When you say, ‘Enjoy it, they grow up so fast’

I know how fast it goes. It’s happening before my eyes.

When you say, ‘Enjoy it, they grow up so fast’

"Cherish it! It goes so fast!" “Enjoy these moments, they’re the best ones of your life.”

I wish I had a minute of sleep for every time someone said this to me. I know you’re remembering your own little ones. I know you're trying to tell me that when it gets so hard, to not lose perspective, that I'll look back in just a few months and ache for the small newborn resting on my chest.

I know how fast it goes. It's happening before my eyes.

Having a baby is having all of life's most bittersweet moments come at you one after the other, piling on top of each other.

The pain of childbirth and the joy of the new life.

The relentless exhaustion but the wonderful sweet smiles and laughter.

Trading casual late nights out for late nights in and early morning snuggles.

Saying goodbye to your sweet newborn, but getting to see your tiny, helpless baby transform into a child who is quickly learning to talk, crawl, explore.

Watching them furrow their brow and concentrate. Introducing them to your favorite things, and finding out they have their own favorite things.

I know how fast and fleeting this is. But knowing that can't help me stop time. All I can do is soak it in, knowing that one day I will long to hold my crying baby in my arms for just one minute, that I’ll look at my clean living room and miss the curious child spreading his toys everywhere, that I’ll take a shower without someone yelling “MAMA” and feel a pang of sadness at my quiet house.

So I try to soak in those sweet baby moments while they last. When he falls asleep on me. When he reaches up and put his palm on my lips while nursing, asking for a kiss. The softness of his hair. His big, gummy-except-for-two-teeth smile.

But sometimes it's too easy to get lost in the cherishing, too easy to hold desperately and fearfully onto every moment, dreading its passing. When everyone tells you “these are the best days” and “it goes so fast!” it can strike fear into your heart, knowing how fast each moment has already gone by.

But, mama, there is so much to look forward to in the coming days and years, too.

I'm so excited to see him grow and learn. To help shape him and see what kind of man he will be—what he will pursue, what will drive him. What my sweet and social baby will be like as an adult.

I don't want these to be the very best days. That would mean in 18 years, my best days will be long behind me. Instead, I want to use these days to mold my child's life, but also mine and my husband's, into a life filled with joy and love and adventure.

That doesn't mean anything extravagant, really. It's a million little things.

It's pouring love into my child so that he can one day stand on his own, securely and confidently.

It's staying in and saving money so we can help build financial security for our future.

It's working hard at my job, including late nights and early mornings, so I can grow and maintain my career for when my house is quiet and my son can make his own lunches and I can shower by myself again.

It's my husband and I making time for each other, so we will enjoy the season in our lives when the kids are gone and we can spend our days together again, meandering at a store or leisurely eating dinner.

It’s even making time for myself—setting goals, exercising, reflecting, pursuing new things— so I can find both calm and fulfillment in the day-to-day. So I can be proud of a life well-lived.

I want to look back on these days with fondness and love, remembering the joy and chaos of life with a small child. But I hope that I look back with equal fondness on all the other moments in between—the first day of school, our conversations at dinner, my son as an adult standing on his own two feet—and am proud of him and of the life our family built together, one cherished moment at a time.

10 must-have registry items that will change your life, mama

The baby gear heavy hitters that should be top of your list

Calling all mamas-to-be! It's a fundamental truth of (impending) motherhood that your prepping-for-baby To Do list can feel a mile long, but really the best way to feel organized is to sort out the most important item at the top of your list: your registry. Sure the items you choose to include will end up running the gamut from nice-to-haves to absolutely essential game-changers, but mamas in the know quickly learn one thing: Not all baby gear is created equal.

So while you can and should pepper your registry with adorable inclusions that aren't necessarily can't-live-withouts (go ahead, add 'em!), you should make sure you're ticking the boxes on those pieces of baby gear that can be absolute life savers once you're in full-blown mama mode. From car seats to bouncers and playmats, your play and travel gear will be some of the most obvious important items on your list, but so can unexpected things, like a super comfy baby carrier and a snooze-inducing white noise machine. So to help you sort through the must-have options, we turned to the holy grail of motherhood that is buybuy BABY and handpicked 10 of the very best essential pieces that will change your life, we promise.

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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.


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

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.


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.


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

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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

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.


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.


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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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