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I miss family who live far away—so FaceTime makes a huge difference

It's become a familiar part of their bedtime routine. They FaceTime their grandparents during bathtime or before book negotiations and they get to recount their day or say goodnight with virtual kisses and hugs.

I miss family who live far away—so FaceTime makes a huge difference

My children are never going to know a life without FaceTime. That's wild. I didn't even have Facebook until the end of freshman year in college! I still had a flip phone then! I texted with T9 until I was like 23!

FaceTime, to them, is a normal way to call their grandparents and aunts and uncles to say hi. It's something to do when they're bored at home. It's a way to see family that lives far away, and even to check in on what their cousins are doing in the next town over.

They argue over who is going to hang up when they're done ("I want to press the red button!") and who gets to hold the phone when we're chatting. And I'm sure they've caused some nausea on the other end of our calls based on the way they run around like maniacs when they do get their turn to hold it. (Blair Witch Project, Toddler Edition. Sorry, family!)

My parents and one of my sisters live five hours south of us, and my husband's parents live three hours north of us. Plus, I have a brother and sister-in-law across the country. So we have used FaceTime for some of our biggest, happiest moments—to include the people we love most in the celebrations we wish they could be there for in person.

Singing happy birthday at parties, finding out whether we were having a boy or a girl, right after our siblings have gotten engaged, meeting our newborn babies fresh out of the womb, before the first day of school, on Christmas morning, when we were away on our special trip to Ireland and when they were in Disney, for lots of our kiddo's firsts like rolling over, trying solid food, and walking.

It makes me sad, sometimes, to think about missing out on each other's lives just because we don't live by one another. I can't run over to my New York sister's house to see her daughter in the cute pajamas we got her, but they can FaceTime us to show us.

I can't jump on a plane to zoom over to California the second my nephew is born, but I can FaceTime to see his beautiful little face shortly after he makes his debut. I couldn't make it to my sister's baby shower because I was suuuuper pregnant, but I was FaceTimed in for a bit to join the fun.

FaceTime is there for everyday moments, too. My middle daughter literally played hide and go seek with my father-in-law on FaceTime the other day for like 15 minutes. She would put the phone in the refrigerator of her play kitchen then run away or put him in a box with the top on and giggle uncontrollably. And Grandma FaceTimed with them recently while they were eating their lunch, and she read books to them for about a half hour while I tidied up the house! (That was probably the most useful FaceTiming we've ever done.)

We FaceTime whenever they want to see Uncle Pat's dogs in Cali or Nana and Poppa's birds in New York… when they want to show Aunt Kelly something they just learned… or when they want to see either of their great grandpas to chat (which their bond with them is thanks in part to staying connected over Facetime!).

It's become a familiar part of their bedtime routine. They FaceTime their grandparents during bathtime or before book negotiations and they get to recount their day or say goodnight with virtual kisses and hugs.

I realize that having the ability to FaceTime is a privilege we now have in our lives. It's not something I grew up with, but something my siblings and I definitely could have benefitted from. Especially in terms of our maternal grandparent relationship—they lived all the way in South Carolina and we didn't get to see them as much as we wished we did.

That's why I'm grateful for Facetime. It definitely doesn't replace real face time—nothing could compare to an in-person hug or hanging out together IRL—but it does provide a sweet buffer in the in-betweens.

When they ask to call someone, they usually automatically mean a FaceTime call, not an actual phone call. And I love that they get to see the faces of the people they're looking to connect with. It's a little something that always brings a lot of joy to their days and I know it is helping to strengthen the important relationships in their lives.

They may not get to be with all the people they love every day, but at least they can see them if they want. (Well, if they stop shaking the phone so much and hold it high enough for the other person to see their face and not just their chin…)

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Including a battle plan for clogged ducts!

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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boob-ease soothing therapy pillows

Boob Ease soothing therapy pillows

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Belly Bandit perfect nursing tee

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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.

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Lactation Lab basic breastmilk testing kit

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12 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

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

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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.

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Balance board

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Baby forest fox ride-on

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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.

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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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In Montessori schools, parents are periodically invited to observe their children at work in the classroom. I have heard many parents express shock to see their 3- or 4-year-old putting away their own work when they finish—without even being asked!

"You should see his room at home!" or, "I ask him to put his toys away every day, and it's a battle every single time" were frequent comments.

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