Motherhood is: Forgetting to move the Elf on the Shelf

I'm sorry for the time I left you in the refrigerator for 48 hours.

Motherhood is: Forgetting to move the Elf on the Shelf

Dear Elf on the Shelf,

You've been with our family for a few years, so you know by now that I love Christmas. I really do. I love everything about it, in fact.

I start 'keeping an eye out for deals' in August.

I LOVE wrapping Christmas presents.

Matching Christmas PJs are a requirement in my home.

I love it all. But I owe you an apology. Because though I am really good at Christmas, I am really bad at you.

You see, when I brought you into our lives a few years back, I did so with Pinterest grandeur. You were promised endless mornings of creative hilarity and mischievous shenanigans, surrounded by a family in matching sweaters and perfectly warmed cups of hot cocoa.

I even—wait for it—bought a photo album where I planned to document all of your antics year after year. Which I did. For three days.

Because you did not get a Pinterest mom—you got me.

(In my defense, I did save you from being named 'Hairy Elbow' by a creative 3-year-old. Yes, it is your middle name, but at least we landed on 'Hats' as a first name, so that was pretty clutch of me. #Truestory)

But still, I am sorry.

I'm sorry that you sat on the same shelf for four days in a row last year, and that we blamed it on you for being 'tired' and 'silly.' I was the tired and silly one, Hats Hairy Elbow, not you. Thanks for taking the fall.

I'm sorry that my kids are too creeped out by you to let you upstairs while they're sleeping, so you're quarantined to the first floor of our house, probably forever. It's that smile, dude—sorry.

I'm sorry you live in my underwear drawer 11 months out of the year. It's the only place you're safe.

I'm sorry I can't enforce the 'don't touch the elf' rule. If my daughter thought that by touching you she inflicted some kind of injury upon you, it would legit ruin Christmas for the next three years.

I'm sorry for the time I left you in the refrigerator for 48 hours.

I'm sorry that we got a puppy this year, and that he will probably eat you. I promise to invent a tale of true heroism about how you died saving Christmas, while I wait for your replacement elf to be delivered by Amazon.

I'm sorry that your friends all have cute outfits and accessories, but the closest I ever came to that was the time I wrapped dental floss around your torso—the kids thought it was hilarious though.

I am sorry that you will never be featured in blog posts inspiring other elves' charades, and that this, my apology letter, is your 15 minutes of fame.

Because, you got me—I'm not a "I'm sorry for the mess my kids were making memories" kind of mom. I'm more of a "I'm sorry for the mess I was just too darn tired to clean" kind of mom.

And you, Sir Hats Hairy Elbow, have had to bear the burden of that.

But I want you to know that despite it all, we really do love you.

In the chaos of our lives, you remind us that it doesn't have to be perfect to be absolutely magical.

I'm not sure we have ever laughed as hard as when our daughter decided that she wanted to name you Hairy Elbow—that will forever be one of my favorite Christmas memories.

Every time I open my underwear drawer and see your little face (albeit a little creepy) I smile, because you instantly make me think about the joy of this time of year, and this tradition that we are making our own—even though I am terrible at it.

When I forget to move you, it's usually because I am exhausted from a full day of getting to be a mom to my awesome kids.

And though your schemes are not in the least elaborate, my children's eyes are still wide with sparkling wonder every morning as they search for you, and their squeals of pure delight when they find you are some of the sweetest sounds I know.

Because the truth is that my kids don't need perfect. They just need me, as I am. Together we are magic enough.



P.S. Please try not to let the dog eat you, because in thinking about it, that would also probably ruin Christmas for the next three years.

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They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

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Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.


Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!


Detective set

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This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.


Wooden doll stroller

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Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.


Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.


Water play set

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Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.


Mini golf set

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Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.


Vintage scooter balance bike

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Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.


Wooden rocking pegasus

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Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.


Croquet set

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The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.


Wooden digital camera

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Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.


Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.


Pull-along hippo

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There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.


Baby forest fox ride-on

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Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.


We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.


This is my one trick to get baby to sleep (and it always works!)

There's a reason why every mom tells you to buy a sound machine.

So in my defense, I grew up in Florida. As a child of the sunshine state, I knew I had to check for gators before sitting on the toilet, that cockroaches didn't just scurry, they actually flew, and at that point, the most popular and only sound machine I had ever heard of was the Miami Sound Machine.

I was raised on the notion that the rhythm was going to get me, not lull me into a peaceful slumber. Who knew?!

Well evidently science and, probably, Gloria Estefan knew, but I digress.

When my son was born, I just assumed the kid would know how to sleep. When I'm tired that's what I do, so why wouldn't this smaller more easily exhausted version of me not work the same way? Well, the simple and cinematic answer is, he is not in Kansas anymore.

Being in utero is like being in a warm, soothing and squishy spa. It's cozy, it's secure, it comes with its own soundtrack. Then one day the spa is gone. The space is bigger, brighter and the constant stream of music has come to an abrupt end. Your baby just needs a little time to acclimate and a little assist from continuous sound support.

My son, like most babies, was a restless and active sleeper. It didn't take much to jolt him from a sound sleep to crying like a banshee. I once microwaved a piece of pizza, and you would have thought I let 50 Rockettes into his room to perform a kick line.

I was literally walking on eggshells, tiptoeing around the house, watching the television with the closed caption on.

Like adults, babies have an internal clock. Unlike adults, babies haven't harnessed the ability to hit the snooze button on that internal clock. Lucky for babies they have a great Mama to hit the snooze button for them.

Enter the beloved by all—sound machines.

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Being a stay-at-home-mom can be incredibly lonely. I like to think that by drawing life's simple moments, I can connect with other mothers and help them feel less alone. By doing this, I feel less alone, too. It's a win-win situation and I have been able to connect with many lovely parents and fellow parent-illustrators through my Instagram account.

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