfortable t-shirts or sweatshirts, $5 is donated to an asthma organization in your area. I already love the concept of Haika's tees and sweats being perfect for maintaining an active lifestyle (take that, asthma!) but I even more so love the personalized way that Haika gives back. Your support for this fabulous clothing line goes right back into your community!

For every person who says to me "you know, I have asthma, too" or "I also had asthma when I was a child," I realize how big an epidemic asthma truly is. And, of course, I realize how important it is that everyone takes control of their lives and realizes that nothing is ever out of reach. Nothing is ever impossible. Like I said before, isn't that something we can all get behind?

To browse Haika's entire collection of men and women's t-shirts and unisex sweatshirts, visit haikaclothing.com.

Don't forget to stay up to speed with Haika on your favorite social media channels, too! Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are all great ways to keep yourself connected for deals and latest news! Speaking of news, Haika has some exciting new news about products for kiddos coming soon so make sure you get connected!


tot school - birthday week! - 3 years

What with everything going on, we took a little hiatus from tot school. This was our first week back and what better way to kick things off than with a special birthday week unit?! Ethan was really excited about our return to tot school as well as it being his birthday week, so he had a blast with these trays! He had come down with a little cold the week leading up to his birthday so we had spent a lot of time at home doing these trays over and over again. Our tot school classroom floor is completely covered in cake sprinkles, but that's only the sign of a great time, right? Right.

I had accidentally deleted a few of our photos while trying to gear up my camera for Ethan's party pictures, so there are a couple missing. Still, you get the idea. Welcome back, tot school! What a great week back it was.


Ethan got to identify the numbers on each cake and match up the correct number of candles. He loved this one!


This one came from 2 Teaching Mommies and was such a fun activity! Ethan got to match up the birthday themed items to their corresponding shadows. This was a simple tray, but he had a lot of fun with it.


For this one, I paired some different sets of lines with some birthday themed pictures. Ethan got to practice cutting on the lines. He still hasn't completely mastered using scissors so he had a tough time with this one, but he does love trying with the scissors.


This was another fun one from 2 Teaching Mommies! I put this one in a little dry erase pocket and Ethan got to circle which object was different. He had a great time with this one!


This one had some birthday words and a cup filled with the letters. We practiced sounding out each word and what sounds each letter made and then matching up the correct letters to spell the word. Ethan was pretty excited about this one at first but it took him so long to complete that he didn't want to repeat it again.


For this one, I put dots of glitter glue on the bottom of a few different cupcake liners. The dots ranged from tiny up to a big circle. There were also some different cards with cakes on them ranging from a cake pop up to a tiered cake. Even though the cakes on the cards were the same size printed, Ethan got to arrange them by size using the corresponding cupcake liners. He really liked this one, but mostly because the kid loves cake.


For this one, I painted the tops of some clothespins and printed an image of some balloons in the corresponding colors. Ethan got to practice using clothespins to match up each color. He still has a little difficulty using the clothespins to clip onto things, so this one caused a little frustration. When he got it right, though, he was pretty excited.


This discovery bin got a whole lot of use over the week! It was Ethan's favorite activity in tot school this week. I filled the bin with some loose sprinkles and then filled it with some sprinkle shaker bottles, party hats, noise makers, cake mix, balloons and other fun birthday items. He had a blast making "music" with the sprinkles as well as filling the deflated balloons with sprinkles to turn those into musical instruments as well. I also loved watching him make cupcakes using the liners, sprinkles and candles!


Tot School Montessori MondayI Can Teach My Child

No Time For Flash CardsFor the Kids Friday


the first day

Ethan graduated swim lessons last Saturday. That in itself feels a little surreal, considering I can close my eyes and remember what it was like to sign him up for his first lessons as an infant. Swim was trial and error with Ethan, who has never been the bravest or the toughest child. He spent his first swim lessons shrieking through the class from start to finish, gulping water and filling the pool with his tears. I wanted Ethan to swim without him being terrified of the water, which I personally felt was counterproductive to learning.

When people ask me the secret to Ethan's swimming success, I always point out my "trial and error" theory because I believe it wholeheartedly. Once we found a curriculum that Ethan loved (gentle, repetitive and play-based) and a teacher who he adored, he wanted to learn and at that point, it became less of a chore and more of something he looked forward to. We signed up for lessons at our city's aquatic center as a trial last spring only for Ethan to fall madly in love with the class and teacher. Within no time, he was swimming -- really swimming -- and his teacher said at three, he could be bumped up from the mommy and me class to the class intended for 4- and 5-year olds. I was so proud of him, of course, proud of the way he really pushed himself to learn and how much he loved the water, but also a little nervous. I was nervous because the jump to the big kid class meant a lot of things: a new teacher, new curriculum -- and mommy or daddy watching from the sidelines instead of being in the pool with him. Aside from the occasional hour or so at Grandma's while I do a solo doctor appointment, Ethan has never been away from me and I was nervous as to how he would do in the hands of a stranger.

Still, he wanted to continue on with swim and I'm not going to teach him to give in to fear. If there's any trait of mine that I refuse to let Ethan inherit, it's the buckling under fear. He wanted to do this swim thing and that meant he was going to do it and know how capable he was. (Even if mommy sat on the sidelines, out of view, and cried. Which was also probably due in part to the fact today was supposed to be my baby shower and it was supposed to be held at the clubhouse at the pool where Ethan takes his lessons.)

The class started out rough. I took Ethan to meet his new swim teacher and he refused to do anything but bury his face in my legs. I even pointed out his old swim teacher who was in the same pool teaching the babies in the class he had graduated from. The other children in Ethan's new class are five years old, which is something else I worried about. They had plenty of experience in a school setting and a better grasp at listening to instruction. I didn't want anyone to make Ethan feel silly or inferior in some way because of this. I already have a hard time with this since Ethan is so big and therefore people typically think he's a lot older than he actually is. Thankfully, his new swim instructor was very sweet and let Ethan spend the beginning of class on her back while she taught the other children. I thought this meant swim class was turning into an utter disaster already, but I was wrong. Within minutes, he warmed up to Miss Josie and they couldn't keep him out of the water. Which was sort of a problem, since the other kids were old enough to know to wait on the side until their name was called. Ethan, on the other hand, was just an overzealous newly-three year old who doesn't really grasp the whole "sit and wait" thing yet. They eventually called in a lifeguard to sit with him on the side and dote on him while the other kids had their time with the instructor.

My husband tried to prepare me last night for how rough today was going to be. It was my first experience with handing over my screaming child to a stranger and walking away and I didn't think I was exactly ready. I was worried that this experience would ruin Ethan's love for swimming or make him forget everything he had learned. After all, he can swim -- these are now optional classes to further learn technique or how to really swim properly. Continuing swim class was Ethan's choice fully but that didn't really pardon my nagging mom guilt about leaving him alone, screaming, with a stranger. My husband and I were both shocked -- in a good way -- at how well Ethan took to the situation. After a few rocky minutes, he was swimming and having the time of his life. The next meltdown we had was actually getting him out of the pool. This is the class Ethan can choose to stay in until he's six years old, when he can join the city's little swim team if he wanted to. It's crazy to think about, much like remembering those first days in swim learning to blow bubbles and float while laying on my arms. I blinked and now my kid was swimming properly across the pool. Little arms popping in and out of the water, little feet kicking behind him.

I wonder if this is a hobby that will stick with him, a love he will have for many years ahead. I wonder if he will want to continue on until he's six or join the swim team after that. I wonder if he will wake up one day and decide that, no, just simply knowing how to swim is good enough for him. I watched my little sister go from loving to dance to burning out her senior year of high school, the same fate my husband's high school football career suffered his junior year, and I wonder how I can nurture this along properly. How I can encourage him without suffocating him, how I can sort of properly assist him in his swimming journey despite knowing next to nothing about swimming myself aside from basic survival. Swim is the first activity Ethan has truly loved and thrown his entire self into and, as a parent, it's been an amazing thing to watch. I don't think he has any idea how proud I am of him for facing his fear and not letting it stop him from doing what he loves. He makes me a little braver, too.


the say when

I have never been particularly good about putting myself out there. I remember back when starting a new school year held such excitement for the other kids who were dying to meet new people and gain some fresh start while I was all set to just cry under my covers until any threat of change completely dissipated. "Just say hi," my friends would urge me when I pointed out that "so-and-so from LiveJournal" (hey, don't hate) was in my English class. I never said hi. I thought about saying hi, but I never said hi. Some people are just friendly and have no problem thrusting themselves into a friendly introduction or carrying on conversation with a complete stranger. I've never been one of them, or at least not easily. I'm more comfortable waiting for someone to make the first move before my guard sort of drops a little bit. Enough to at least carry on some friendly banter, at the very least.

Motherhood has made the art of making friends even more difficult. I was the first of my pre-Ethan friends to have children and the ones who are starting to embark on the journey into parenthood don't live locally. It sort of puts you in an uncomfortable place, trying to navigate parenthood yourself for the first time while trying to ensure you don't end up bouncing around a padded room from lack of communication with anyone other than an infant for days on end. My first months of parenthood were spent desperately seeking conversation from any adult I could find, be it a barista at Starbucks or the cashier in the Target check-out line. Someone who spoke actual words and didn't just cry or coo at me. I was sort of under the assumption that every other new mother was also in this same position but was a little taken aback when nothing seemed all that different from high school. I've written about it before, but the similarities between high school and parenthood are a little uncanny. You sort of sit there at mommy and me class hoping someone will speak to you with the same desperation of wanting to not be picked last for the kickball team. (And I'm sure I would have been picked last for the kickball team if I didn't exempt myself by claiming I had cramps first. For all my PE teachers ever knew, I always had my period.)

Motherhood as a first-timer felt like a constant string of rude awakenings. I imagined that "it takes a village" quote coming to life, a room of women desperately wanting to accept me into their group because we were all in this together and all had virtually no idea what we were doing. This wasn't so. I think my rudest awakening came when I realized how much time grown women can spend lamenting about things that didn't require lamenting about. Like circumcision. Hey, your kids who you're not watching are about to run into traffic but it's okay, spend another forty-five minutes talking about who does or doesn't have a foreskin. It's riveting. If it wasn't circumcision (which it felt like it always was), they'd lament about people who used formula. Or who lived in an apartment versus a house. Or who drove what car. Or who made what mistakes in high school because someone they know told them this story dating back to 1995. Or what terrible, lazy things their husband did that day. I would leave each mommy group wondering if I was the only person who didn't hate my husband while simultaneously fearing someone was going to do a diaper check before they let my son back into the next playgroup. ("No foreskin? No entry. Find another playgroup, kid.") I also started to really think about what choices I made in high school people would crucify me for while finding myself breathing a sigh of relief that I was a good five to ten years younger than everyone else. Whew. In the clear.

I'm not sure when I stopped caring, but eventually I did. Eventually it became easier to just sort of go with the flow of each day and accept that motherhood meant simply spending this time with my child. We managed to somehow make a couple of great friends who were equally apathetic to the Mommyhood Politics and our days felt a lot lighter. Better. Happier. I just wasn't a go-getter and never was going to be. Blissfully not caring about these invisible parenting checklists was the new listening to Pearl Jam instead of Janet Jackson (the thing that got you banished to eating lunch in the bathroom alone in middle school. No? Just me?). I didn't want to spend so much time lamenting over what other women were lamenting over. It was counterproductive. I just wanted to be. Be the mom who will take that extra twenty minutes of sleep over washing my hair every day, the mom with the cluttered house with floors that desperately need mopping, the one not ashamed to admit I'm sort of running a cat hospice in my bedroom right now and an incontinent cat is the way life rolled the dice right now; the mom who drives an older car because it's safe and it works and it's all I need, the mom who is trying to practice minimalism while admitting it's hard in flashy South Florida, the mom who finds my husband every bit as attractive as I did when I was fifteen; the mom who will never, ever have all my shit together. And the mom who says shit once in a while. Because, shit, sometimes you just need to say it.

I think the more into this motherhood role I get, the more confidence I'm finding in being myself and having myself be okay, or enough. The more I'm comfortable with writing the words that are circling my brain even though I know just about everyone who knows me in real life knows this blog exists. The more I'm a little more okay with being the first to say hello or initiate a conversation with someone I sense doesn't outwardly suck. The other day I went on a playdate with someone that I met at the children's museum. This is something I never would have done, out of shyness, out of fear, out of anxiety over having to use all of my strength to make conversation because it just doesn't come naturally to me -- but I went, and it was a nice time. My child ended the playdate with an utter meltdown and we left with him barefoot and stripped down to his diaper because he didn't like the clothes I'd packed and none of that mattered, because he's still talking about his new friend and yesterday we received an invitation for a second playdate. "Oh, a second date," my husband will joke and I'm finally okay to laugh because none of it has to be so serious anymore. Who we are is enough. No matter what I did in high school or how dirty my kitchen floors are or how hard it is for me to initiate conversation. Eventually just being is enough -- and if anyone tells you it isn't, they're part of the problem. It's like the "a-ha!" moment that I've been struggling to uncover since I was a kid.


you belong somewhere close to me

A few days ago marked a month since Wylie's birth.

There is so much about that date, the 23rd, that will make not counting the length of time it's been since we had to say goodbye forever nearly impossible. Ethan's birthday is the 22nd and my c-section with Wylie was to be (August) 23rd. Of course, Wylie's birth came on our wedding anniversary exactly, which was May 23rd. I wonder sometimes if I'm the only one who finds it strange that she chose to make her arrival on the 23rd (the doctors thought since I'd never labored before she would be born the following day, the 24th) when her true birth was supposed to be on the 23rd as well, but I'm sure that's one of those things my mind tends to wander with. I sometimes even go back and wonder where we even got May 23rd for as a wedding date considering it held no sentimental value at the time and we just sort of selected it on a calendar at random but I try to let my mind take a breather once in a while. It's hard to not analyze something so significant that comes with a "there was no rhyme or reason to this" clause. I don't know that my mind is ever going to be able to accept that this was all an act of randomness, an error in nature, something that went terribly wrong for no apparent reason. That seems an acceptable explanation for certain things, of course, but the loss of your child? It isn't good enough. Not that any reasoning will ever be good enough.

People have been telling me constantly how strong I am. I'm not trying to discredit my strength because, believe me, it takes strength to even find my strength and sometimes I even impress myself, but I mostly believe that I'm strong because I have no choice to be. I cannot lay in bed and fall to pieces because I have Ethan to live for. And, even so, no matter how much I could possibly will myself to implode, it isn't going to happen. There are choices in life, sure, and then there is the fact that I have a three year old who needs to eat, needs to continue living his own childhood and, most importantly, needs a functioning mother in his life. Surviving isn't being strong and being strong isn't a choice and there are so many intricacies involved in this loss that I'm still trying to untangle them all. I try to swallow down the compliments as best that I can and I try to continue living as best as I can, though I will never be the same again. I will always, from here on out, be a mother who lost a child. It's a badge that I want to wear without stigma but it's a badge that is stitched to your skin painfully and never really scabs over and heals. It's a weird place to be, wanting to be cleared to exercise again to lose the baby weight while simultaneously not wanting to lose what was gained because of her. It's a place of wanting people to stop sympathetically thinking you're plotting to snatch their babies simply because you lost yours and desperately wanting them to know that their baby is not yours and it's apples and oranges, all of it. It's a place of learning to live a little differently, sort of like a reeducation process that is self-led and without any sort of manual or guide to assist you. Sometimes I break down for a reason that even I cannot identify and I'm sure it's normal, as normal as any part of losing a child can be.

We are coping. We are staying busy as best as we can in the hot South Florida summertime and I am trying not to notice the way I can now fall asleep on my stomach, the way my pregnancy-induced lethargy has officially faded to gusts of energy that can give a three year old a run for his money. Slowly life is regressing back to a place I thought I would never be in again but yet I am and while it's true that, instead of dwelling, I choose to thrust myself full-throttle into Ethan's childhood and it's enclosed magic, sometimes it's too easy to just fall apart. And mention her, or miss her, because I'm human. Because I'm a mother. Because she's my daughter. Because it's too easy to think "she should be here" when she isn't. Sometimes I want to write about her because it helps, because it feels natural. Sometimes I want to write about something else, about Ethan, about the happiness that he brings to our world. I've learned quickly that it's okay to not force myself into sadness when I'm with Ethan out of guilt and that I don't need to explain to people how I haven't forgotten about her or, worse, "gotten over it" like so many others seem to think is possible when I'm out with Ethan. It's another tightrope to walk, another balancing act for me to attempt to master while knowing I've never been the most coordinated. This blog always wore many hats and it has now added a couple more to it's collection.


captain ethan's 3rd birthday party: the details post

Each year I do a little details post about Ethan's parties with what we did for invitations, decorations and party favors. (Here is last years post!) The decorations were definitely a little simpler this year compared to last (I can just feel Ethan's My Gym teacher giving me the side eye -- hi, Mr. Lee!) so they don't really require much explanation. Instead, I'll just show what we did for party favors this year as well as Ethan's party invitation!


Oh, the invitations. Ethan's invitation was initially a source of pride turned utmost frustration, but I'm still glad we went with them in the end! I found the bottles and corks for cheap on eBay and Amazon -- whoever had the best price! -- and had our invitations printed at Office Max. My only issue with the bottles was that the opening was so narrow that I had to have the invitations printed on standard paper rather than a thicker card stock or they wouldn't fold properly (especially not without getting stuck!).

Each year, we include a little paper asking for donations to the Breathe Hope campaign by Global Links in lieu of a gift and I usually include a stamped envelope for anyone wanting to send a check. What I learned the hard way after stamping and labeling the little envelopes was that they didn't fit. My mental breakdown only subsided because this year we added online donations to the mix so no one actually ended up even needing or wanting to send in a check. Still! On top of everything else, two of our bottles never made it to their destinations and are still MIA! I was a little worried that they'd all arrive at their destinations crushed or empty but other than the two invites lost in transit, they all arrived safely! While I'm definitely sticking to envelopes in the future, the bottles were really cute and I'm glad they (mostly) worked out in the end!

The actual invitation was designed by Paper Fox Design and was so super cute!


A lot of Ethan's friends have baby siblings and I just like to include the babies in all of the fun! All of the kids in attendance who were one and under received a cute Sesame Street pirate book as well as a little bag of special baby snacks!

(Cute little pirate treat bags came clearance from Wal-Mart!)


All the "big kids" (the over-ones!) got the same favors. I'm pretty determined to stray away from filling the party favors with candy or junk, even if it means making myself crazy making things for hours on end. This year, Ethan asked me to include slime and play-dough. Months ago, I had started melting down crayons in chocolate molds to make coin shaped crayons and I couldn't be more thankful I started those so early. I definitely underestimated the time it took to make so much slime and play-dough.

Each favor bag also contained a bag of Pirate's Booty. A couple of days before Ethan's party, Pirate's Booty sent a gigantic box of Pirate's Booty to our front door. Each one of Ethan's little friends was able to take home a bag of Pirate's Booty which totally made his day -- he got a kick out of helping me stuff each favor bag with the Pirate's Booty. I cannot tell you how touched we were to have received this gesture from the company solely because they know of our situation in losing Wylie as well as how much Ethan loves pirates and their product. We have always loved Pirate's Booty but now we will most definitely be customers for life. In a dark time, it always amazes me how certain people (or, in this case, companies) come out of the woodwork to stand behind you and help you out. So very grateful to Pirate's Booty for helping make Ethan's special day even more special!

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