My Halloween Baby is Turning FIVE

My Halloween Baby is Turning FIVE

My Halloween Baby is Five

My Halloween Baby is Five

It is unfathomable that my first baby is turning FIVE in only two days! Jethro’s due date was October 31st, but I swore throughout my entire pregnancy that the odds of him being born on Halloween would be null.  Not only was Jethro born on time, he made his grand entrance into the world just after 8 PM EST.  As people all around the nation were going door to door dressed up in their costumes and trick-o-treating, copious amounts of candy thrown into interminable bins, I was busy pushing out a 7 lb, 8 oz baby boy.

With Jethro’s birthday only two days away, I have partnered up with Pediatric Sleep Consultant, Carolina Romanyuk to share some sleep tips, not just for Halloween, but also as we approach Daylight Savings. I don’t know about you, but I still have sleep issues with my three-year old, Brooks; he simply refuses to sleep without me.  I am one of those moms who must stay in bed with their kids until they fall asleep, night after night.  Not only is this not healthy anymore for them as they get older, it is affecting my own personal time and any hope for quiet moments with the hubby.  I envy my friends who can tuck their kids into bed, give them a kiss goodnight, and close the door. I could list the million things I would be able to do before falling asleep if I had it that good. On the other spectrum, I am the mom who sneaks out of her kids’ bedroom – when I don’t fall asleep with them – only to be dragged back into their bed a few hours later when they wake up a realize I am missing. It is a vicious cycle, and I know it has to end.

Hopefully your sleep schedule and routine is better than mine.  I would love to hear any advice you may have!

Below are a few tips to help you with your kid(s) sleep this fall.

Halloween Sleep Health Tips:

  1. After a long evening of fun and candy eating kids are wired. Their cortisol levels are up sky high requiring outside factors to help their body start the wind down process for sleep. Instead of crashing in front of the TV, one thing they can do is wind down by listening to sleep stories. A favorite, Moshi Twilight for kids, is highly beneficial. www.Moshi-Twilight.com
  2. If a child is amped up after watching a scary part of a movie, tell them to just imagine that when the scene is done, the Director says “CUT” and the goblins, witches, or whomever all stroll to the snack bar and start chatting and eating chips. It lets them know that it is all make believe and is all done for fun. You can even use YouTube to show the child what the backstage of the movie set looks like with those actors and characters.
  3. Halloween is all in the head and plays with emotions. The adrenaline rush of the fear is what people gravitate to. For kids, especially sensitive ones, what can work well is to have them recreate a scary image into a funny one. For example, they can visualize a scary monster now dressed in maybe a hot pink tutu, a glittery bow and bright pink nails who now dances lightly all around.
  4. Plan for an early bedtime the next day.
  5. Wind down the body with a story in the background. Using your sense of hearing of soothing sounds connects your body and mind to start to wind down.
  6. Talk about the experience when bedtime is approaching
  7. Dim the lights in the room

Daylight Savings Sleep Health Tips:

This time of year of course everything shifts later. Bedtime moves one hour later than normal. It is generally far easier to fall asleep one hour after your normal bedtime, than one hour prior (for Spring).

For babies around 8 months plus, they can’t adjust with such a long awake time. Shifting their schedule every few days by 15 minutes is an effective gradual route. Focusing heavy on their routine should be soothing, using tools like darkness and winding their mind and body down with sleep stories, such as the app Moshi Twilight. www.Moshi-Twilight.com

Side note: when using sleep stories electronically, place the device under the covers or flat down and away from eye sight so the screen isn’t visible. The blue light that emits from the screen is what suppresses our sleep hormone.

Here’s how you can adjust bedtime a few days before the time change:

15 minute incremental adjustments. Bedtime becomes 7:00, 7:15, 7:30, 8:00 PM, which by the post-DST clock is the “new” 7:00 PM. The same happens in the morning – 6:00, 6:15, 6:30, 7:00 AM (try to leave them in bed until your target wake-time). In four days, your child has adjusted to the new daylight savings.

For older children this is fun because they get to go to bed an hour later. So if your baby previously slept from 7:00 PM – 6:00 AM, they’re now going to bed at 7:00 PM (clock time, 8:00 PM body time) and sleeping till 5:00 AM (clock time, 6:00 AM body time) for a net loss of 1 hour. It can take a few days to adjust to this shift but most do fairly readily within a week.

My Halloween Baby is Five

How to Satisfy Your Love of Reading Without Spending a Dollar

How to Satisfy Your Love of Reading Without Spending a Dollar

Last week I was introduced to Libby.  Libby is a cool chick and our relationship comes with a lot of benefits, but I have to admit, it is very one-sided. Let me explain. Last Friday, I went to the Largo Public Library – which is beautiful by the way and warrants its own post – and my life was forever changed.  I know that sounds dramatic, but hear me out.  As someone who reads a lot for school and for pleasure, I buy a lot of books. My husband is a big reader and so are my two little boys. We all love reading and we probably love buying books as much as reading them – I come from the school of thought that reading should be tangible and that there is nothing like holding a book in your hands and flipping through its pages. There is an inexplicable joy that comes from holding a book, yet I also recognize the value in e-books and audiobooks.

I have had the discussion with several friends of mine about the trends away from physical books as ebooks and audiobooks, in particular, become the busybody’s preferred choice for digesting tombs.  I have always been a visual and kinesthetic learner, but as I get older and find myself multi-tasking more and more, audiobooks have a special place in my arsenal of reading materials. That is where Libby comes in.

As I drove my car into the parking lot of the Largo Public Library and fixed my eyes on the brightly colored BookMobile parked just outside, I was instantly excited to unearth what lay beyond its doors. I had asked my friend Joy to come and experience the BookMobile with me and she was just as captivated as I was the moment we pulled up. The scenery was beautiful, but there was something about the big bright bus that made us want to know more.

When we walked into the BookMobile, there were screens, large and small throughout.  The traveling exhibit was on tour around the country to introduce Libby to citizens near and far. See, Libby isn’t an actual person, she is a virtual one, and she just so happens to be one of my new besties. At first, the idea of an app where I would have to borrow books seemed elusive and complicated, but the more I played with it the more excited I became.  What enthralled me the most was the exponential amount of money I would be able to save by using the resources offered by my own public library.  Instead of spending hundreds of dollars a month on books, some that I may want to read and reread and some that I will never want to give a second glance, the idea of borrowing books via an app became even more appealing.

Want to meet Libby? Check her out here at Meet.LibbyApp.com. You can also learn more about Libby on OverDrive.com, her creator’s website.  OverDrive, birthed Libby with an exorbitant amount of love and you can tell.  I highly encourage you to check out their website and learn more.

Since Friday, I have already downloaded several books for myself and my sons.  They have a really cool feature where some of their children’s books are narrated, which is super duper awesome when you are on the road and want your kids to read in the car but said kids are only three and four and therefore unable to read without some help. I was also able to download a book in about two seconds after fellow blogger, Katie Warner suggested one related to the Sunday Liturgy of the week.  The book was Roxy the Ritzy Camel by Anthony DeStefano – I totally recommend the book in case you’re wondering.

I even got my husband in on the fun! He has been trying to read the book Give and Take by Adam Grant for over three months after a colleague gave it to him, but with all his other commitments, including family, he hasn’t had time to sit down and read it.  He set out to look for the audiobook on Libby and he found it! He had to place a hold on it but after only 24-hours it was ready and automatically added to our “shelf.”  The convenience of having it on audio afforded us the opportunity to listen to about thirty minutes in the car today just while running errands with the kids and we didn’t have to spend a dollar! It was a win-win.

I am telling you, this is life changing for us. I have a lot of friends who love to read on their Kindle and Libby will even send the books to your preferred device.  What more could you want from a girl?! I told you the relationship is very one-sided.

Below are a bunch of pictures Joy and I took while visiting the BookMobile.  I want to know if you have tried Libby or if you have visited the BookMobile.  Please share your thoughts and experiences with me! Happy reading and listening.


This was cross-posted on Dama Camelia.

The magical lives of kids.

The magical lives of kids.

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I was driving in the car with my mother the other day and she said:

“I just now feel like I could be in my thirties.”

My sister and I have always joked that my mom thinks she is a teenager.  She is young at heart, despite her body telling her otherwise.  At thirty-one, I am starting to identify with what she has been telling us all these years. Time may dictate that we get older, but that doesn’t mean we have to feel older. If it wasn’t for the responsibility that has followed me down the brick road to marriage, homeownership, and motherhood, I would still feel like I was in my early twenties. The fact that I can even write this as if I am not ACTUALLY still twenty is flabbergasting.

I have always believed age to be nothing more than a number, but now I am living it as truth. Our mindset is what dictates the illusive timeline of our lives. We hold the power more than we realize. As I witness the development of my children, I find myself reflecting on my life and the moments that I wish I would’ve been more present.  As a society, we are always on the go, but last night I was sitting on the couch with Brooks while he watched Batman, and time seemingly stopped.

Night had fallen around us, and the wind picked up as a large storm swept through the area. The trees were dancing while the thunder and lightning put on a show. All the while, I was sitting cuddled up with my little Brooksie, David and Jethro in the dining room doing yet another puzzle.  It was way past bedtime, need not mention bathtime, but it didn’t matter.  We were enjoying the moment. Simply being with one another. Bath time and bedtime, inevitable yet inconsequential.

We get wrapped up in our daily chores and the grind that is life, all too often.  But these moments, the ones where you can just be still, look in your babies eyes and think, I created you, in absolute astonishment – just like I did last night – are priceless. One day – God-willing- I am going to open my eyes, slowly get out of bed, and wonder where my babies went. They will be in their own homes, maybe even married with babies of their own. That is par for the course. Growing older is not something to dread, it is a privilege afforded to us by a life well lived. We need to thank our lucky stars EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. for simply waking up a day older and hopefully, wiser.

At some point in our lives, we let the flame inside our hearts extinguish, getting wrapped up in the mundane and focused on anything and everything that can be burdensome. Children, on the other hand, live lives full of magic. Remember your imaginary brother? I do. I used to reprimand him all the time. HAHA  My kids spend hours playing with their imagination. Half the time Brooks is Batman, and Jethro is Superman. To them, I am Wonder Woman and David is Flash. You can’t help but love the innocence enkindled at their core and their desire to be inventive. As far as they are concerned, the sky is the limit and there is nothing holding them back from being everything they hunger to be and more. As years pass, sometimes that magic sticks with us and other times it dissipates, regardless, we all have it inside. If we can keep this in mind as a token of our youth, maybe we can stay kids forever.

Jethro learning archery

Jethro learning archery

Here comes batman(s)!

Here comes Batman(s)!

He is SWAT!

He is SWAT!

Watch out, cowboys! The Sheriff is in town.

Watch out, cowboys! The Sheriff is in town.

We Want to Go To Daddy’s Game!

We Want to Go To Daddy’s Game!

Today the boys got their first look at daddy managing a baseball game. Although we only made it through about three innings because of the Florida heat, and the boys weren’t entirely sure why daddy wasn’t playing, it was a milestone for us! This is David’s second year coaching and first year as a manager.  We are still getting adjusted to life away from playing, but this new adventure has been a blessing to our family.  (more…)

Where Dreams Come True: A Reunion at Disney

Where Dreams Come True: A Reunion at Disney

I have been MIA the last few weeks, and I am sorry.  My life has been sequestered by important life-altering decisions and commitments. Fortunately, I have surfaced on the other side of the mountain where light is everpresent and now I can focus my energies on following my bliss!

I haven’t had time to share much online since I spent all of last week at Saint Leo University, immersed in my writing program.  Because I decided to go back to school to get my Master of Arts degree in a low-residency program, I have one week per year where I actually need to go to campus; the rest of the program is done via long-distance learning. As a mom, this has been the best arrangement for my family and it is the primary reason I chose to study at Saint Leo. Anyway, I was given the gift of time spent on campus with peers and professors, all while learning how to become more mature writers and readers, and ultimately better literary citizens. I have one year of studies left before I graduate and I am hoping I will be able to make the very best of it given my primary commitments as a mom and wife.

Because I have been in school and working two part-time jobs, our family has been blessed to have David living at home. Due to the fact that he started his coaching career with the Yankees’ Gulf Coast League, he is home every evening and has Sundays off. For a baseball wife, this is huge!! I have grown accustomed to him working 24/7 with a sporadic off-day during the regular season. This change in trajectory means that he is home to support me while I find time to study and write, and he never misses a chance to celebrate milestones, including birthdays with us. As a summer baby, I considered myself lucky when my birthday fell in the middle of a homestand. So cheers to this! YAY.

Since we knew David would be around more, we bought annual passes to Disney World this year.  As an introvert and someone who rather stay home reading or watching a movie, I wasn’t in a rush to take the boys to Disney, but at David’s insistence and since we live so close, we bit the bullet.  We bought the passes the last week of 2017 and have already taken several trips, often leaving after a game on Saturday and returning on Sunday.  The drive to Orlando is less than two hours from our house, so we can drive over just for the day, which we did on Father’s Day.  It has worked out incredibly well and the boys are super happy – and spoiled. Although we have had a lot of fun visiting Disney every few weeks, I am not sure if we will buy annual passes every year. Because of David’s schedule, the only option that makes sense for us is to buy the Platinum Passes with no blockout dates, which is why they end up being quite a lot of moola.  Nevertheless, if you can afford it, they are worth every penny.

Bringing this around full circle, since the last day of my writing residency fell on Brooks’ 3rd birthday, July 21st, I asked the director of the program, Steve Kistulentz, if it would be okay to miss the day, allowing me to spend it with the family. Since we already had passes –  and because what three-year-old doesn’t want to spend their birthday at Disney World –  David and I made plans to celebrate this occasion at The Happiest Place on Earth. We invited our parents and my sister to join us. Not only was this an opportunity for birthday fun, the boys were going to meet their baby cousin – as they love to call him – for the first time.

My sister and I hardly see each other since I moved to Tampa and my boys still had not met their baby cousin, so what better time than the present?! My mother has been speaking endlessly about getting us together so that the boys can finally meet. My greatest dream, she says. Nothing would make her happier than seeing us all united as a family, setting aside any differences we may have, for the sake of peace and the boys. As I have learned this past month, life is short, and it is important to make time for the things that truly matter.

Looking back now, I can say with certainty that I spent the past week following dreams and spending time in the Happiest Places on Earth, the classroom, and Disney. Although I am not sure it would be in that order. Depends on who you talk to. 😉



My Kids Have Allergies and Eczema, So These Are the Only Diapers I Use

My Kids Have Allergies and Eczema, So These Are the Only Diapers I Use

DisclosureSome of the links below are Affiliate Links. Therefore, at no additional cost to you, if you click through and make a purchase, I will earn a commission. 

I was compelled to write this post to help other mamas out.  The struggle to find a good diaper is real and for those of us who spend hours researching the best options out there, this is a real-life testimony.

From the moment I had my first son, I “swaddled” him in Pampers.  I tried a bunch of different brands, including Huggies, Luvs, and Honest Co., but by far my favorite diapers were Pamper’s Swaddlers. I used them for the first eighteen months of Jethro’s life, that is, until they started leaking. I have no proof, but I am convinced that sometime around 2015, Pampers changed their manufacturing process. I would call it their “formula,” but I am not sure that is the appropriate term. All I know is that the diapers I once loved, started failing.

With Jethro close to turning two, and another baby on the way, I set out on a mission to find a diaper that would solve our problems but what I discovered was so much more than that.  Initially, the most important factor I cared about was that whatever diapers I chose would last through the night and save me incessant laundry woes.  Jethro is four now, and I must admit, I still have him wearing diapers to sleep.  This is something a lot of moms I know deal with: their fully potty-trained kids, still pee through a diaper at night. Does that mean they aren’t actually fully-trained? Argh! I am not sure when I will be able to nix the use of a diaper with him, but he is getting awfully big, and at a solid forty-five pounds, I am afraid that he will soon outgrow the largest size available.

But cutting to the chase… which diapers are the only ones I use for my boys? Why, Bambo Nature, of course?  Oh, you haven’t heard of them, you say?  Well, if that is the case, you are missing out! As parents, we are inundated with commercials and other marketing tactics, proving the industry is saturated with brands eager to gain our attention, and for many families, the companies that are most visible to us can be a great fit. Nevertheless, I am here to tell you that there are other options out there!

Keep reading and I will share the reasons why I settled on Bambo Nature as my trusted brand.


Bambo Nature USA

They are By Far the Most Absorbent Diapers

Between 2013 and 2015, I had tried many different diapers, but the quality of Bambo Nature remained unmatched.  These diapers are by far the strongest and most absorbent of any other that I tested on my babies. A simple search for absorbancy led me down a rabbit hole that I was afraid I would never find a way out of, but after trial and error, Bambo Nature has earned my loyalty and I haven’t felt the need to look elsewhere.

They are Eco-Friendly and Can Prove It

This is the rabbit hole I was talking about… With two boys that suffer from allergies and one that has moderate to severe Eczema, the manufacturing process quickly became my number one concern. Not only is Bambo Nature a good steward of the environment, their products are 100% safe for children, free of chemicals and additives. (Crazy I have to say “safe for children,” I know, but have you seen the chemicals they put in children’s products these days?!)

Unlike a lot of brands that shall remain nameless, Bambo Nature put their money where their mouth is.  They are truly eco-friendly and by saying so, it is not just a marketing ploy; they have certifications backing them up.  Certified by The Nordic EcoLabel, Asthma- Allergy Denmark, The Forest Stewardship Council, and ECOCERT, all while sporting the Dermatologically Tested seal, Bambo Nature is a better alternative to most diapers you will find on the market.

They are a Family-Owned Company

Unlike most diaper brands, which are owned by huge corporations, Bambo Nature is family-owned.  They care about your family as if it were their own. Cliche? It sounds like it, but it is true. They understand that the safety of the products that we use on our children is paramount; it is simple and they. just. get. it.

If you are looking for a safer alternative to your diapers, want to purchase from a company that many moms like me are falling in love with, and don’t want to sacrifice quality for safety, I highly encourage you to give Bambo Nature a try.  I purchase mine by subscribing and saving, so I never have to worry about running out of diapers and it saves our family money because these diapers are by no means the cheapest.

To get you started, here are the products I am currently using and recommending to everyone I know.

Size 5 Diapers


I finallyyyy succeeded at potty-training my youngest, although he still refuses to poop at school and it’s not unusual for him to require a wardrobe change when I drop him off at summer camp, BUT, I’m still calling it a win because he isn’t yet three!  Anyhow, these are the diaper sizes we have been using the past year and are still using at night.  Brooks is 35 lbs, will be turning three later this month and we are using the size 5s.  This is a great size that the kiddos tend to stay in for a while; we switched over from using the 4s shortly after he turned two.

The size 6 diapers are what I am currently using with my 4-year-old, Jethro.  Prior to moving up to the size 6, he was using the 5s for well over a year.  He is a big boy and still fits into these, although I better get him sleeping without diapers at night soon because at the rate he is growing, I might have to switch to Depends.  Unfortunately, he is one to pee A LOT at night, despite cutting his water intake before bed and forcing him to use the potty when he insists he doesn’t have to. Mmmhmmm, sure you don’t. I love that despite my kids refusing to wake up at night to pee, these hold up remarkably well.  I’ll need to take pictures of the MASSIVE diapers I take off my boys every morning – I swear they weigh as much as a newborn!

Size 6 Diapers

Lastly, I wanted to share the gorgeous gift box you see below; it has become my new go-to gift for new parents.  It includes diapers (available in size 1 and 2), wipes, and skincare products – everything you need for a newborn. I suggest this to all my mom friends as the perfect addition to their baby registry!

Well, that’s it! If you have used Bambo Nature or you decide to try them, let me know your thoughts by commenting below or reaching out to me via social media.  I would love to hear about your experience with them!


Much love,



Gift Box