tubby todd love lake lavender wash review and giveaway

Bathtime is a favorite time around our house. There's little Ethan loves more than unwinding in a bubble bath at the end of a busy day. I will say I'm a creature of habit -- why fix what isn't broken? -- and have been using the same bath products on Ethan since he was born. Change isn't exactly my favorite thing. After nearly four years using the same products, I was hesitant to try something new -- especially when I grew to trust the products we used, especially on Ethan's super sensitive skin. Still, the more I read about Tubby Todd and the more reviews I saw pop up on my social media feeds, I became super intrigued.

For starters, Tubby Todd is run by a mom. After years of careful selection of the highest quality ingredients, mama of two, Andrea, created and perfected the Tubby Todd line. Rarely does anything sneak past a mom in regards to her kids! Tubby Todd's products are free from all gluten, toxins, parabens, sulfates, artificial fragrances and artificial colors. They are packaged in BPA free bottles and are also cruelty free. With ingredients like honeysuckle flower extract, real lavender and echinacea, Tubby Todd's Love Lake Lavender wash is safe for even the itty-bittiest of newborns.

My favorite part of the Love Lake Lavender wash is that you can use it as a shampoo as well as a body wash. Plus, a little goes a long way! It doesn't take much to bubble up a pretty impressive lather -- which is Ethan's favorite part, of course.

The smell of the lavender wash is amazing. It's a subtle, natural lavender fragrance that helps calm over-stimulated little ones after busy days of play and mess-making. I also love how gentle it is on Ethan's skin. Even my hands felt soft after I washed Ethan's hair and scrubbed him up! Ethan has had allergic reactions to plenty of products in his day, so I was wary as to how this change would affect his skin. To my surprise, the cradle cap he's gotten regularly since his birth went away after one wash with our Love Lake Lavender wash. I had always just assumed that a dry scalp was par for the course with Ethan's hair (I tend to have a dry scalp, too, no matter what I do) but to my surprise, this wasn't so! Ethan's scalp hasn't seen a flake in the couple of weeks we've been regularly using our Love Lake Lavender wash! After swimming, Ethan typically gets tiny red bumps on his chest, back and arms underneath where his rashguard is. The combination of the tight material and the chlorinated water tends to aggravate his skin a little bit. After a couple of days, these bumps usually disappear. However, they went away immediately after our Tubby Todd Love Lake Lavender bath each and every time. This reassured me that Ethan was actually getting clean and said a lot about the high quality, natural ingredients in the wash.

My verdict is in and I'm excited to say that after four years of the same products, we have officially switched our little man to Tubby Todd products. While the quality of the products are what sold us, it feels extra awesome to support a small business in the process. In addition to Love Lake Lavender, Tubby Todd also offer lotion and a bubble bath that features a fragrance derived from Bartlett pear, guava and pineapple -- so yummy, right?!

I'm also super excited that Tubby Todd are giving one of my readers the chance to try a bottle of Love Lake Lavender wash for themselves. I'm willing to bet you'll make the switch, too!

Giveaway ends 5/13. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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tot school - the ocean, part one - age 3 1/2

After a few weeks off, we returned to tot school this week! Ethan had asked if we could learn more about the ocean, so that's just what we did. I decided to break up our ocean unit into two weeks since there's still so much to work on. This past week was part one and part two will kick off tomorrow. Overall, it was a great week and Ethan really enjoyed being back in our classroom and returning to tot school!


For this one, I set out a tray with some salt dough (in the center), some sea shells, some crayons and scrap paper, a magnifying glass and a sponge. Ethan had fun exploring the different types of shells and pointed out that he could explore them with all five of his senses -- well, almost. He decided last minute he had no desire to taste the shells. This tray occupied the bulk of his attention during the week. He especially loved making imprints ("fossils!") in the salt dough.


I filled a little tray with some play sand and included some ocean sight words for Ethan to practice writing. He's mastered writing the bulk of his letters, but we have a hard time with words. Placing the letters in order and not sporadically displayed all over the page is something we're working on now. He always loves the sensory writing bins and this one was no exception! He had so much fun writing words in the sand and did an excellent job!


This was a fun experiment! Our darkest layer (midnight zone) was light Karo corn syrup tinted dark blue with food coloring, the middle layer (twilight zone) was Dawn dish soap that was already blue and the top layer (the sunlit layer) was some rubbing alcohol with the tiniest bit of blue. When poured into the jar, the layers stayed separate.


I saw these fun glow in the dark beads at the store and have been waiting for the perfect opportunity to use them. For this one, Ethan got to count out the beads -- we used 15-20 for this activity -- and string them onto the jellyfish. He enjoyed this one at first but his attention started to drift off midway through and he lost any interest in finishing it later in the week.


My husband is an accountant and is a total "numbers guy" but I've started to suspect Ethan takes after me more. I can't really do anything to get him interested in adding or numbers so I was hoping this tray would help win his attention. It didn't. He did one addition "problem" with me before putting this tray back on the shelf.


For this activity, Ethan got to practice lacing with some yarn and these paper plate "seashells." He had fun with the first one but the yarn began to fray which caused him to get a little frustrated. I tried swapping out some different string but he was over it!


For this one, I filled a pail with some "ocean words" and Ethan got to sound out what each one started with and write that letter on the corresponding dry erase pocket. I chose to use a skinny marker with this one instead of a dry erase marker specifically because I wanted him to have more practice with tools other than the thick markers. He's mastered those, but his letters are still a little wobbly with pens or thinner markers! He enjoyed this activity a lot and had fun doing it repeatedly throughout the week!


For this one, Ethan got to set out two different cards and then decide which number was bigger. Whichever number was bigger, he would make the shark eat! He actually had a lot of fun with this tray and we repeated it often throughout the week, even changing it up so the shark would eat the smaller number instead.


Tot School Montessori MondayI Can Teach My Child

No Time For Flash CardsFor the Kids FridayThe Weekly Kids Co-Op

Hip Homeschool Moms

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representing team heather

That's my friend Heather and I up there in that (super flattering) photo. On that particular day, we were signing our sons up for swim lessons. This is a big deal, you see, at least for the lessons that our city offers. In fact, we had camped out outside the aquatic center when it was still dark outside -- was it 5:30 a.m.? -- and I was pregnant at the time so I couldn't even sip on coffee while we waited. A grumpy man happened to arrive between Heather and I and refused to let her cut the line so we awkwardly talked around him. A rainstorm blew in and before long, we were soaked as we shivered in the line for four more hours until the sign-ups began. It was so chaotic and ridiculous that it was almost comical. There were a few other funny tidbits to that day -- like the grown man who took my number to try to steal my spot in line (I guess I look weak) or the fact we made it to the front and realized we were a few dollars short, forcing my mother to wake up and haul ass to the pool to bail us out before we lost our spot. Anyway, the point is, not many people would have waited in that line with me through the chaos, the rain and the night that unraveled into morning. Heather did, because we're both sort of crazy and stubborn like that. Our kids want lessons with their favorite teacher? Well, then, we're going to camp out outside a pool in the dark in a complete monsoon while grown adults revert back to childlike tantrums, damn it! Swim lessons with Miss Jenn or bust!

Heather is a busy working mama to two toddlers -- an (almost) four year old son and an (almost) two year old daughter. She is a movie buff and a writer and a blogger and a foodie. Our coffee dates begin at a coffee shop and become a sequence of "hey, now let's go do..." until the bulk of the day passes because no matter how long it's been since we've seen one another, it's just so easy to pick back up.

Most recently, though, my friend Heather was diagnosed with breast cancer. As she gears up for her double mastectomy and reconstruction surgery, I can only imagine (while not being able to imagine at all) where her emotions are. I know that life isn't fair and also that breast cancer is messing with the wrong person. I also know that finances and medical bills should be the last thing on her mind as she recovers from surgery. Having been through a medical crisis myself last year when we lost Wylie, I understand firsthand how medical bills add up even with the best insurance. There's absolutely no reason why Heather should have to worry about this on top of everything else. I know that we -- as mamas, as bloggers, as social media users and as human beings -- can work together to provide support and assistance for Heather and her family during this time.

A friend of Heather's has started a fundraising account on Booster. Team Heather shirts will sell for $20, with proceeds going directly to Heather and her family. Please consider buying yourself a Team Heather shirt here -- and please share the word! Additional donations can be made in addition to the purchase of the t-shirt for anyone who is interested.

In addition, I am in the midst of planning an Instagram auction fundraiser for Heather which will take place on May 30th. For more information, be sure to follow @heartsforheather on Instagram. Items up for auction will be listed as they are donated and full auction rules can also be found on the Instagram account, too!

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my little nightmare

I was scrolling through Facebook this morning and saw someone share a blog post titled "my worst nightmare as a parent." The comments were laden with "LOL" and overtly smiling emojis, so I became intrigued. I mean, nightmares don't seem very funny to me. As I read, I felt my blood start to boil just a little. This was a blog post about a toddler who insisted upon waking up every two hours during the night for one whole week. It's the worst nightmare I could imagine, explained the exasperated author as she went on to describe the level of sleep deprivation that she was facing. This is all coming off the heels of another similarly titled blog post I read a few days ago in which that author's idea of a worst nightmare was her child jumping in mud puddles at the park and getting dirt all over her new shoes and her dress. That author asked readers for advice on how to get her toddler to be more conscious about appearance and avoiding mud puddles. Certainly they couldn't run to the grocery store after playing if the child had mud caked on their feet. Before that came a shared post about a mother who didn't even remember what a "break from her kids" felt like.

The thing is, I was an attached parent before I lost Wylie. The only difference is then everyone just thought I was weird. They made jokes about me needing to "cut the cord" and do things for myself because apparently by putting my everything into Ethan, I was doing the parenting thing wrong. Now, people have decided to cut me a little slack in the sarcasm department. They blame my attachment on having lost a child. Maybe my perspective has changed a little bit (Oh? You want a break from your child? Let me fill you in on what a lifetime, eternal break from your child feels like, you...you...okay, you get the point) but my parenting style hasn't really changed. Ethan screamed his way into the world and I began questioning the detachment that has swept up our society as a whole. I mean, by the time Ethan turned one people were asking me if I'd enrolled him in school yet. As Ethan's similarly aged pals are enrolled in VPK and now await their first year of school, my family now sits even further on the front lines of criticism. I've got to give my husband credit. He's not as seasoned as I am in this. His freak flag didn't start flying until Ethan came along.

I mean, these are children. Is it really the job of a four year old to remain conscious of mud puddles and work diligently at keeping themselves clean on the playground? Did anyone really sign up for parenthood with the expectations to sleep soundly during the night and present themselves at the grocery store with well-coiffed hair and clean, ironed clothing? I mean, sleep deprivation is no joke and parenting is the most intense, challenging job on the planet but these are your babies, for crying out loud. They need you right now. Realize that they won't need you for long. One day, they won't want to jump in puddles or dig holes in the sand or laugh as their new khaki shorts sop up the dirty water at the bottom of a slide. One day, they won't want to show their faces in public with chocolate mouths or sticky watermelon fingers or remnants of a great day of play stained on their knees and soles. One day, your children will wake up in the night, turn on their light and read a book until they fall back asleep. They won't need you. They won't require your arms and the feel of your heartbeat against their cheek. But right now, they need these things.

I'm not sure if our time in the baby having phase is numbered. I'm not sure if this is that transitional period from baby having to child raising or if I'm going to pull a stunt like my mother and pop out a baby when Ethan is gearing up for middle school. Uncertainty terrifies me (oh, what an understatement that is) but it also gives me some added perspective. It all passes. Every day that I witness Ethan jumping in mud puddles or asking to hold my hand -- whether at three in the afternoon or three in the morning -- I realize how grateful I am for the opportunity to watch him grow and love him, comfort him and nurture him anytime that he needs me. I've lived a nightmare worse than sleepless nights and dirty clothing. The ability to run my hands through my son's hair at night hours past his bedtime is the fuel that keeps the world spinning.

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i know a thing about sadness

When I was a kid, my parents read me a story from a Frog & Toad collection. It was one in which one of the two main characters makes a list of things he has to do that day and his list blows away in the wind. He's in distress, devastated and confused and not sure what else he had to do that day. As a small child, probably not much older than Ethan, this caused me to burst into tears. (This was probably also the first warning sign I was going to be quite familiar with anxiety -- my heart sure felt that poor frog's anxious little heart deeply.) Even as an adult, I can't see the cover of that storybook collection without getting goosebumps and remembering the emotional trauma that a silly story about two amphibians caused me. I mean, he was so sad! The same can be said for Puff The Magic Dragon, a song my dad brought home one day on cassette tape for me to listen to, (wrongly) thinking I would find it magical. Well, that moment when Jackie Paper didn't come back for Puff anymore, it about killed me. My dad tried to calm me down by explaining that Puff wasn't even a real dragon and it's not to be taken literally but nothing helped. My sister still thinks it's funny to play the song in front of me just to watch my inevitable emotional breakdown.

Ethan has that. The sensitive, anxious, emotional thing. He can read books in which a character is sad and he'll have to slowly wipe his tears away, his lip quivering as he tries to make sense of all this sadness. "He's so sad, mommy. I don't want him to be sad."

It's not uncommon for me to see the hurt eyes and lip quiver on a regular basis. "Mommy, I know that sadness goes away but right now the sadness is really big in my heart." "Mommy, my feelings are hurt and I don't know how to make the sadness go away." "Mommy, I'm okay, but my heart just feels a little sad right now."

For something so familiar to me, something that comes so natural, it feels so foreign when it's happening to Ethan and I don't know how to stop it. His pain and sadness cuts me deeper than my own pain and sadness does. I'm slowly learning that you can't stop it. That's the thing about sadness, you just have to feel it and let it do its thing. Some people feel awkward around sadness. Others have the ability to tune it out. Some just brush it off and move on. Others, those people like Ethan and I, feel it deeply with every ounce of their body.

Now, as a bereaved parent, I'm constantly on the receiving end of the "there, there" pats on the back that basically mean just take your sadness elsewhere, it's uncomfortable for me. I want better for Ethan. I want better for him when he's experiencing these intense and confusing feelings, and I want better for him in terms of knowing how to treat sadness in other people. I want him to know it's really freaking sad that the dragon felt lonely when his friend didn't come back for him. I also want him to know he can talk to me about the sadness in his heart, even if it's something that seems so silly to everyone around him (the instance in which one of his Lego people took an unintentional and unannounced covert vacation to my mom's house comes to mind). And if one day one of his friends are going through their own tragedy, I want him to know how to react to the sadness of others. Recognizing someone's sadness isn't enough and, in some way, I feel like at three years old he understands that more than so many adults I've encountered.

I grew up dreading my own sensitivity, knowing that it didn't take much for something to sting at my heart and leave a scar. It was sort of the opposite of having that thick skin everyone encourages you to have once you hit puberty and the playgrounds at school somehow morph into war zones. In Ethan, though, I admire it. I fear it and I admit fully that his sadness brings me sadness, but I admire it. It takes bravery to feel so deeply. He is braver than he knows, even in those instances where he feels so afraid and unsure and the world around him just feels so very big. Bravery and emotion go hand in hand, and this is something I want him to know. It's something that is so often challenged in childhood when it feels easier to tell our children how they're feeling ("you're okay") rather than listening to how they're actually feeling.

Sometimes I prematurely worry for Ethan's teen years when I'm sure his heart will break at least as often as mine did. I have lost count of the boys who have broken my heart, the friends who made me feel unloved and left out as I stumbled my way through teenager-dom. I worry for all of the times he will be told to get over it, let it go, you're fine. I worry because I know firsthand that this world won't find his heart half as beautiful as I do. And, still, I believe in the beauty that is his heart. I believe in his feelings and sentimentality. I believe the world will be a better place because of the warmth and feeling that he pours into every day. I believe that he is brave for exposing so much of his heart to the world. The right people will be attracted to that warmth and bravery.

And, I truly believe, his compassion will go on to change the world and make it more beautiful than he could ever imagine.

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this season

For whatever reason, this spring has felt hotter than summers past and our days have felt so chaotic and hard to schedule. I go through these phases where I feel so behind on everything and then those where I feel like I actually have at least an hour of free time at night before I inevitably pass out. Right now I'm in one of those "so behind" phases which is unsurprisingly coming off the tails of my husband's busy time at work. Ethan has had some issues with sleeping the past couple of weeks (which, not to jinx it entirely, seem to have ended two nights ago) and our house is really just one big state of chaos.

This blog has been quiet and it bothers me so. I feel like I have so much to say but no time to say it and, when I do find the time, I'm seriously lacking the energy to stay awake another minute. You know, something about balance which is really a foreign word to me and I'm afraid I'll never understand the meaning or, at the very least, how to achieve it.


As Ethan steps even closer to turning four, I find myself so blown away by him. All of him. He's been my buddy since birth, my partner in all that I do. These days, though, he just feels so much like a real boy. I never mind the eight hundred times per night wake-ups or the early mornings because I know they're fleeting. Exhausting as they are, even the days that fall after the sleepless nights -- the ones that feel like a complete shitshow of tears and tantrums -- require me to scoop up my little boy and hold him until the tears stop. I know I'm on the verge of losing these moments and I cherish them all.

Sometimes I wonder if parenting after loss has changed me in this way. I like self-deprecation and exhausted mama jokes as much as the next person, but give me these moments. Give me these no nap days and sleepless nights. Give me this time to actually feel my baby boy breathing and hear his wants and whines. Give me these stretch marks and eye bags and this caffeine addiction because it means that I am parenting this whirlwind of a child who is still so surreal to me. It's hard to get behind the jokes and memes and blog posts about sending kids back or to grandma's or wishing kids were somehow different than they are (slept more, cried less). Maybe if things were different, I could laugh, too.

It's been almost a year since I've begun feeling like I'm living in a parallel universe. I'm always wondering how much of what I do has begun to be shaped by loss and this new perspective I've been carrying around for just about a year now. Regardless, I am overcome with disbelief and gratitude that I get to parent Ethan and watch him grow. Four. I cannot believe he is nearly four years old.

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be in my heart

It's April and that means our garage, living room and dining room table have all begun to be buried with odds and ends that, at some point, will hopefully transform into Ethan's birthday party decorations. As soon as April rolled in, I've found myself doing the "this time last year" comparison a little too much. We're sort of at the cusp of that point in time where life went from awesome to terrifying to tragic and unrecognizable. Somehow focusing on Ethan's birthday party helps with the mood around here. At least mine. My husband remains sweet and patient as we're forced to eat dinner around Ethan's Lego table because the spray paint cans and homemade cake stands and other odds and ends take up our entire dining room table at this point.

Ethan has come to share my enthusiasm towards party planning or, at the very least, his own birthday plans. He's so concerned with the little details and the guest list and the cake and the decorations and everything else that we've pinned and admired and thought up and attempted to recreate. I see you, "parents throw these parties for themselves" grumps, and I'm laughing back at you now.

Anyway, the time is ticking on. I'm caught between the now and the this time last year a lot. Sometimes grief makes it impossible to stop comparing, even when it's past midnight and you just want to fall asleep. This time last year, we were painting her nursery.

To survive the long afternoons and the already unbearable heat, we have joined our city's pools. Ethan could spend hours in the water and managed to befriend a little girl who is a couple of years older than he is. She asked him, innocently enough, if he had any brothers or sisters. "No. Just cats," he explained before asking for her help in perfecting his backfloat. These are the exchanges that catch me off guard and bring reality to the fantasy world that I like to create in my mind. In actuality, Ethan had no concept of pregnancy or birth or death or anything that happened and so, as far as he knows, it's just him. Just him and I during these long days, these amazing days, these hard days. Just him and I.

I may or may not have pinned twenty additional projects to Ethan's fourth birthday party board that night as a result, though.

These days feel somewhat smooth and rehearsed and yet also like each hour is part of some adjustment period. These days are the same and yet so vastly different from anything I imagined. Sometimes all I can do is look up at the face behind those little hands meticulously selecting the best postage stamps for his birthday party invitations and know that it is his heart keeping mine beating, his heart keeping mine whole.

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easter 2015

Easter has come and gone, more or less. Ethan is combating the inevitable meltdown that occurs from too much chocolate and too little sleep. There are little bits of the Easter Bunny's visit still scattered across the house, on the table; eggs and plastic grass and matchbox cars and other goodies that Ethan couldn't wait to pull out of his basket this morning and while smiling at the very thought of the bunny having paid him a visit. As a nonreligious family, Easter, to us, is about the bunny and spring and the joy of surprises -- and I stayed up well past my bedtime last night ensuring there was a little bit of each of these components scheduled into Ethan's Easter today.

The holidays are hard. Perhaps they will always be hard (I don't doubt they will always be impossibly hard), but I've dreaded all of the firsts. This is the first Easter that Wylie should have been here and wasn't. It was the first time that the table was void of an Easter basket for Ethan's little sister, no eggs filled with puffs or teething biscuits or bubble bath or all of the things that I stuffed into Ethan's basket during his infancy. I know that moms who "do it all" get a lot of flack on the internet. We get lots of angry HuffPo articles skewed towards us, letting us know the way that we ruin Easter for the other moms who maybe don't find so much joy in the little details. For me, more than the joy that I happen to find in the over the top intricacies, is the joy that paints itself on Ethan's face. It's the way he turns the plastic eggs over in his hands. It's the excitement when he pops an M&M -- contraband -- into his mouth and lets the chocolatey spit run down his lips. It's the way he turns his new books over in his hands and holds his new stuffed animals close and the way he squeals with unrivaled excitement at the thought of the Easter bunny having hid the eggs he colored in his front yard. These are all simple joys that Wylie will never experience. She will never come bursting out of her room at the crack of dawn in desperate and frantic excitement to see what the bunny has left for her on the table. She will never twist open a plastic egg and remove vials of glitter or chalk and plot out future masterpieces. She will experience none of it and, so, letting Ethan experience all of it is some kind of therapy for my heart. My heart that aches and weighs down in my chest a little more on days like these. Firsts, and always.

As the one year anniversary of Wylie's birth and death approaches, I find my anxiety level higher than it has been in some time. I've struggled with anxiety for most of my life but have been able to more or less control it during the course of my adult years, at least until now. Now I feel the stress throb in my temples as I realize that I cannot stop May from approaching. I cannot stop May 23rd from showing up. And more than the firsts, I wonder how the holidays feel during that overlap, the time when they are no longer firsts. When they become routine. When my world is so very without her, again.

Ethan spent his day immersed in bunny pancakes and chocolate and toy cars and egg hunts and a trip to the movies to see Home with his daddy and just joy. So much joy. The level of joy that causes toddlers to max out and give in to the sugar crash and exhaustion. His joy is worth so much and even more so on holidays when no one will convince me that the world doesn't revolve around his laughter. Mine does. Oh, does mine ever.

It's a strange place to be, this limbo. I can laugh with Ethan and experience the joy of his happiest Easter ever (which he says it is each year right before the sugar crash kicks in) while also feeling lost. I can feel both complete and incomplete. Full and also empty, watching my beautiful boy run around the yard while his sister sits as ash in an urn on top of my mantle missing every moment of the celebration. I usually feel as if I'm able to steer this wayward ship straight enough to fool an outsider but on holidays, on the days leading up to holidays, I often feel back at square one. And somewhere in the mess of missing my baby girl, I am able to say that it was a wonderful Easter having lived through Ethan's joy. I am living solely for his joy as his happiness is my own. His happiness is everything. And, for that, it was a wonderful Easter.

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