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Sometimes I miss normalcy so badly it hurts

One day, it will come back. But not yet.

Little Girl Visits Grandparents Through Window

I've woken up every morning since mid-March with the realization that this is still happening. We are still living through a pandemic. Sometimes it washes over me gradually like nostalgia. Sometimes it knocks the breath out of my lungs like a sucker punch.

This isn't normal.

I had to order five masks (one for each day of the week) as part of my son's back to school shopping. I tamped down the sadness and dread I felt imagining him wearing them all day long at Pre-K. The mask will hide his smile and muffle his giggles as he plays, but it will keep his teacher and his friends safe. I hope.

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This isn't normal.

I walked leisurely around the grocery store the other day. Most of the empty shelves that existed at the beginning of the pandemic panic are full again, except for the shelves for disinfectants and cleaners. They still stand empty, a stark reminder that we're still doing all we can to protect ourselves from this novel coronavirus that has wreaked havoc on our lives. I never knew I would pine for Lysol this much.

This isn't normal.



My husband prepares for a visit to see his 94-year-old grandfather—the first time he's been allowed visitors in months. I'm terrified at the prospect of bringing something to his home that could cause him to get sick, but I also know the loneliness and isolation of the past months have done their own damage to Grandpa. My husband is going to mask up, go through temperature checks and try not to hug his own grandfather when he sees him.

This isn't normal.

I have actual dreams about life either before or after the pandemic—I can't quite tell.

They're simple dreams. Sometimes it's a scene of walking into a crowded restaurant with my family. We're unmasked, following the hostess as she leads us to our table. We pass a large group singing happy birthday to their aunt. Another group chattering loudly and leaning into each other conspiratorially as they tell stories and jokes.

Sometimes it's a dream of hugging the people I haven't seen since the beginning of 2020 (or in some cases, since 2019). My college roommate. My sister. My dad. We're hugging without the layer of caution and anxiety that accompanies personal interaction these days. We're hugging extra long without a care in the world.

I miss normalcy so badly it hurts.

I miss these dreams that used to be reality.

I miss the casual interactions of everyday life, the quick smiles with a stranger when you catch their eye, or the ease with which we used to stand next to each other at a crosswalk waiting for the light to turn.

I miss watching my son and his friends during a play date. The way a group of 3 and 4-year-olds can sound as loud as a cheering baseball stadium. The intensity of their imagination as they make up characters and scenarios, "You're the bad guy and I'm the good guy and I'm going to chase you to bring you to jail."

"Ahhh, nooo, don't chase me!" The stomping and running that follows.

My only son has had limited interaction outside of our family members for almost the entire time he's been 4 years old. It hurts to think about the memories he is missing out on.

I miss brunch with my friends. Or, more accurately, trying to make plans to have brunch with my friends for one or two months at a time, until we finally find that magical window when everyone can get a sitter or their partner or their neighbor to take the kids for a few so we can all sit around and catch up and feel like us again, not just mom.

I miss leaving for a date night. Showing the babysitter where the emergency numbers are and telling her that if my son gets up to ask for a snack, he can have peanut butter and jelly. I miss feeling safe leaving him home for a few while my husband and I catch up with each other. Getting a chance to really see and be with each other as friends and partners, not just parents.

I miss normalcy so badly it hurts.

One day, it will come back. But not yet. Not yet.

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

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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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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When Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg died on Friday her spot on the Supreme Court was vacated and on Monday President Trump said he is prepared to make his third U.S. Supreme Court nomination this week. "I will announce it either Friday or Saturday," Trump said on Fox News, adding, "We should wait until the services are over for Justice Ginsburg."

Now, CNN reports President Trump plans to choose Judge Amy Coney Barrett for the Supreme Court Nomination. He is expected to make the announcement on Saturday.

According to CNN, senior Republican sources are "indicating that Barrett is the intended nominee... All sources cautioned that until it is announced by the President, there is always the possibility that Trump makes a last-minute change but the expectation is Barrett is the choice."

President Trump says a vote on this Supreme Court nominee should come before the upcoming presidential election (a move that goes against Ginsberg's last wishes—and the precedent set by the senate in 2016). The President previously said he was looking seriously at five candidates for the spot, but during his Fox News interview on Monday, he only mentioned two: Amy Coney Barrett and Barbara Lagoa.

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