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Motherhood is: Having mixed emotions about your baby starting kindergarten

You'd think I wouldn't need to blink an eye about today, but you're wrong.

Motherhood is: Having mixed emotions about your baby starting kindergarten

Today was THE day. A big, monumental day in the mind of a mother: Kindergarten registration. I laugh as I write this because it's not even the actual first day of kindergarten, but it is important nonetheless. And, to be honest, my world is spinning a mile a minute right now.

Interestingly enough, I'm a grade school teacher. I've worked in public education for an extraordinary school district for more than a decade. I've won educator awards, held leadership roles, written curriculum, conducted staff in-service instruction in front of hundreds and recently created a website for teachers and parents connecting them to the modern world of elementary education and all of the incredible resources we have available to us.

You'd think I wouldn't need to blink an eye about today, but you're wrong.

My first son is a beautiful soul. He is playful and funny, loves building Legos and having Army battles, and also loves mooning us at bathtime. He has strengths God blessed him with like an impeccable memory and a contagious belly laugh.

He shows his uneasiness when he hugs onto my leg and nuzzles his head as a stranger walks up to us a little too fast and looks to me first before responding. When he rubs his fingers across his (usually pursed chapped) lips, I know he's nervous or lost in thought. I recently noticed I do that too, so what can I say. My son. I love every piece of him.

Today was a moment, though. He's almost ready to enter my world of expertise, and to share it with him through his lens excites me and breaks my mama heart a little bit.

I'm excited for him to be challenged and engrossed in the wonderful learning opportunities planned for him each day. Seeing him question the world around him, noticing the finer details in life that we often forget to recognize—it all makes my heart explode with joy.

Simultaneously, he's (almost) too heavy for me to carry upstairs when he falls asleep on the couch or wants to be an airplane again like his little brother. I no longer need to brush his teeth after him to "make sure" we did a decent job, and I not only long for him to help around the house, I expect it. Carry your plate over. Let the dog out. Help your brother fix this or that. Make your bed.

When I feel him on my leg as the Kindergarten teacher comes over to greet us for some basic testing I think, C'mon, smile, be you, buddy. I think, You should see him at his best, he's usually not this shy, and then it comes to the forefront: I want you to love him as much as I do.

Today, and when the first "real day" comes, I want what (I think) we all want. I want him to be accepted. I want him to love learning. I want him to know that it's a forever skill and can occur anywhere, anytime—not just within the walls of this school.

I want him to find some buddies who have similar interests. Who like to laugh. Who are kind. Whose parents are kind. I want him to be loved by his teachers. I want them to accept him for him, blessings and quirks, and help reinforce what we care about in our house—all of him. Social skills, academic success, mental health, safety. These things are important to me, they're important to most of us, and they are all a part of finding a balance.

And while my mom self would love a narrative of his daily work, his insights, his growth, my teacher self knows the reality of a classroom. If given the choice, I'd choose to have a teacher spend time being engaged with instructing kids and planning lessons and discussions versus responding to my emails and questions.

Teachers have so many incredible options available to support the core curriculum now. If given the choice, I'd rather his teacher focus on being his or her absolute best, their own level of awesome, for my son and for the entire class. If given the choice, I'd prefer their time not be taken by my desire to obtain every little detail of what's going on (no matter how much I'd love to hear it).

Every now and then, I hope my son's kindergarten teacher shows me something small to let me know that she loves him too, that she sees the essence of him as I do. And I'll do my best to support him and you from the homefront.

Today, in my mind, was THE day, and we made it through just fine. We are so fortunate to have so many of THESE DAYS ahead of us.

I know in my heart he's ready.

I know we're ready.

Bring it, kindergarten.

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14 toys that will keep your kids entertained inside *and* outside

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With fall 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 outside-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.

Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden 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

Detective set

Plan Toys detective 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

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

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

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

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This post is brought to you by Staples. While this was a sponsored opportunity, all content and opinions expressed here are my own.

One of the biggest changes in my household once my daughter started homeschooling was that, suddenly, everything and everyone in our home had to start pulling double duty. While I was used to wearing a lot of hats (mom, wife and WFH employee, to name a few), suddenly our dining room was also pulling shifts as a classroom. My laptop was also a virtual teacher. Our living room hutch was also a school supply closet.

If I didn't want my home to be overrun with an abundance of clutter, I had to find products that could multitask. Here are 10 products that are saving this WFH + homeschooling mama right now.

Stylish storage cabinet

Whether I need a place to keep the printer or just want to keep crayons and colored pencils organized, this pretty cabinet provides a mixture of exposed and hidden storage without clashing with my living room decor.

White board calendar + bulletin board

With so much on our plates these days, I need a visual reminder of our daily schedule or I'll forget everything. This dry erase version makes it easy to keep track of Zoom meetings and virtual classes—and I also love using the corkboard to display my daughter's latest work from art class.

Natural Recycled 3-Ring Binder

From tracking our curriculum progress to organizing my family's paperwork, I can never have enough binders. Even better, this neutral version is pretty enough that I can display them on the bookshelf.

Bamboo storage drawers

The instant you start homeschooling, it can feel like you're suddenly drowning in papers, craft supplies and more. Fortunately, these simple bamboo drawers can be tucked into the cabinet or even displayed on top (seriously, they're that cute!) to keep what we need organized and close at hand.

Laminated world map

I love this dry-erase map for our geography lessons, but the real secret? It also makes a cute piece of wall decor for my work space.

Rolling 7-drawer cabinet

When you're doing it all from home, you sometimes have to roll with the punches—I strongly recommend getting an organizational system that rolls with you. On days when both my husband and I are working from home and I need to move my daughter's classes to another room, this 7-drawer cabinet makes it easy to bring the classroom with us.

Letterboard

From our first day of school photo to displaying favorite quotes to keep myself motivated, this 12"x18" letterboard is my favorite thing to display in our home.

Expandable tablet stand

Word to the wise: Get a pretty tablet stand you won't mind seeing out every day. (Because between virtual playdates, my daughter's screen time and my own personal use, this thing never gets put away.)

Neutral pocket chart

Between organizing my daughter's chore chart, displaying our weekly sight words and providing a fits-anywhere place to keep supplies on hand, this handy little pocket chart is a must-have for homeschooling families.

Totable fabric bins

My ultimate hack for getting my family to clean up after themselves? These fabric bins. I can use them to organize my desk, store my oldest's books and even keep a bin of toys on hand for the baby to play with while we do school. And when playtime is over, it's easy for everyone to simply put everything back in the bin and pop it in the cabinet.

Looking for study solutions for older children? Hop over to Grown & Flown for their top picks for Back to School.

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Chrissy Teigen opens up on losing her baby: 'Our grief was so public'

"He just wouldn't survive this, and if it went on any longer, I might not either."

Chrissy Teigen/Instagram

Chrissy Teigen (and any parent mourning their baby) gets to grieve however they want to. And for Teigen, a person who lives life out loud on the Internet, sharing her story was part of mourning, and she just shared more of it.

When Teigen and her husband John Legend lost their third child, Jack, about halfway through Teigen's pregnancy, many internet commenters were shocked that Teigen chose to share photos of the event on Instagram. But in a powerful essay for Medium, Teigen made it clear that she doesn't care what people think about those pictures. She posted them for herself and for mamas who've lived it.

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"I cannot express how little I care that you hate the photos. How little I care that it's something you wouldn't have done. I lived it, I chose to do it, and more than anything, these photos aren't for anyone but the people who have lived this or are curious enough to wonder what something like this is like. These photos are only for the people who need them. The thoughts of others do not matter to me."

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