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A love letter to my best friend: Do you know how amazing you are?

I hope that you can stop and take a minute to see yourself through my eyes.

letter to my best friend

Dear friend,

I wanted to write to you to tell you something.

Sometimes when you're venting to me about a mistake you made or how you can't find anything to wear that looks good on you, I'm baffled. I'm baffled because I don't see those things. You have these insecurities that I know about because we're best friends—but I don't see them.

To me, I see this incredible person who amazes me on a daily basis. Someone who is generous and kind and compassionate. I see a mother giving it her all—day in and day out. No matter what. And I just wanted to take a second to acknowledge what a gift you are. To me, and to your family.

To me, you are beautiful.


You say you've gained 10 pounds. You are extremely hard on yourself when you don't get to the gym because you're tired. You wish your belly was flat and hate the thought of putting a bathing suit on. You joke about getting a boob job one day because your breasts are deflated from nursing.

I don't see these things.

I see this strong body that has gone through pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding. I see your happy, sparkling eyes and healthy, shiny hair. I see how put together you always look—even in yoga pants and a t-shirt. I see someone whose heart is bigger than anyone else's. I see your beauty—inside and out.

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Make her smile with a 'just because' gift


To me, you are intelligent.

I often get texts from you way after the fact of my original text. I'll read something from you like, “My brain is mush! I'm sorry for the delay!" And I always say (and feel) that you should never apologize like that to me. Because I get it.

I don't believe these things.

Because you have great ideas! You can solve problems quickly. You have awesome suggestions and a wealth of great tips from everything on parenting to makeup to podcasts. You're articulate and creative. You're inquisitive and well-read. You are someone who is always learning, always growing, always looking to better yourself.

To me, you are strong.

You feel weak at times. Powerless because of the chaos that is raising little children. Worried sick, staying up at night wondering if you're doing anything right. You're so hard on yourself when something goes wrong. You feel overwhelmed, and sometimes, even like you're drowning. Drowning in 'stuff', in requests, in to-do's, in reminders, in tasks, in, well—motherhood.

But I see a multitasker.

Someone who can get all of the really important things done—and they may not always be perfect, they may not be always on time—but they get done. And they get done well. I see someone who takes time for themselves when they know they're beyond burnt out. You have inspired me to fill up my own cup many times. You're doing a lot right. And you should be proud of yourself.

To me, you are a fantastic mother.

There have been times that you've told me you feel like you're failing. Times you have flat out felt like a bad mom. Times where you've been vulnerable and confessed you had no idea what to do. That you're not prepared for some of these motherhood curve balls that are thrown out at us.

Well, to me, from the outside looking in—you are a really, really good mom.

You've got this thing down. You have beautiful, happy, kind, loving children. You are authentic. You are brave. You put your heart and soul into this role of 'mother' and if you ask me—you should wear that title like a badge of honor.

To me, you are a good friend.

You feel like you're boring, like you don't do anything interesting anymore. Like you're too tired to make plans and go out and do things friends do. You feel like you're not there for me as much as I need you to be, or that you want to be. But, the truth is, you're busy. You have a family to care for and they are your priority. Guess what, mama? I understand. I do, too.

You will always be my person.

You will always be the friend I can go to with anything—at any time. You will always make me laugh the hardest. No matter how long it's been since we've spoken on the phone or how many days have passed since we've texted or how many months it's been since I've gotten a real life in-person hug—our friendship will always be strong, loyal, and most important—real.

To me, you are enough.

More than enough. You may question yourself on a daily basis. Your confidence may be shaky at times. You may want to give up on those really crazy days. And you may not always believe in yourself.

But I just want to tell you. I wholeheartedly believe in you.

I respect you. I admire you. I'll always be here for you to vent to or troubleshoot with. And I'll always be here to lift you up and remind you just how amazing you really are.

So today, and all days, I hope that you can stop and take a minute to see yourself through my eyes. Because you are one heck of a woman. And I'm just glad I know you.

Love,

Me

True

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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I never wanted to be a mom. It wasn't something I ever thought would happen until I fell madly in love with my husband—who knew very well he wanted children. While he was a natural at entertaining our nephews or our friends' kids, I would awkwardly try to interact with them, not really knowing what to say or do.

Our first pregnancy was a surprise, a much-wanted one but also a unicorn, "first try" kind of pregnancy. As my belly grew bigger, so did my insecurities. How do you even mom when you never saw motherhood in your future? I focused all my uncertainties on coming up with a plan for the delivery of my baby—which proved to be a terrible idea when my dreamed-of unmedicated vaginal birth turned into an emergency C-section. I couldn't even start motherhood the way I wanted, I thought. And that feeling happened again when I couldn't breastfeed and instead had to pump and bottle-feed. And once more, when all the stress from things not going my way turned into debilitating postpartum anxiety that left me not really enjoying my brand new baby.

As my baby grew, slowly so did my confidence that I could do this. When he would tumble to the ground while learning how to walk and only my hugs could calm him, I felt invincible. But on the nights he wouldn't sleep—whether because he was going through a regression, a leap, a teeth eruption or just a full moon—I would break down in tears to my husband telling him that he was a better parent than me.

Then I found out I was pregnant again, and that this time it was twins. I panicked. I really cannot do two babies at the same time. I kept repeating that to myself (and to my poor husband) at every single appointment we had because I was just terrified. He, of course, thought I could absolutely do it, and he got me through a very hard pregnancy.

When the twins were born at full term and just as big as singleton babies, I still felt inadequate, despite the monumental effort I had made to grow these healthy babies and go through a repeat C-section to make sure they were both okay. I still felt my skin crawl when they cried and thought, What if I can't calm them down? I still turned to my husband for diaper changes because I wasn't a good enough mom for twins.

My husband reminded me (and still does) that I am exactly what my babies need. That I am enough. A phrase that has now become my mantra, both in motherhood and beyond, because as my husband likes to say, I'm the queen of selling myself short on everything.

So when my babies start crying, I tell myself that I am enough to calm them down.

When my toddler has a tantrum, I remind myself that I am enough to get through to him.

When I go out with the three kids by myself and start sweating about everything that could go wrong (poop explosions times three), I remind myself that I am enough to handle it all, even with a little humor.


And then one day I found this bracelet. Initially, I thought how cheesy it'd be to wear a reminder like this on my wrist, but I bought it anyway because something about it was calling my name. I'm so glad I did because since day one I haven't stopped wearing it.

Every time I look down, there it is, shining back at me. I am enough.

I Am Enough bracelet 

SONTAKEY  I Am Enough Bracelet

May this Oath Bracelet be your reminder that you are perfect just the way you are. That you are enough for your children, you are enough for your friends & family, you are enough for everything that you do. You are enough, mama <3

$35

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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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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