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My darling baby, when did you grow up?

You became a child in the moments I wasn’t looking, and I have loved every minute of your second year on earth. 

My darling baby, when did you grow up?

Dear beautiful girl,

You became a child in the moments I wasn’t looking—while I slept, or wrote, cleaned the dishes. Otherwise, surely I would have seen the shadows of your baby self fluttering from your face, witnessed the shrinking of the infant creases in your wrists and the disappearance of dimples on your knuckles.


Surely I would have noticed the moment the top of your head began to smell of sunshine and wet soil and Playdoh and strawberries instead of that unnamable new baby perfume. I would have captured each fragile moment of your metamorphosis, frozen and kept them, written each of them down.

Surely I must have been sleeping.

Because look at you, beautiful magical child of a girl.

Look at you.


There is a core of fire that runs in you, a deep and profound confidence, a sureness of self that you wear in your eyes and your tiny new voice and your goofiest smile. It is the thing that holds you, that stands you on your feet in rooms of strangers, meeting their eyes, holding their hands, singing them songs.

It is the vault of your secrets, the part of you that waits to reveal what you are learning, what you are seeing, what you know until you have it all mastered and the moment is safe and specific and completely yours.

You trust your own timing. You carve your own way. You meet strangers from a place within your spirit that knows its own worth and trusts the God-thing in new faces, the potential for love, the desire to play.

I envy this in you. I watch it, and learn it, and let you teach it to me.


You, at two, are generous with kisses.

You are prone to spontaneous bursts of enthusiastic hugging.

You are fully convinced that life is not worth living unless we stop and dance whenever you feel the rumble of heavy bass.

You love your grandparents and aunts so passionately that occasionally, when they are not with you, we must yell their names in the car at the top of our lungs, a lament to the heavens for the brutal injustice of their absence.

You are convinced that all food falls into one of two categories: soup or cake. You prefer the latter.

And somewhere within you is a magic bit, a fiery core, a sureness. I watch it, and learn it, and let you teach it to me.


You love Daniel Tiger with a love that borders on obsession.

You take fantastic care of your babies, kissing and wearing and tucking them in.

You call all the trucks and trains and trolleys “Toot,” and the sight of a bus sends you into literal spasms of joy.

You still laugh whenever the wind hits just right.

You still take my face in your hands like you’ve been trying and trying to tell me something I haven’t understood.

You still prefer to fall asleep on the back of my neck or lying with our noses touching, eye to eye. And your feet no longer fit in the palms of my hands. Your feet used to fit in the palms of my hands.

You are still the thing for which I am most profoundly grateful, still, the someone who drives me to ground and renew and trust and seek after my Maker, still my very best girl.

My promise to you, tiny beautiful magical child of a girl, is to name the sureness in you, to remind you of it, to feed it and nurture it and help it to grow.


I have loved every minute of your second year on earth, and I promise you that I will love every minute of every year with you that follows, even the hardest minutes, the angriest, the bleakest.

You and I will continue to work our way through our imperfect days—we will rely on grace, we will cling to each other, we will celebrate.

We will measure always, always, always in love.

Love,

Mama

14 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

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

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

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.

$30

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!

$75

Detective set

Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

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.

$40

Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

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.

$120

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.

$30

Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

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.

$100

Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

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.

$40

Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

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.

$121

Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

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.

$100

Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

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.

$45

Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

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.

$179

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.

$100

Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

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.

$33

Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

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.

$88

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Every week, we stock the Motherly Shop with innovative and fresh products from brands we feel good about. We want to be certain you don't miss anything, so to keep you in the loop, we're providing a cheat sheet.

So, what's new this week?

Earth Mama: Effective, natural herbal care for mamas and babies

Founded and grown in her own garage in 2002, Earth Mama started as an operation of one, creating salves, tinctures, teas and soaps with homegrown herbs. With a deep desire to bring the healing powers of nature that have been relied on for thousands of years to as many mamas as possible, Melinda Olson's formulas quickly grew into Earth Mama Organics. Since then, the brand has remained committed to manufacturing clean, safe and effective herbal solutions for the entire journey of motherhood, including pregnancy, breastfeeding and baby care, and even the loss of a baby.

Bravado Designs: Soothing sounds for a good night's sleep

With 28 years of serving pregnant and postpartum mamas under their belt, Bravado Designs is a true authority on the needs of changing bodies. It's true that we have them to thank for rescuing us from the uncomfortable and frumpy designs our own moms had to live with. Launched in Canada by two young mamas, they designed the first prototypes with extra leopard print fabric certain that a better bra was possible. Throughout the years they've maintained their commitment to ethical manufacturing while creating long-lasting products that truly work.

The Sill: Instagram-ready potted plants

We've long admired this female-founded brand and the brilliant mind behind it, Eliza Blank. (She even joined Motherly co-founder Liz Tenety on and episode of The Motherly Podcast!) The mission behind the business was simple: To make the process of bringing plants into your home as easy as possible, and as wonderful as the plant themselves. With their in-house, exclusively designed minimalist planters, the end result makes plant parenthood just a few clicks away.

Not sure where to start? Here's what we're adding to our cart:

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10 photos to take on baby’s first day that you'll cherish forever

You'll obsess over these newborn baby pictures.

Bethany Menzel: Instagram + Blog

As you're preparing for baby's birth, we bet you're dreaming of all of the amazing photos you'll take of your precious new babe. As a professional photographer and mama, I have some tips for newborn photos you'll want to capture.

Here are the 10 photos you will want to take on baby's first day.

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