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When is the right time to start digging into nature with your little one? The answer is simple. Right now.


You, mama, are the compass that guides your child in so many ways—and nature experiences are no different. A mother who is connected to the natural world will naturally have a child who is inclined to explore the outdoors.

Don’t worry, it doesn’t take much.

Pause a moment before getting in the car to watch dew sparkle on the grass.

Look up before going into the grocery store to spy the clouds in the sky.

Take a deep breath as you walk down the street feeling the wind in your face.

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People often view talking about the weather as “small talk.” But, there is a reason we talk about the weather—it is something that binds us together. It is a grand shared experience.

When children are young, they experience the weather on a deep sensory level. Indeed, their development depends on it! Playing with the weather is a wonderful way to stimulate the senses and connect with the natural world.

The next time you go outside with your tot, try a few of these activities to engage your child in nature—whatever weather the seasons bring.

Singing in the rain.

Rainy days transform the world in the subtlest ways. Drops hang like crystals from the trees, colors deepen and pop with vibrant tones, and creatures that love the wet world come out. A nature walk(or crawl) on a rainy day is an invitation to explore the wet and wonderful world brought on when clouds meet the earth.

Carrying baby to see and touch the hanging raindrops can prompt delight and wonder.

On a cool day, a well-dressed baby can explore the wet world by crawling through grass, getting an up-close look at and feel for the rain. On a warm rainy day, it is all the more fun to get out and explore the wet world with as little on as possible!

Toddlers can create a rain orchestra with pots and pans when the rain hits the overturned surfaces.

Puddle jumping is a classic rainy day activity that will never lose appeal for little explorers. Just remember to keep a change of clothes in the car, so you don’t fret about the mess!

Walking in a windy wonderland.

Wind can provide fuel for wonderful explorations. Whether making ripples on a pond or making things move up, up,and away, wind is an invisible force with a big impact. Even the littlest explorer can appreciate the refreshing feeling of a cool breeze on a warm day.

Babies, toddlers, and grownups alike will delight in making the illusive breeze a little more tangible with bubbles. Blow bubbles on a windy day and see the wind in action.

Another way to see the wind is by watching clouds move across the sky, changing shape as they go.

Flying kites is a classic activity that’s a favorite for good reason. There is nothing quite like feeling the pull of the wind as it lifts a kite into the sky. With a little help, a toddler can easily feel this tension created by the wind and even wonder…What would happen if I let go?

It's gonna be a bright, sunshiny day.

The warmth of the sun can be quite calming for even the littlest among us. Sunny days can reveal a world filled with bright contrasts and shadows to play with. Although sunny days often bring up thoughts of the beach or running through the sprinkler, there is so much more to explore on a sunny day!

Shadow watching is a wonderful sunny day pastime. Seeing the shadows of trees dance on the grass can be deeply entertaining, even for the biggest kids.

Encourage your child to join the dancing shadows by jumping from shadow to shadow, trying to keep up with the wind and sun moving those shadows around.

Tracking shadows is a fun way to provide your child a real look at the movement of the earth in relation to the sun. Deep concepts for a tot, I know, but these experiences lay a foundation to build upon as your child’s relationship to the natural world grows.

To track shadows, help your child make note of where a shadow is cast (draw an outline of the shadow with chalk or use rocks as markers) and re-visit your shadow throughout the day. Make note of movements and talk about why it is moving. Just remember to avoid looking directly at the sun—it can damage your eyes!

Baby, it’s cold outside.

Although the inclination to hibernate during cold weather is strong, fight the pull and get outside to delve into the amazing wonders that winter has to share. With the right gear, even babies can have great fun exploring the cold and icy world.

Taking a walk to feel frost and ice is a great way to take note of the smooth, bumpy, and prickly textures of ice. Take those mittens off for just a few minutes and let your child explore the amazing textures created by water and cool temperatures.

When snow starts to fall, bundle up your tot (making sure to take a potty break ahead of time), get out, and encourage your child to capture a few flakes on their tongue, let it fall on their face, and delight in the magical way snow dresses up the world.

Watching ice float is another amazing phenomenon. Your young tot may not fully understand this extraordinary occurrence yet. But, that won’t dampen their excitement over creating “icebergs” to float in water. This is yet another activity that helps to build a foundation for your child’s explorations for years to come.

Getting outside, whatever the weather, can open up whole new worlds to explore for you and your child—no matter how young! Just remember the old adage…There’s no such thing as bad weather—only bad clothing choices.

Have fun out there!

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Chrissy Teigen is one of the most famous moms in the world and definitely one of the most famous moms on social media.

She's the Queen of Twitter and at least the Duchess of Instagram but with a massive following comes a massive dose of mom-shame, and Teigen admits the online comments criticizing her parenting affects her.

"It's pretty much everything," Teigen told Today, noting that the bulk of the criticism falls into three categories: How she feeds her kids, how she uses her car seats and screen time.

"Any time I post a picture of them holding ribs or eating sausage, I get a lot of criticism," she explained. "Vegans and vegetarians are mad and feel that we're forcing meat upon them at a young age. They freak out."

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Teigen continues: "If they get a glimpse of the car seat there is a lot of buckle talk. Maybe for one half of a second, the strap slipped down. And TV is another big one. We have TV on a lot in my house. John and I work on television; we love watching television."

Teigen wants the shame to stop, not just for herself but for all the other moms who feel it. (And we agree.)

"Hearing that nine out of 10 moms don't feel like they're doing a good enough job is terrible," she said. "We're all so worried that we're not doing all that we can, when we really are."

The inspiration for Teigen talking publicly about mom-shame may be in part because of her participation in Pampers' "Share the Love" campaign. But even though Teigen's discussion coincides with this campaign, the message remains equally important. Advertising can be a powerful tool for shifting the way society thinks about what's "normal" and we would much rather see companies speaking out against mom-shame than inducing it to sell more stuff.

Calling out mom-shame in our culture is worth doing in our lives, our communities and yes, our diaper commercials. Thank you Chrissy (and thank you, Pampers).

News

Dear fellow mama,

I was thinking about the past the other day. About the time I had three small boys—a newborn, his 2-year-old brother and his 5-year-old brother.

How I was always drowning.

How I could never catch my breath between the constant requests.

How I always felt guilty no matter how hard I tried.

How hard it was—the constant exhaustion, struggling to keep my home any kind of clean or tidy, how I struggled to feed my kids nutritious meals, to bathe them and clean them and keep them warmly dressed in clean clothing, to love them well or enough or well enough.

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Those years were some of the toughest years I have ever encountered.

But mama, I am here to tell you that it doesn't last forever. Slowly, incrementally, without you even noticing, it gets easier. First, one child is toilet trained, then the bigger one can tie his own shoelaces, then finally they are all sleeping through the night.

It's hard to imagine; I really really get it.

It is going to get easier. I swear it. I'm not saying that there won't be new parenting challenges, that it won't be the hardest thing you have ever done in your life. It will be. But it will get easier.

These days, all of my kids get the bus to school and back. Most of them dress themselves. They can all eat independently and use the toilet. Sometimes they play with each other for hours leaving me time to do whatever I need to do that day.

I sleep through the night. I am not constantly in a haze of exhaustion. I am not overwhelmed by three tiny little people needing me to help them with their basic needs, all at the same time.

I can drink a hot cup of coffee. I do not wish with every fiber of my being that I was an octopus, able to help each tiny person at the same time.

I am not tugged in opposite directions. I don't have to disappoint my 3-year-old who desperately wants to play with me while I am helping his first grade bother with his first grade reading homework.

And one day, you will be here too.

It's going to get easier. I promise. And while it may not happen today or even next week or even next month, it will happen. And you will look around in wonder at the magnificent people you helped to create and nurture and sustain.

Until then, you are stronger and more resilient than you can even imagine.

You've got this. Today and always.

Love,

A fellow mama

Life

I am broken.

It has happened again and I am breaking even more. Soon, the pieces will be too small to put back together.

The negative pregnancy test sits on my bathroom sink like a smug ex-lover. I am left pleading, How could you do this to me again? I thought it would be different this time. I had hope.

We are still trying. It has been 11 months and 13 days and there has been no progress. No forward momentum. No double solid lines. The emptiness of the space where the line should be mocks me.

I am broken.

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No amount of planning and scheming and effort is enough. I am not enough because I cannot make a chemical reaction happen at the exact moment it needs to happen. I cannot do what I want but oh how I wish I could.

It almost happened once. Two months ago, I felt different. Sore breasts and aware of the world like never before. I felt not empty. The blankness had been replaced by someone. I was sure of it. And I was late. Six days late and I thought this is it.

I didn't rush to test because I didn't want to jinx it. Or perhaps I just didn't want to let go of that string of hope. Without evidence that you're not actually here, I can pretend that you are.

So I waited. And I Googled early pregnancy symptoms and I kept an eye out for red spots I hoped I would never see. I finally couldn't wait any longer and decided the next morning would be the test.

But when I woke up, I knew it was just me. The feeling I had been feeling was gone and I knew, just knew, what I would find.

This test had words instead of lines. 'Not pregnant' it blared loudly, obnoxiously, insensitively.

I am broken.

It was four in the morning and I stood in my tiny bathroom apartment silently sobbing. Alone.

Perhaps you were there for a brief moment, but then you were gone.

I stared again at the stick.

Not pregnant.

Not pregnant.

Not pregnant.

It was taunting me now.

I wrapped it in a paper towel. Walked down three flights of stairs to the front of my building and threw it in the garbage can outside.

Later, when my husband woke, I told him I was wrong. There was nothing there after all.

And I mourned. All day long, I mourned. While I walked to work. While I said hello to my co-workers. While I answered questions and pretended to smile and tried not to think of the broken body I was living in.

The next day the blood arrived. Furious. Both of us infuriated it was there once again.

Can I keep doing this?

Am I broken?

Will I get to the point where I just… stop? Stop hoping. Stop praying. Stop wishing. Stop. Trying.

Am I broken? Or can I keep going?

Life

One of my biggest jobs as a mama is to create a foundation for my kids to become trailblazers and problem-solvers. It's not an easy task. I'm constantly wondering what type of person they'll become and how I can ensure they'll be awesome citizens of the world. For me, part of raising and encouraging future leaders starts with exposure—the more I introduce them to notable leaders in history, the better they can envision their own future.

This is why I love when brands create inspirational clothing and accessories for kids. And this month, Piccolina, a lifestyle brand for littles, added an exclusive Black History Month capsule collection to their trailblazer tees series and they are too cute for words.

The Black History Month line honors heroic leaders like Harriet Tubman, Maya Angelou, Katherine Johnson and Rosa Parks on colorful tees. It even features illustrations by emerging artists of color like Monica Ahanonu, Erin Robinson and Joelle Avelino who are, in my opinion, just as important.

In addition to the tops, the collection features art prints that coincide with the shirts, making this a perfect addition to any kids room—and even mama's office. Perhaps even more exciting are the price points: The limited-edition tees retail for $28 and framed art prints are $60.

Maya Angelou trailblazer tee

Maya Angelou trailblazer tee

This cotton tee features a portrait of the award-winning author, poet and civil rights activist and is the perfect way for your little one to celebrate her inner storyteller. A portion of the shirts proceeds benefit non-profit organizations that support girls' education and empowerment, such as the Malala Fund and Step Up.

$28

While I'm not sure what type of person my little ones will become, I'm certain that introducing them to leaders will help them have greater self-confidence and reinforce that they are competent and resilient, too. And what mama can't get behind that? Now the hardest part is deciding which ones to purchase.

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