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I gave my daughter life—but she really gave me mine

Because of my daughter, I finally woke up. Because of her, I never want to fall asleep again.

I gave my daughter life—but she really gave me mine

My eyes open as I feel a gentle hand on my shoulder and hear quiet, urgent words: It’s time.


Time for what? I wonder. I am groggy and confused, not sure where I am, my surroundings unfamiliar. But when a searing pain courses down my back and seizes across my stomach, I suddenly remember.

I am about to meet my daughter.

* * *

Zoey arrived five days earlier than expected, on a hot July Sunday just one day shy of my own mother’s birthday. Her early entry into the world seems so fitting for her now: Zoey is so excited about everything in life that, if she could, she would still show up 5 days early to make sure she didn’t miss out on the fun. As a two-year-old, she once stood in line for a full hour to get her face painted, waiting patiently beside me, not one complaint escaping her lips.

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I’d spent most of my pregnancy not sure about this whole becoming a parent thing, having decided years earlier that I would have been okay if I never had any children. But there I was, minutes away from bringing one into this world, frightened and in pain and still unsure about what I was doing… not only in giving birth, but in everything in my life. I was full of doubt. How on earth was I going to do this?

* * *

I don’t remember much about the 29 minutes that elapsed between waking up and hearing her first cry, but I know I will always remember how time stopped when they placed her in my outstretched arms.

I remember looking at her face, red from the cries that erupted from her lungs as they adjusted to the first breaths of a new world. I remember gingerly tracing her miniature hands, reveling in the five fingers they each held. I remember the way I carefully cradled her in my arms, the heat from our steadily beating hearts warming our tired bodies.

I remember the way she rooted against my chest, trying to find what her perfect little mouth knew to seek, and when she found it, I remember the way her eyes — which had remained closed until that moment—finally flickered open and met my own.

As her cries quieted, my own tears began.

* * *

Sometimes I wonder what I was doing before my daughter entered my life.

I think I was wandering around a little aimlessly, not sure of who I really was, because somewhere along the way, I’d gotten a little lost. Somewhere along the way, I fell asleep.

Up until her birth, my life had been a series new beginnings. Every promotion my father received meant a move to a new state, where a new school and a new group of friends would be. I moved away to begin college, and then after that, I found myself moving to Colorado to begin a new life on my own. Tired of not feeling rooted anywhere, I settled into a job and a life that, at the time, felt safe.

But when my daughter arrived, my world titled on its axis. She gave me a renewed purpose, and I became determined to provide her the life she deserved. And the harder I worked, the more I realized that all of the things that I wanted for her, I suddenly started wanting for myself. That realization changed everything, setting into motion another series of new beginnings. New beginnings that started when I chose to break free from places where I felt I couldn’t be the best me—not only for my daughter, but for me as well.

It’s remarkable. Because of my daughter, I finally woke up. Because of her, I never want to fall asleep again.

* * *

The other morning I walked into Zoey’s bedroom to wake her up. Upon hearing me, her eyes fluttered open. They were full of sleep and heavy with love, reminding me again of that blessed summer day when she arrived and changed everything.

“Hi, sweet girl,” I said, climbing into her bed so we could curl up together before we started our day. Zoey wrapped her arms around me as I asked my usual morning question. “What did you dream about?”

“Apples and oranges and you,” she answered in a sing-song voice, not missing a beat.

“I see,” I said as I smiled. “So everything sweet, right?” I laughed, wondering if she would get my lame joke. Zoey smiled back but shook her head.

“No, silly,” she laughed. “I dreamed about things that give me life.”

* * *

Her full name is Zoey Nicole, a name that roughly translates to mean “life victor.” I think about how she lived up to that name from the moment she entered this world because of the gift of life she bestowed upon me.

For the rest of my days, I will accept and embrace the gift that she gave me, and I vow to never let it slip away again. I owe it to her, and more importantly, I owe it to myself.

It is my ultimate hope for all of us: that we remember and acknowledge the gifts, both good and bad, that brought us here to our blessed todays. That we wake up each day, experiencing a lifetime of wonderful, magnificent resurrections, and when we do, that we open our eyes to the world and stay awake for all of the lasting, beautiful moments that weave together into this amazing thing we call life.

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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Motherly editors’ 7 favorite hacks for organizing their diaper bags

Make frantically fishing around for a diaper a thing of the past!

As any parent knows, the term "diaper bag" only scratches the surface. In reality, this catchall holds so much more: a change of clothes, bottles, snacks, wipes and probably about a dozen more essential items.

Which makes finding the exact item you need, when you need it (read: A diaper when you're in public with a blowout on your hands) kind of tricky.

That's why organization is the name of the game when it comes to outings with your littles. We pooled the Motherly team of editors to learn some favorite hacks for organizing diaper bags. Here are our top tips.

1. Divide and conquer with small bags

Here's a tip we heard more than a few times: Use smaller storage bags to organize your stuff. Not only is this helpful for keeping related items together, but it can also help keep things from floating around in the expanse of the larger diaper bag. These bags don't have to be anything particularly fancy: an unused toiletry bag, pencil case or even plastic baggies will work.

2. Have an emergency changing kit

When you're dealing with a diaper blowout situation, it's not the time to go searching for a pack of wipes. Instead, assemble an emergency changing kit ahead of time by bundling a change of baby clothes, a fresh diaper, plenty of wipes and hand sanitizer in a bag you can quickly grab. We're partial to pop-top wipes that don't dry out or get dirty inside the diaper bag.

3. Simplify bottle prep

Organization isn't just being able to find what you need, but also having what you need. For formula-feeding on the go, keep an extra bottle with the formula you need measured out along with water to mix it up. You never know when your outing will take longer than expected—especially with a baby in the mix!

4. Get resealable snacks

When getting out with toddlers and older kids, snacks are the key to success. Still, it isn't fun to constantly dig crumbs out of the bottom of your diaper bag. Our editors love pouches with resealable caps and snacks that come in their own sealable containers. Travel-sized snacks like freeze-dried fruit crisps or meal-ready pouches can get an unfair reputation for being more expensive, but that isn't the case with the budget-friendly Comforts line.

5. Keep a carabiner on your keychain

You'll think a lot about what your child needs for an outing, but you can't forget this must-have: your keys. Add a carabiner to your keychain so you can hook them onto a loop inside your diaper bag. Trust us when we say it's a much better option than dumping out the bag's contents on your front step to find your house key!

6. Bundle your essentials

If your diaper bag doubles as your purse (and we bet it does) you're going to want easy access to your essentials, too. Dedicate a smaller storage bag of your diaper bag to items like your phone, wallet and lip balm. Then, when you're ready to transfer your items to a real purse, you don't have to look for them individually.

7. Keep wipes in an outer compartment

Baby wipes aren't just for diaper changes: They're also great for cleaning up messy faces, wiping off smudges, touching up your makeup and more. Since you'll be reaching for them time and time again, keep a container of sensitive baby wipes in an easily accessible outer compartment of your bag.

Another great tip? Shop the Comforts line on www.comfortsforbaby.com to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices. Or, follow @comfortsforbaby for more information!

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that supporting Motherly and mamas.

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The American Academy of Pediatrics says that newborns, especially, do not need a bath every day. While parents should make sure the diaper region of a baby is clean, until a baby learns how to crawl around and truly get messy, a daily bath is unnecessary.

So, why do we feel like kids should bathe every day?

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