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A huge thank you to my village for showing up

The woman I am today is because of the community of women I have in my life.

A huge thank you to my village for showing up

They say it takes a village to raise a child, but I believe it takes a community of amazing and strong women to shape a mother. To find a group of women from all seasons of life, who help you and encourage you to be the best version of yourself every day, is one of the most powerful gifts a mother and woman can have.

To my mom: Thank you.

I am the woman I am today because of you, the stubbornness is dad, but the rest is you. So, thank you.

Thank you for teaching me to love unconditionally with my whole heart, everyone, regardless of differences. For encouraging me to be strong and to lead. For having the magic words to calm my soul when I need it most. For all the times you have laughed with me and cried with me and even the times you drive me crazy. For cleaning my bathrooms when I was four weeks postpartum and in tears because it was all just too much and without saying a word you knew. For the everyday phone calls on the way home from work just catching up on what the day brought us.

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Thank you.

For reminding me to stop and take a breath and savor these moments even on the days when it seems hard. For all of those years, you knew me better than I knew myself and loved me far more than I could understand.

A mother's love has no end. I get it now.

To my mom friends: Thank you.

Thank you for all the times you text just to check in and see how we are doing. For loving my baby as if he were your own. For every encouraging text, phone call and card reminding me that even on my worst days, I am a great mom. For the time you brought wine and your best lasagna casserole that I still can't make as well as you can even though you gave me the recipe.

Thank you.

For all the times you held me up when I didn't even know I needed it until you were there. For never showing judgment when you know I am in a mom rut, but offering up a Target run and a Starbucks together to clear my head. For the 10 angry text messages I send you in a row at 9:45 pm when my child refuses bedtime and my nerves are at an all-time low. Multiple times on multiple days. Each time, reminding me that like all things—it will pass. For letting me vent when I am just tired. so. tired. and I'm complaining about this, that, or the other and how I can never get ahead, even though you have the same things going on in your life right now, too. For play dates that really consist of incomplete conversations while correcting toddlers, but each time I leave refreshed and happy.

We have been through so much together. Vacations, celebrations, loss of family members, incredible hardships and life-changing events like motherhood. But one thing that is constant in all of these is you, my friend. You are "my person" and for that, I will be forever grateful.

To my friends without kids: Thank you.

For reminding me that I am more than just a parent. Amid teething and sleep deprivation you still see me as the individual I was B.C. (before children). You remind me to keep dreaming to keep pushing to do ALL the things. For your enthusiasm as you watch my child grow and learn. To see my child through your eyes, to see the amazement you see in the little things that I so often take for granted serves as a beautiful reminder of just how wonderful my kiddo really is.

Thank you.

For never holding me to unrealistic parenting standards of perfection. For acknowledging that while you are living your own life and living it well, parenting is in fact—hard. For all the times you check in on me to see how I am doing, reminding me that I can't take care of my family if I'm not taking care of myself. For being there through it all—pushing, celebrating and reminding me to never give up. You give me more strength than you know.

To my coworkers: Thank you.

Thank you for understanding when I need to leave work early to tend to my sick kiddo for the 18th time and offering no judgment. For picking up my workload while I was away on my honeymoon and maternity leave and every sickness in between.

It is rare that you find an all-women work group that works well together, but we do and we do it well. Sure we have our share of disagreements and sometimes we may even frustrate each other, but there is no judging or competition.

I am lucky to work with women who support each other and encourage one another each and every day. Women that empower one another to shatter the glass ceiling, that challenges but respects each other's differences. You inspire me daily.

So today, I wanted to stop and say thank you, even though thank you will never be enough. The woman I am today is because of the community of women I have in my life. Each one of you is a remarkable, strong person who demonstrates daily just how capable and courageous humanity can be. I consider myself lucky to have each and every one of you in my life.

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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.

Life

Errands and showers are not self-care for moms

Thinking they are is what's burning moms out.

A friend and I bump into each other at Target nearly every time we go. We don't pre-plan this; we must just be on the same paper towel use cycle or something. Really, I think there was a stretch where I saw her at Target five times in a row.

We've turned it into a bit of a running joke. "Yeah," I say sarcastically, "We needed paper towels so you know, I had to come to Target… for two hours of alone time."

She'll laugh and reply, "Oh yes, we were out of… um… paper clips. So here I am, shopping without the kids. Heaven!"

Now don't get me wrong. I adore my trips to Target (and based on the fullness of my cart when I leave, I am pretty sure Target adores my trips there, too).

But my little running joke with my friend is actually a big problem. Because why is the absence of paper towels the thing that prompts me to get a break? And why on earth is buying paper towels considered a break for moms?

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