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A letter to my babies on our first Mother's Day

You have been surprising me from the very start.

first mother's day

My babies,

I thought I was prepared for motherhood. I had plenty of practice with your 14 big cousins, after all. I've watched your aunts and uncles, my siblings, parent their kids for years before you two arrived and so I thought I knew what I was getting myself into. (Or at least had a pretty solid idea of it.) However, you, my babies, made sure to teach me all about the surprises of motherhood from the very beginning.


At our first ultrasound together, I was shocked to learn you weren't one, but two babies! In that moment—April Fools' Day of all days!— everything I had anticipated about motherhood and our journey together changed.

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Our adventure from then to today, our first Mother's Day together, has been the most wonderful rollercoaster full of surprises.

Pregnancy surprised me.

Together, we endured months of morning (more like all day) sickness. The two of you stretched my body until I thought it couldn't possibly stretch any more, only to learn that, yes, it could. You made my body a home, growing and thriving within me, for a whole 38-weeks and five days. I felt you push each other, roll around, hiccup and stretch. It all still blows my mind.

I heard your hearts beat alongside my own, and I dreamed of what life would be like with you on the outside.

Your birth surprised me, and was not necessarily what I had anticipated.

I labored at home for a good portion of the day and was shocked to find out I was already 6cm dilated when I got to the hospital. While in labor, I learned that when I trusted my body it was able to do amazing things. I didn't expect everything to go so smoothly, delivering both of you vaginally and unmedicated. And I also didn't expect to lose two liters of blood in the process, which led immediately to two transfusions and my first experience with total hit-by-a-truck exhaustion.

But our love—the pure, crying-just-because, want-to-eat-your-face, never-felt-this-way-before—love that overloaded my system and coursed through my veins was what surprised me the most that day we first met.

Crying over poop surprised me.

Yes, happy tears over your poop, if you can believe it! Because on your seventh day of life, you finally pooped at home and I felt such relief staring at your diaper, tears streaming down my face. (I didn't know how emotional bowel movements could be.)

Attempts to breastfeed two of you, and everything that went along with it, surprised me.

Juggling triple feeds took some getting used to—nurse, pump, feed by tube, rest for 20 minutes, repeat. Watching your dad thread a nasogastric (NG) tube over his finger and into your tiny mouths so you could eat (but also still attempt a latch) filled me with both love and frustration, sometimes at the same time. Making the decision to switch to exclusively pumping and bottle feeding was more emotional than I would have ever thought.

But the increased love and support your dad showed to me during that time was a beautiful silver-lining to the challenges of our new parent learning curve. I've always thought your dad and I were a great team, but the intensity of dedication and level of teamwork between us since your arrival has been so pleasantly surprising. We're closer than we've ever been and I think it's because you two are teaching us so much.

Once I switched to pumping full-time, that surprised me in and of itself.

It's hard to put into words the satisfaction I felt when I filled up two 9oz bottles for the first time. I feel so much pride each time I add a bag of milk into our deep freezer after I pump. I never thought I could feel so proud of any type of milk! It still surprises me every day, that we have come this far—six months and counting.

Your personalities have surprised me.

My once calm and relaxed "Baby A," you are now spunky, wiry, giggly and constantly on the move. And my once rambunctious "Baby B," you are calm, cool, snuggly and are always on the lookout for your next bottle. I can't wait to watch you learn and grow into the beautiful people you're destined to be—and I have a feeling you'll both continue to surprise us every single day for the rest of our lives.

Getting through the tough days continuously surprises me.

I often don't think I can do it, but every time, I do. We do. Because we're a team.

I knew I was going to be surprised by motherhood, of course, but I didn't know just *how* surprised. Thank you, my babies, for giving me the greatest adventure of my life.

I love you forever,

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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Sorry, you can’t meet our baby yet

Thank you for understanding. ❤️

In just over three weeks, we will become parents. From then on, our hearts will live outside of our bodies. We will finally understand what everyone tells you about bringing a child into the world.

Lately, the range of emotions and hormones has left me feeling nothing short of my new favorite mom word, "hormotional." I'm sure that's normal though, and something most people start to feel as everything suddenly becomes real.

Our bags are mostly packed, diaper bag ready, and birth plan in place. Now it's essentially a waiting game. We're finishing up our online childbirth classes which I must say are quite informational and sometimes entertaining. But in between the waiting and the classes, we've had to think about how we're going to handle life after baby's birth.

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I don't mean thinking and planning about the lack of sleep, feeding schedule, or just the overall changes a new baby is going to bring. I'm talking about how we're going to handle excited family members and friends who've waited just as long as we have to meet our child. That sentence sounds so bizarre, right? How we're going to handle family and friends? That sentence shouldn't even have to exist.

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Life

Errands and showers are not self-care for moms

Thinking they are is what's burning moms out.

A friend and I bump into each other at Target nearly every time we go. We don't pre-plan this; we must just be on the same paper towel use cycle or something. Really, I think there was a stretch where I saw her at Target five times in a row.

We've turned it into a bit of a running joke. "Yeah," I say sarcastically, "We needed paper towels so you know, I had to come to Target… for two hours of alone time."

She'll laugh and reply, "Oh yes, we were out of… um… paper clips. So here I am, shopping without the kids. Heaven!"

Now don't get me wrong. I adore my trips to Target (and based on the fullness of my cart when I leave, I am pretty sure Target adores my trips there, too).

But my little running joke with my friend is actually a big problem. Because why is the absence of paper towels the thing that prompts me to get a break? And why on earth is buying paper towels considered a break for moms?

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Life