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Dear Mom,

Do you remember our first "Girls Trip"?


It was just after my youngest son had turned one, and had finally outgrown a food allergy which meant I couldn't eat dairy or soy while breastfeeding. You planned a fabulous weekend away for us, where our goals were simple: eat, sleep and shop to our heart's content.

No more restrictive diet, no waking up in the middle of the night to nurse or soothe, no taking care of anyone else's wants or needs. Just rest and peace and precious time together. You insisted. I obliged.

We were living states apart at the time, so we met at the hotel on a beautiful early spring day in Vermont. We checked into our room, and there on my fluffy, downy gigantic bed (which I would not have to share with anyone for two whole nights), you had left a little beribboned box of gourmet chocolates. We toasted with pink champagne. It was one of the best weekends of my whole life, and we decided it needed to become an annual tradition.

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Your thoughtful generosity which prompted that weekend was in no way out of character for you. You have always shown up for me like this.

When I was younger it looked different, of course. There were boo-boos to bandage and nightmares to assuage and broken hearts to help mend with a listening ear and a cup of tea. Then there were college essays to guide me through and salary negotiations to give advice on and a wedding to help plan.

And then came my babies and a brand new shining role for you to play—loving grandmother. You waited in the driveway for us to return home from the hospital and ushered us into my kitchen which was both gleaming with cleanliness and stocked with enough food to feed us for what seemed like months.

You were there to counsel and encourage, and to love on all of us as our family grew.

But even though you are the best Yaya in the whole world to my boys—a beacon of love and fun and mischief and joy, always ready with a treat and up for any adventure—I know that at any given moment, your primary concern is still me. Your baby.

When sickness visits my house, and I am kissing hot foreheads and holding puke buckets and grabbing fractured hours of worry-filled sleep, the concern in your voice when you call to check on us, is for me. I once asked you about this and I remember your eloquent explanation.

"I know the boys will be fine, because you're the best mom in the world," you said. "There's no stone you'd ever leave unturned, no remedy you won't have thought of, no worry I could have that you aren't already riddled with. I worry about you, because you're my girl."

You know and love the man that I married and what an incredible partner he is. He shoulders more than his fair share of the labor of parenthood. But you also know that he's right there in the weeds with me—also overworked and underslept and prioritizing the kids, just like I want him to. He doesn't coddle me, because that's not his job. He's my partner, not my parent.

So when you book that hotel for us every spring, or drop by the house with a new candle or a bunch of peonies on a long Monday afternoon, when you sign us up for yoga classes or gasp in horror at the state of my worn-out shoes and insist on a new pair immediately (your treat!), I want you to know, you are saving me.

Every pot of chicken soup, every pedicure, every time you babysit so my husband and I can share a hot meal and a conversation in peace—all of these acts are lifelines you toss me as I navigate the sometimes rocky seas of my own motherhood.

And it's not because I need these material objects or luxurious treats to feel loved, but because I need to feel seen. I cannot tell you the comfort I take in knowing that there is a person in my life who is constantly noting the state of my soul. Someone who knows how all-consuming and beautiful and hard motherhood is, considers my stress level, my mental and physical health, my happiness—to be important.

I know that not every mother has a mother like you. How I wish they did. The world would be such a better place if everyone was loved as abundantly as I have been by you.

So I want to say: thank you.

Thank you for a million kindnesses, big and small. Thank you for worrying about me and listening to me and supporting me. Thank you for acknowledging that this season of life can be a challenging one, that motherhood is a monumental feat, and that mothers need to be taken care of, too.

Thank you for remembering that even as I put my own children's needs and wants far ahead of my own, I am still a person. I am still someone's child.

Thank you for still mothering me, Mom.

Love,
Your daughter

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As a mid-Spring holiday, we never knew exactly what to expect from the weather on Easter when I was growing up in Michigan: Would we get to wear our new Sunday dresses without coats? Or would we be hunting for eggs while wearing snowsuits?

Although what the temperature had in store was really anyone's guess, there were a few special traditions my sister and I could always depend on—and it won't come as a surprise to anyone who knows me that my favorite memories revolved around food. After all, experts say memories are strongest when they tie senses together, which certainly seems to be true when it comes to holiday meals that involve the sounds of laughter and the taste of amazing food.

Now that I'm a parent, I'm experiencing Easter anew as my children discover the small delights of chocolate, pre-church brunch and a multi-generational dinner. While I still look forward to the treats and feasting, I'm realizing now that the sweetest thing of all is how these traditions bring our family together around one table.

For us, the build-up to Easter eats is an extended event. Last year's prep work began weeks in advance when my 3-year-old and I sat down to plan the brunch menu, which involved the interesting suggestion of "green eggs and ham." When the big morning rolled around, his eyes grew to the size of Easter eggs out of pure joy when the dish was placed on the table.

This year, rather than letting the day come and go in a flash, we are creating traditions that span weeks and allow even the littlest members of the family to feel involved.

Still, as much as I love enlisting my children's help, I also relish the opportunity to create some magic of my own with their Easter baskets—even if the Easter Bunny gets the credit. This year, I'm excited to really personalize the baskets by getting an "adoptable" plush unicorn for my daughter and the Kinder Chocolate Mini Eggs that my son hasn't stopped talking about since seeing at the store. (You can bet this mama is stocking up on some for herself, too.)

At the same time, Easter as a parent has opened my eyes to how much effort can be required...

There is the selection of the right Easter outfits for picture-perfect moments.

There is the styling of custom Easter baskets.

There is the filling of plastic eggs and strategic placement of them throughout the yard.

But when the cameras are put away and we all join together around the table for the family dinner at the end of the day, I can finally take a deep breath and really enjoy—especially with the knowledge that doing the dishes is my husband's job.

This article was sponsored by Kinder. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.


Our Partners

Among the many little things we truly miss from #lifebeforecoronavirus it's devouring the tasty treats from Disney. But it turns out you can create that same Disney magic at home.

The Disney Parks blog and app recently shared popular recipes as its parks continue to remain closed and the Dole Whip and churros are the exact sweets we need to get us through this challenging time.

For the unfamiliar, the Dole whip is a creamy, frozen pineapple treat that melts in your mouth. It's so refreshing and can be vegan and dairy-free, depending on the ingredients you use. If you're into baking, you'll love the traditional Spanish and Portuguese churro that the park sells more than 5.5 million of each year.

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That's a huge hit for the park, and we're hoping it's a winner for families, too.

Here's the Dole Whip recipe for a single serving according to the Disneyland app:


Ingredients:

  • 1 big scoop of ice cream
  • 4 oz of pineapple juice
  • 2 cups of frozen pineapple

Instructions:

  • Add all ingredients to a blender until it's a thick drink.
  • Add your swirl and then you're done.

And, here's the churro recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup water
  • 8 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable or canola oil
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, divided

Instructions:

  1. Combine water, butter, salt, and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon in 1 1/2-quart saucepan over medium heat. Bring pot to rolling boil.
  2. Reduce heat to low.
  3. Add flour and stir vigorously until mix forms a ball. Remove from heat and let rest for 5 to 7 minutes.
  4. Add eggs, one at a time, and stir until combined. Set aside.
  5. Heat oil in medium skillet or one-quart saucepan over medium-high heat or until temperature reaches 350 degrees.
  6. Spoon dough into piping bag fitted with large star tip. Pipe one-inch strip of dough over saucepan, cut with knife, and drop into hot oil. Repeat until churro bites fill saucepan with room to fry.
  7. Fry churro bites until golden brown. Remove with slotted spoon or mesh spider strainer.
  8. Drain churro bites on paper towel.
  9. Mix sugar and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon in medium bowl. Toss in churro bites until coated. Place on serving plate and serve with favorite dipping sauce.
News

Shelter in place is here and will likely be for a while. As we get more settled into our new life, we're finding our kiddo's new wardrobes are pajamas. Gone are the days of wearing jeans, real pants and shirts—their new wardrobe (and frankly, yours too) consists of day and night pajamas.

It's important to have comfortable clothes that help little ones relax and make them feel, well, at home. Whether they're spending most of their days doing homework or running around begging you for more snacks, these comfortable, soft pajamas will help make things a little easier for them—and you too, mama.

Here are our favorite PJs for newborns, new walkers and preschoolers:

aden + anais cotton pajamas

aden + anais cotton pajamas

How cute is this set? This cotton top and bottom comes in a variety of colors, but we're into vintage cars. Your little speedster will love the comfortable cuffs and an elastic waistband that makes it a little easier to take the bottoms on and off. The blue car print is available in sizes 12 months to 4T.

$25

Primary rainbow heart footie

Primary rainbow heart footie

Inspire vibrant dreams of rainbows and hearts with these cotton pajamas. You'll love the zip closure and the non-skid soles means you can rest assured your baby will be safe as they crawl/walk through the house. There's one thing we know for sure—they'll never want to take this supremely soft jammie off.

$19.50

Tea collection printed tank pajamas

Tea collection printed tank pajamas

These warm weather inspired jammies will make your little one feel like they're on a mini vacation.Tailored from breathable cotton, the short sleeves and bottoms will keep them cool and content. But here herein lies the magic—Tea collection gives back a portion of its profits to charities to ensure a better world for kids everywhere.

$39.50

Hanna Anderson night night sleeper

Hanna Anderson night night sleeper

Because your kid is lounging around all day, it's important that their pjs have flatlock seams and are made of combed cotton rib knit so they're as comfortable as possible. These not only check those boxes, but they wash beautifully so you can throw them in the washer 10 times a week and the colors won't fade. We're obsessed with the multicultural mermaid print because we can all use a little mythological creature to brighten our days.

$21

Hatley nightdress

Hatley nightdress

Prepare for long hours of coziness with this nightdress. It gathers at the front which makes it easy for kids to freely move around. And, the neckline is super wide for easy removal. Seriously, getting ready for bed has never been easier.

$32

Leveret matching doll + girls pajamas

Leveret matching doll + girls pajamas

What fun is it if baby dolls can't be comfortable, too? Your kid will love to share their favorite pajamas with their best friend. The set fits 18-inch dolls and is available in tons of fun prints, including ballerinas, bumble bees, stars and owls.

$14.98

Tucker + Tate glow in the dark pajamas

Tucker + Tate glow in the dark pajamas

We were huge fans of just the alligator print, but these incredibly soft cotton jammies are even cooler when the lights are off because they glow in the dark. Pro tip: The pajamas are slightly large so size down if you want a more snug fit.

$29

Lewis inverse parsnip pajama set

Lewis inverse parsnip pajama set

There's one major requirement for kid pajamas: They must be durable enough for play. We love that these are not only well-made with interlocking knit cotton, but it also fits true to size after washing and shrinking. And if your kid is drawn to nature, they'll love the muted pink parsnip print, too.

$48

Boden twin pack short pajamas

Boden twin pack short pajamas

We're obsessed with these pajamas that are made of stretchy ribbed cotton jersey that's been brushed on the inside to make them soft against the skin. It's perfect for little ones with sensitive skin. And, what better than two sets for the price of one?

$48

The Children's Place cotton pajamas

The Children's Place cotton pajamas

Going on a family vacation might not happen soon, but a girl can dream, right? This tagless shirt pajamas with a pull-on elasticized waistband is exactly what she needs for the sweetest dreams.

$7.98

Little English jammies

little english jammies

Who doesn't love biting into a juicy watermelon? Take your kid's love for their favorite fruit to bed with them with these 100% cotton pajamas that are available up to size 8.

$39.20

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Dear Baby,

In a few weeks you'll be a 1-year-old. While it seems like just yesterday you were born, this year has also seemed to last forever. Honestly, the month of March alone could've been a year of our lives.

We'll never forget this first birthday, dear baby. Our memories of this special time will be stamped with the historic stain that is the COVID-19 global pandemic.

I remember planning for your older brother's birthday party a couple years ago. I had many concerns back then, which all seem so trivial now. What theme will we choose? Did I make festive enough decorations? What's the protocol—do we serve alcohol to the adults? How many cupcakes will we need?

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None of that matters this time around. Actually, it probably never mattered then either. Your brother doesn't remember that party any more than you'll remember this one. Now my concerns take a different shape.

Have I stocked our pantry with enough food for our family? When will you get to see your grandparents again? How are our friends doing? Will Daddy lose his job once the economic ramifications of this virus catches up? How do I make a mask using scrap fabric and hair ties? What if one of you gets sick?

This is what occupies my mind in place of streamers and birthday cakes.

But regardless of the toll this pandemic has and will continue to bring to the world, you deserve to be celebrated. You've been a bright ray of sunshine in the storm of uncertainty.

You've reminded us to pause and soak up the small moments of pure joy. You've grown tremendously and developed quite a personality all your own. Your dad and I like to joke around about what a cute troublemaker you're shaping up to become. We love you abundantly, and can't wait to watch you grow up.

When this milestone birthday comes around, I promise you'll be surrounded by love. Physically, you'll have Mommy, Daddy and your big brother's presence to help you celebrate. The other love will be from afar, yes, but that doesn't make it any less strong.

Your grandparents, aunt, uncles, cousins—they're eagerly awaiting the day they can hug you and hold you tightly. They're grieving the fact they can't wish you a happy birthday in person. And I'm grieving right along with them.

I've come to realize that a child's first birthday party is much more for the adults than the child, but I don't think that's a negative thing. It's a gathering of loved ones celebrating how much their lives have been positively changed by a special kiddo. And this time, we were looking forward to celebrating you, my baby.

For the sake of being safe and responsible, that won't be happening in a traditional way. Not this spring, anyway. I promise to make this up to you. (And—in a way—to myself, too.)

But we will still celebrate, little one. Your first birthday is not canceled. We will still laugh and play and marvel at your being. And so, my baby for not much longer, happy birthday.

We'll make sure you have everything you need in the comfort of our home. Your birthday will be spent in footie pajamas cuddled on the couch, us laughing at your adorable antics. We'll FaceTime our extended family and if there aren't too many substitutions on my online grocery order, I'll bake you a cake. I'll sing off-key and your brother will blow out your candle in the true and messy fashion of a toddler giving the weather instead of the news.

And when you're older, we'll laugh and reminisce about you turning one while the world was quarantined. It'll certainly be one for the baby book.

It'll certainly be one we will always remember.

We love you.

Love,

Mommy and Daddy

Life

Right now, we're all facing financial uncertainty that we've likely never navigated before. If your family is rethinking your strategy for spending and saving money, or if you're suddenly facing debt or financial hardship you didn't anticipate, you're not alone.

We do know people are looking for a plan forward for their finances. And as bills begin to pile up and as people begin to dip into their savings, families are looking for ways to avoid financial distress.

Here are some steps you can take to get yourself back on track if you find yourself unable to pay your bills.

1. Audit yourself to see where you stand

As a first step, and in order to get the full picture of your finances, take an inventory of all your expenses, like groceries or utilities, and any money you currently owe, like credit card bills.

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Identify any unnecessary expenses that you can cut back on for the time being, such as any subscriptions being paid automatically.

Knowing everything you owe, plus your projected expenses for the coming months will help you see where you stand, and will allow you to make a realistic plan for yourself.

2. Make a budget and prioritize only what is necessary

Now more than ever, Americans need to be extremely diligent with their money, prioritizing what matters most, like rent and other necessities. Every family's financial situation is different so it's important to make a realistic plan for your money.

To help you get back on track, create a budget for your family that you're willing to stick to. This should only include necessary expenses at this point, like rent and groceries. In order to help stabilize your finances over the long term, map out your projected expenses over the next three, six and nine months, since there's uncertainty around how long the effects of the global pandemic will be felt.

Planning for the worst is the way to stay ahead of financial problems.

3. Know every relief option available to you

Be proactive about understanding your options and take action when possible. Depending on your family's situation and expenses, there may be forms of relief available to you, so it's worth doing a bit of research to understand how you can get your debts under control. Here are some debt and financial hardship relief options to know about:

  • Your bank or credit union may be offering consumer protections and relief, including fee waivers, deferred payments for credit cards, auto loans and mortgages, loan modifications, low-rate and zero-rate loans and other accommodations. See what your bank is offering by checking this list or your bank's website, or consult this list of credit unions offering consumer financial support.
  • Call your credit card issuer. Numerous credit card companies are offering some kind of debt relief, such as waived fees or deferred payments.
  • If you're a homeowner and you're worried about making a payment, reach out to your mortgage lender. Many offer programs like mortgage forbearances that allow you to either temporarily stop making payments or temporarily lower your payments. (Again, always be sure to read the fine print so you know what you're getting yourself into, as there may be penalties to some options down the line.) Under the CARES Act, your family may be eligible for mortgage forbearance options for coronavirus related financial hardship. And because mortgage rates are low right now, refinancing might free up some financial flexibility, although the process takes time.
  • If you're a renter, speak to your landlord about your options. If your landlord's mortgage is from a federal lender, you cannot be evicted for nonpayment due to coronavirus-related hardship. This eviction forbearance, part of the CARES Act, is currently in effect through July.
  • Under the CARES Act, all federal student loans are in a state of administrative forbearance, which means you can temporarily stop making payments through the end of September, with no accrued interest. Sallie Mae, Navient and Wells Fargo are also offering temporary loan forbearance for student loans—contact your lender.
  • A number of internet companies have "pledged" not to terminate service for customers due to nonpayment caused by coronavirus-related financial hardship. Check to see if your utility companies are on this list, which includes AT&T, Comcast, Sprint, T-Mobile, US Cellular and Verizon.
  • Utility companies in some areas have also announced that they will temporarily suspend service terminations for nonpayment—check your utility providers' websites or call them.
  • Unemployment insurance is available at higher rates for a longer period, and more people qualify under the CARES act, including part-time workers, freelancers, people on furlough and people who were recently laid off. If you are unable to work because your child's daycare or school was closed, for example, you are eligible for unemployment under the new provisions. And if you have been forced to accept reduced hours, you're eligible, too.

4. Keep your credit accounts current, if possible

On-time payments are one of the key pieces factored into a credit score so I'd encourage you to avoid letting bills go unpaid entirely, if you can. Instead, do some research and find out what the minimum payment is for each of your bills, and pay that, if possible. If you're unable to pay at all, call to see if there's a way to defer payments temporarily.Paying the minimum payments on your monthly bills will help you keep your credit accounts current.

5. Avoid payday loans or maxing out credit cards

Payday lenders tend to prey on those in desperate circumstances, and these loans can be the beginning of a long cycle of debt with high fees and interest rates.

Likewise, you can quickly rack up interest and fees with credit cards if you're putting more money on them that you can pay back.

Instead, if necessary, look into other options available to you such as an emergency or personal loan, which often have lower interest rates. Always read the fine print before signing anything so you understand the terms and implications.

Overall, navigating your finances during this time of uncertainty can seem daunting and overwhelming. But it isn't impossible. The key is to take the first step. Now is the time to advocate for yourself and finances.

Work + Money
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