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I went to see Disney’s Moana with my daughter and some friends when it came out in theaters. It was fun, exciting and entertaining as most Disney movies are, but this story stood out to me.


Here’s why.

At the end of the movie (SPOILER ALERT), Moana and her demigod companion, Maui, while on their quest to give back the mystical heart to the goddess of the island Te Fiti, encounter a terrifying lava monster who they believe is preventing them from fulfilling their mission.

First, they try to fight the monster, but to no avail—the monster only grows angrier. Soon, Moana discovers that the terrifying monster is actually the goddess of the island Te Fiti herself, who has turned into a fierce lava monster because she has lost her heart.

Armed with this realization, she does something completely counterintuitive, yet incredibly powerful and effective. She stands strong, calm and unafraid, and tells the monster that she knows who it truly is.

This act of kindness calms the monster, and inspires it to move towards Moana to reclaim its heart, thereby transforming back into the loving island of Te Fiti.

As I held my scared daughter on my lap, I was blown away by how perfectly this final scene serves as a metaphor for parenting. In our daily lives, our children will inevitably explode with anger. They will become irrational, fierce and (sometimes) completely lose control — just like the lava monster.

When this happens, we have an important choice about how we respond to them when they have “lost their hearts,” so to speak.

We can respond with fear, by withholding love, by fighting back, or trying to “put them in their place,” all in a futile attempt to stop their emotional “lava.” As you can guess, none of these strategies ultimately work in these most desperate moments, and certainly not in the long run.

Just like in the movie, these tactics will cause our children’s “lava” to grow bigger and fiercer, and we will feel defeated, exhausted, and most importantly, we will be unable to find common ground with our children.

Instead, our children need us to make the most unlikely move and understand that their anger is a cry for help. They need us to be like Moana: grounded, unafraid, loving, and empathic.

When they yell horrible words, attempt to hurt us, or just lose themselves completely, this must signal to us that they need our strength and empathy the most. They need us to believe in who they really are and take a stand for them when they can’t for themselves.

We all have a monster inside us who can rear its ugly head when we feel threatened, tired, hungry or are simply having a hard day. We must see underneath our children’s “monster” selves, and understand what is happening inside them. When our children are behaving the worst, perhaps they have “lost their hearts,” and they need us to return it to them.

So, the next time my daughter has a total meltdown, I will try to remember this powerful scene, and think to myself, What Would Moana Do? And if that doesn’t work, maybe I’ll try a musical number—that might work, too.

Originally posted on HuffPost.

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There's nothing like heading into the back-to-school season knowing each child''s closet is filled with clothes that fit and a plan to keep up the first day of school organization all year long. Set the kids, and yourself, up for success by getting the closet clutter under control.

Young children are just learning what it means to be responsible, and they don't yet know how to take care of their belongings. Many older children are at a stage where they ought to know better but still struggle to keep organized. Organizing a kid's room can be particularly challenging because children grow and evolve at a fast rate, and they need a system that can keep up with all the changes.

Plan storage for developing needs

The goal is to keep your child's room clutter-free. When your child is an infant, you will probably want a space where diaper supplies can be accessible and kept out of sight. As your child grows, this space can then be used for toys, and later for books and elementary school supplies. A few more years down the road, this same space may be perfect for your teenager's sports equipment or technology devices.

Infant and toddler closets can easily become the stash and store location hidden behind a door when guests come to visit. With thoughtful planning before baby arrives, your closet can be just the place to hold everything your little one needs with room to accommodate a future teenager.

1. Use adjustable hanging rods

If you're hanging baby clothes, it often makes sense to have three rows of hanging rods stacked vertically. Tiny baby clothes don't require much vertical length, but you frequently do need to keep many outfits on hand, as your child will get them messy and grow out of them so quickly.

As they grow, you can remove the middle rod and keep a two-row system. For young children, you may want to keep daily-use clothes they can access themselves on the low hanging rod and reserve the higher rod for less-frequently used clothing or any items best kept out of reach.

Even once your children become teenagers, they can still use the two-row hanging rod system for shorter clothes items like shirts and shorts.

2. Incorporate closed drawers

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One key to keeping a room tidy is making sure there is plenty of storage space for storing items away and out of sight. Ideally, there should be enough closed drawers that each has a designated purpose that encourages organization.

For example, socks and underwear can be kept in one drawer separated from another drawer with small toys. Some closets can accommodate a dresser, other may need a system that includes drawers. However you design your closets, showing your children early on that everything has its place helps them to develop organizational skills that are useful throughout life.

3. Add color

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Many kid's closets feature bright colors that inspire and help with grouping and organization. You can fill open shelves with plastic baskets in a rainbow of colors. Even young toddlers can start to grasp the difference between putting an object in the red basket versus putting an object in the blue. Or, for early readers, try adding decorative labels that you and child create together to assist with word recognition or planning outfits for the week.

4. Reconsider your organization plan every year

Back to school is the perfect time to revamp the closet plan while you weed out the old and outgrown in preparation for the new year's changes and challenges. Make sure the children themselves are involved in this process, at whatever level of responsibility makes the most sense for their current age and development. This helps makes it more likely they will stick with the organization plan. Your child's age and stage plays a big part.

Here are a few age-specific closet tips:

For baby + toddlers

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Baskets are the best. In the early months, group clothes into sizes. When baby outgrows a 6 month outfit, it will be easy to grab the next size up. This is also a great way to keep track at a glance of what baby needs when the 2T basket is full, but you only have a few 18 months outfits. Once your little one's growth has slowed, you can repurpose the baskets by grouping clothes by season and item.

For preschoolers

As little feet get bigger and toys turn into learning games, those baby baskets turn into shoe and game storage. Preschool is filled with proud artistic and academic achievements too, so be sure to save a little room for storing those treasures. Easily keep them safe with a large artist portfolio. They hold a few years' worth of work and slide easily behind the dresser or hang in the back of the closet.

Stuffed animals are another closet buster at this stage. Use a fun jungle theme to hang them all around the closet when they aren't being played with or take an afternoon, some paint rope and two by fours to make a closet zoo. Having fun with organization at this stage makes staying organized easy and expected as they grow up.

For elementary-aged kids

School years bring a new need for storage: instruments, sports equipment, costumes, and shoes for every activity. If you invested in quality baskets or containers for their baby stage, now is a good time to purge what they've outgrown and re-label those baskets by activity or day of the week.

Make it easy for the kids to grab what they need every day of the week by adding hooks and a station to lay out what they need before they go to bed. The key to easy bedtimes and happy mornings for Mom and Dad lies in knowing where to look and helping the kids be accountable for their things.

For tweens + teens

Kids grow up fast, and now is the time to plan for things like jewelry and tie storage. Formal events, dances, concerts, and performances bring the need for more hanging space in the closet. At this stage, a structural closet reorganization for your growing teen is ideal. With their input you can create a space to hang jewelry and formal dresses or suits and uniforms and full size sports equipment.

Consider the addition of hooks and drawers and a full length mirror. At this age, closet shoe storage can be a challenge. Use under the bed storage for off season shoes and boots and only have what they'll need for the season in the closet. Make use of boxes and baskets for high storage of items they don't use regularly but can reach now when they need them.

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In the moments after we give birth, we desperately want to hear our baby cry. In the middle of the night a few months later it's no longer exactly music to our ears, but those cries aren't just telling us that baby needs a night feeding: They're also giving us a hint at what our children may sound like as kindergarteners, and adults.

New research published in the journal Biology Letters suggests the pitch of a 4-month-old's cry predicts the pitch they'll use to ask for more cookies at age five and maybe even later on as adults.

The study saw 2 to 5-month olds recorded while crying. Five years later, the researchers hit record again and chatted with the now speaking children. Their findings, combined with previous work on the subject, suggest it's possible to figure out what a baby's voice will sound like later in life, and that the pitch of our adult voices may be traceable back to the time we spend in utero. Further studies are needed, but scientists are very interested in how factors before birth can impact decades later.

"In utero, you have a lot of different things that can alter and impact your life — not only as a baby, but also at an adult stage," one of the authors of the study, Nicolas Mathevon, told the New York Times.

The New York Times also spoke with Carolyn Hodges, an assistant professor of anthropology at Boston University who was not involved in the study. According to Hodges, while voice pitch may not seem like a big deal, it impacts how we perceive people in very real ways.

Voice pitch is a factor in how attractive we think people are, how trustworthy. But why we find certain pitches more or less appealing isn't known. "There aren't many studies that address these questions, so that makes this research especially intriguing," Hodges said, adding that it "suggests that individual differences in voice pitch may have their origins very, very early in development."

So the pitch of that midnight cry may have been determined months ago, and it may determine part of your child's future, too. There are still so many things we don't know, but as parents we do know one thing: Our babies cries (as much as we don't want to hear them all the time) really are something special.

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Dear friends,

Please forgive me.

I may be an imperfect human in many ways, but there's one area of life I got right: I'm a good friend. I listen. I make plans. I make phone calls. I show up.

The relationships I've built with you all—which range from elementary school buds to college roommates to my own siblings—are incredibly important to me. Being a good friend to you is part of the fabric of my identity. You top my list of priorities.

And then... I had a baby. This wonderful, sweet, spunky daughter became the center of my world overnight and takes up all of the time I once invested in my friendships.

Now my sentences are fragmented, broken by cries of hunger or bedtime. And the time I do spend with you guys includes heading to another room for hours at a time so that my easily distracted little munchkin will actually eat and take a nap. As we both know, most of my texts start with, "So sorry I didn't see this!"

I'm one of the first of us to have children, which makes it a little bit harder to turn down the invites to celebrate 30th birthdays in Mexico or go to bachelorette parties. I may say it's because money is tight or I'm breastfeeding, but truthfully, I can't yet imagine leaving my daughter for even one night.

I'm loving my new role as a mother, and I think I'm doing a pretty great job. But I also miss being able to be a good friend.

As I nurse my baby to sleep, I imagine days in the future when my children have grown and I can take off for a girls weekend, and we can spend hours drinking margaritas by a pool. I remind myself to email you about these dreams, but of course, I never find the time.

When I do get a few spare moments, I choose to spend them having an actual conversation with my husband, who deserves his own letter of gratitude—but we are in this together, so he gets it.

For now, I ask you, my dear friends, for forgiveness and patience. Please don't forget me. I am still here.

And I already know you don't forget me because you show up for me—wanting to love my little girl the way that I already do.

You send me videos of how you sang her a bunch of lullabies. You booked plane tickets to see us. You bring food, and paper plates and you change diapers.

And when you ask how I am and I answer that my baby laughed for the first time, you smile and cheer, but then remember to ask, "Yes, but how are you?"

I am in a stage of life where my well-being will always come second to me—but not to you. Your remember to look for me, to see me beyond my role of mother.

To my friends, thank you. I love you. I need your stories and your laughter now more than ever. Thank you for having the grace to understand that I just may need to hear you in smaller increments of time.

One day we can laugh about this over margaritas by the pool. 😉

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Breastfeeding mamas are pretty powerful. But it's not often that we see the reality of what it truly takes portrayed in the media. We don't see the late night nursing sessions. The woman strapped to her pump at work in the women's restroom. The stay-at-home mom nursing twins while also trying to keep her toddler entertained and happy.

In celebration of National Breastfeeding Awareness Month, #TeamMotherly submitted some real-life images to show their truth. And we wanted to share them here with you.

(But remember: however you decide to feed your baby—formula, breastfeed, combo—you're incredible, mama!)

Nursing in the hospital for the first time

Valerie Robichau

An at-work pumping session

Tamar (Raviv) Reiner

An emotional first-time nursing session

Mariana Nathal

Breastfeeding on a bed

Valerie Robichau

On the go

Jessica Martinez

Late at night

To twins

Kristen Harms

As they fall asleep

Jessica Martinez

Or as they're drowsy

Justine Bowser

To provide comfort

Valerie Robichau

And joy

Bronte Cummings

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