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Boob Tube Cravings

Whenever the topic of maternity leave came up inevitably--at least amongst my friends--there would be some mention of it being a great time to catch up on all the television I hadn't been able to watch because of, well, life. And in my mind, and my Hulu/Netflix/Roku cues, I had an extensive collection of series I intended to watch.

However, when I actually found myself on leave with babe in lap and remote in hand, my hazy, sleep-deprived mind found it very difficult to actually pick what I wanted to watch. I had a few false starts with shows that my previously bright mind and inquisitive nature would have found terribly satiating but my newly exhausted and easily distracted self found too complex or lengthy.

I eventually found my way--with the gentle guidance of a few pop culture-savvy non-exhausted friends--to a satisfying assortment of short-form entertainment. So, in hopes of making it easier for some other weary mama looking to snuggle in for some quality viewing, I've assembled a few recommendations and grouped them according to craving.

Chocolate: Comforting, familiar and easy to take in.

Felicity: Yes, it is dated. No, it was not groundbreaking television. But when you need something that is familiar and also capable of transporting you back to your younger self, Felicity is just the ticket. I remember watching it in my living room in Minneapolis as a high school sophomore and getting totally swept up in the romance of moving to New York for college, love, drama and all the other interesting scenarios Felicity served up in its four season run. And, for those of you who didn't stick around for the whole thing the first time--I dropped off after year three--I strongly recommend revisiting Felicity because "interesting scenarios" is pretty much the best way to describe JJ Abraham's trajectory for that last season without giving it away.

See also: Dawson's Creek, Gilmore Girls.

Spicy Thai: Interesting, moderately complex and addictive.

Top of the Lake: We had a few rainy days when we were stuck inside while on vacation, and decided to start this series one morning. Next thing I knew, I looked up the day was gone. I'll be honest, Top Of The Lake does move a bit slow at times, but I found those lags helpful for figuring out exactly what was going on. The acting is superb, the story--written by Jane Campion--very well woven, and the landscape it all plays out against is stunning. You'll want to watch the seven episodes as quickly as your little one will allow.

See also: Prime Suspect, Fargo.

Shortbread: British, tasty and vastly underrated.

Derek: This show is one of the best I've seen in the last few years. It is Ricky Gervais at his very best. Sometimes his humor can make me uncomfortable--I love the original Office, but it did make me squirm--but this show is a total departure from his normal approach. Derek plays a nursing home attendant who shares his unique and honest perspective of the little community he works amongst. The story is told with candor, humor and a tenderness that is almost totally absent from most television today.

See also: The Misfits, The IT Crowd

Raspberries: Nourishing, unique and you always wish there were more.

Sports Night: This is one of those shows that once you watch it and find others who have also seen it, you'll fall into immediate conversation--and probably friendship--because to know Sports Night is to love each and every episode and character. This was Aaron Sorkin's first television show, and it has all the trademarks of his work; smart characters, quick and endearing dialogue, and really great story arcs. It's also where you'll find a bunch of really fabulous actors popping up. It only lasted for two seasons, and I consider it a total bummer that we didn't get to travel further with our friends at the Continental Sports Channel.

Veronica Mars, Arrested Development

Pop Rocks: Childish, fun and necessary

Adventure Time: This is not the children's programming of your youth. In fact, I'm not entirely sure this is something I'll be showing my kid for a few more years. But it makes for some perfect maternity leave watching. The episodes are only 11 minutes long and have absolutely no basis in anything that resembles reality, so your spaced out mind can go on cruise control and you can enjoy this little gem of a show in short, easy to digest, bites. You'll be following Jake, the dog, and Finn, the human, on all their weird and obtuse adventures, and at times you won't know whether your mind is playing tricks on you or the show's writers have simply gone insane. But that's ok, just go with it.

See also: Broad City, Bob's Burgers

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Without camps and back-to-school plans still TBD, the cries of "I'm bored!" seem to be ringing louder than ever this summer. And if you're anything like me, by August, I'm fresh out of boxes to check on my "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys.

With that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite wooden toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play.

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

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

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

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

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When expecting a baby, there is a lot you can test-run in advance: Take that stroller around the block. Go for a spin with the car seat secured in place. Learn how to use the baby carrier with help from a doll. But breastfeeding? It's not exactly possible to practice before baby's arrival.

The absence of a trial makes it all the more important to prepare in other ways for breastfeeding success—and it can be as simple as adding a few of our lactation aiding favorites to your registry.

MilkBliss chocolate chip soft baked lactation cookies

MilkBliss lactation cookies

Studies have shown the top reason women stop breastfeeding within the first year is because they are concerned about their milk supply being enough to nourish baby. Consider MilkBliss Lactation Cookies to be your secret weapon. Not only are they wholesome and delicious, but they were formulated specifically for breastfeeding moms based on the science of galactagogues—also known as milk boosters. They also come in peanut butter and wild blueberry flavors.

$23

Evereden multi-purpose healing balm

Evereden multipurpose healing balm

Also up there on the list of reasons women stop breastfeeding: the toll the early days can take on nipples. Made from just five ingredients, this all natural healing balm is ideal for soothing chafed nipples, making for a much more comfortable experience for mama as her body adjusts to the needs of a breastfeeding baby.

$20

Lansinoh milk storage bags

Lansinoh milk storage bags

For a breastfeeding mama, there are few things more precious and valuable than the milk she worked so hard to pump—and it's the stuff of nightmares to imagine it spilling out in the fridge. With these double-sealed milk storage bags, you can be assured your breastmilk is safe and sound until baby needs it.

$12.50

Belly Bandit bandita nursing bra

Belly Bandit bandita nursing bra

Nursing a baby is a 24/7 job, which calls for some wardrobe modifications. Because Belly Bandit specializes in making things more comfortable for the postpartum mama, they've truly thought of every detail—from the breathable fabric to the clips that can be easily opened with one hand.

$47

boob-ease soothing therapy pillows

Boob Ease soothing therapy pillows

For nursing moms, duct can quickly become a four-letter word when you suspect it's getting clogged. By keeping these soothing breast pillows in your breastfeeding arsenal, you can immediately go on the defense against plugged milk ducts by heating the pads in the microwave or cooling them in the freezer.

$25

Belly Bandit perfect nursing tee

Belly Bandit perfect nursing tee

A unfortunate reality of nursing is that it can really seem to limit the wardrobe options when you have to think about providing easy, discrete access. But by adding functional basics to your closet, you can feel confident and prepared for breastfeeding on the go.

$59

Bebe au Lait premium cotton nursing cover

Bebe au Lait cotton nursing cover

Nursing in public isn't every mama's cup of tea. But babies can't always wait until you've found a private place to get down to business if that's your preference. That's where a nursing cover comes in handy. This one is made from premium cotton and features a patented neckline that allows for airflow and eye contact even while you're covered.

$36

Lactation Lab basic breastmilk testing kit

Lactation Lab breastmilk testing kit

Curious to learn more about the liquid gold you're making, mama? The testing kit from Lactation Labs analyzes your breast milk for basic nutritional content like calories and protein, as well as vitamins, fatty acids and environmental toxins to help boost your breastfeeding confidence.

$99

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Because parenthood is challenging, we can sometimes forget how to just be happy in the midst of it all.

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