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I am so thankful for this beautiful chaos that is motherhood

Three little kids, a husband, a full time job, a house, a dog, and 1,000 other random things that require my attention—it's a lot. A lot of chaos, a lot of mess, and lot of exhaustion.

I am so thankful for this beautiful chaos that is motherhood

I do a lot of deep sighing throughout the day.

I'd like to tell you it's because I am practicing some deep mindful reflection and breathing, but more often than not it's more of an, Okay mama, three hours 'til bedtime, you've got this breathing.

Three little kids, a husband, a full time job, a house, a dog, and 1,000 other random things that require my attention—it's a lot. A lot of chaos, a lot of mess, and lot of exhaustion.

But there is so much beauty in that chaos—so much. And when I really stop and think about what it means, it takes my breath away.

I am thankful for a hamper full of little pants, jeans with grass stains on them, because it means my kids are playing out in nature.

I am thankful for a sink full of dirty dishes because it means we have food to eat.

I am thankful for the back-and-forth-and-back-again driving I do, because it means that my kids get to go to school and receive an education.

I am thankful for coffee. So very, very thankful ☕️.

I am thankful for the never-ending stream of "Why? Why? Why?" because it means my children are passionately curious about the world.

I am thankful for doctor appointments, because it means we have access to medical care.

I am thankful for a whole house to clean because it means I have a home.

I am thankful that I have to invent thousands of ways to say, "Wow that's amazing!" when my kids show me stuff because it means they want me involved in their lives.

I am thankful that my kids think cereal for dinner is, "So silly, mommy!" instead of, "Come on that's pretty lazy, mom."

I am thankful that my husband doesn't notice when I get my hair done because he thinks I'm pretty anyway.

I am thankful for feeling so gross when I have a cold because it means that when I don't have a cold, I feel really good and healthy.

I am thankful for deadlines and meetings and work-induced stress, because it means I have a job I love that's really important to me.

I am thankful for warm sweaters on cold days .

I am thankful for the constant clutter because it means that we have more than we need, and not less than.

I am thankful for never feeling like I have enough time in the day because it means my life is full.

I am thankful for missing my friends because it means I have relationships worth feeling sad over.

I am thankful for Target. Because Target.

I am thankful for the times my daughter talks back to me because it means she feels confident enough to stand up for herself.

I am thankful for the times my middle guy demands I kiss him 174 times before I walk out the door even when—especially when—I am already late, because it means... well, it means everything.

I am thankful for the times my youngest guy burrows his head in my neck and won't let me put him down because it means he feels safe with me.

I am thankful that my husband gets upset when we don't spend enough time together because it means I have a partner who loves me ❤️.

I am thankful for the outrage that I witness about the current state of the world because it means I live in a community that still cares.

I am thankful for when my dad calls me three times in one weekend to remind me to get my flu shot because it means I have parents who still want to take care of me.

I am thankful for my dog because he's just really stinking cute.

I am thankful for the constant self-battle to stop spending so much time on my phone because it means I have access to information and technology.

I am thankful when my kids are way more excited to see Daddy than me because it means I picked the best father in the world for them.

I am thankful for red wine and fireplaces and cheese.

I am thankful for the absolute exhaustion I feel at the end of the day because it means I LIVED my life.

I am thankful for the tiny hands and loud voices that wake me up way too early every morning because my goodness I can't imagine my life without them.

I am thankful that I'm learning to find the beauty in the chaos. Because there is a lot of chaos—but there is also so much beauty.

I am thankful to have had another year to spend with my family. A year full of tantrums, and picky eating, and messes, and "I don't want to wear this itchy sweater"s, and "Moooo-oooom, I need more toilet paper"s...

Because it means that I am the luckiest mom in the whole world. Sigh.

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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This is my one trick to get baby to sleep (and it always works!)

There's a reason why every mom tells you to buy a sound machine.

So in my defense, I grew up in Florida. As a child of the sunshine state, I knew I had to check for gators before sitting on the toilet, that cockroaches didn't just scurry, they actually flew, and at that point, the most popular and only sound machine I had ever heard of was the Miami Sound Machine.

I was raised on the notion that the rhythm was going to get me, not lull me into a peaceful slumber. Who knew?!

Well evidently science and, probably, Gloria Estefan knew, but I digress.

When my son was born, I just assumed the kid would know how to sleep. When I'm tired that's what I do, so why wouldn't this smaller more easily exhausted version of me not work the same way? Well, the simple and cinematic answer is, he is not in Kansas anymore.

Being in utero is like being in a warm, soothing and squishy spa. It's cozy, it's secure, it comes with its own soundtrack. Then one day the spa is gone. The space is bigger, brighter and the constant stream of music has come to an abrupt end. Your baby just needs a little time to acclimate and a little assist from continuous sound support.

My son, like most babies, was a restless and active sleeper. It didn't take much to jolt him from a sound sleep to crying like a banshee. I once microwaved a piece of pizza, and you would have thought I let 50 Rockettes into his room to perform a kick line.

I was literally walking on eggshells, tiptoeing around the house, watching the television with the closed caption on.

Like adults, babies have an internal clock. Unlike adults, babies haven't harnessed the ability to hit the snooze button on that internal clock. Lucky for babies they have a great Mama to hit the snooze button for them.

Enter the beloved by all—sound machines.

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It's science: Why your baby stops crying when you stand up

A fascinating study explains why.

When your baby is crying, it feels nearly instinctual to stand up to rock, sway and soothe them. That's because standing up to calm babies is instinctual—driven by centuries of positive feedback from calmed babies, researchers have found.

"Infants under 6 months of age carried by a walking mother immediately stopped voluntary movement and crying and exhibited a rapid heart rate decrease, compared with holding by a sitting mother," say authors of a 2013 study published in Current Biology.

Even more striking: This coordinated set of actions—the mother standing and the baby calming—is observed in other mammal species, too. Using pharmacologic and genetic interventions with mice, the authors say, "We identified strikingly similar responses in mouse pups as defined by immobility and diminished ultrasonic vocalizations and heart rate."

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