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Marriage is: Choosing each other again and again (and again)

When it's beautiful and inspiring, when it's hard and tiring, when it's fun and adventurous, when it's mundane and monotonous.

marriage after baby

To my love,

Today, after I showered, I dried off, got dressed, and slipped my wedding band back on before I brushed my hair. For some reason, today I stopped and looked at my ring and thought to myself, What a funny tradition wedding bands are.

I remember when we picked it out together. I remember when you slipped it on my finger five and a half years ago. And even though the whole thing is a little strange to me (that some people symbolize their partnership with a ring)—I also think it's a beautiful tradition and a sweet reminder of where our story began. It's a reminder of the commitment we've made to each other. But engagement rings and wedding bands and wedding ceremonies and witnesses and signed documents are all more grand gestures of a couple's commitments to each other.

I'm noticing, more and more every day, that our commitment to each other is woven into our every day. It's in the small things, and the big things. The quiet things and the boisterous things. It's simple and special. Sweet and proud.


I see your commitment when you wake up at 3 am to calm our crying kiddo—even though you have to wake up in two hours. Or when I am on my third nursing session of the night and it's not even 3 am yet.

I feel your commitment when you gently rub my back or lovingly cover me with a blanket when I fall asleep on the couch. Or when I rub your back just because, or when I manage to make dinner for the family (no matter how much whining or fighting might be going on at the very same time…)

I see our commitment to each other every time you make me a cup of coffee in the morning, and greet me with a sleepy kiss. Even though you're rushing around trying to get out the door. Or when I make your cup first before making my own on a Sunday morning. (We're a different coffee flavor couple, you're "regular," I'm "hazelnut.")

I feel your commitment when I lock eyes with you from across the room and you make your way to me to see if I need anything. To make sure I'm okay. Or when I come to your defense when our family is giving you a hard time.

I see our commitment when we actually hold our budget meetings and talk about what we're doing well and where we need to be better. Because we're planning and saving for our future. We're bettering our lives and our children's lives.

I feel our commitment every time we talk about going on a family adventure together. And every time we take one. No matter how difficult it is, no matter how much we have to plan and pack—they are always worth it.

I see our commitment when we have to say "no" to that really amazing sounding bachelor of bachelorette party because we can't really swing it right now with three young children.

I feel our commitment when you accept my apology. When I curl into your arms and lay next to you even after (very) dramatically declaring, "I'm just going to go sleep on the couch!" 10 minutes prior. Or in the way we sit with each other—the only other person we'd want to be with—when we receive sad news like the passing of a dear friend or about a sick grandparent.

I see our commitment when you drop the argument. When you let me win. Or when I bite my tongue to let you get the last word—even when I may want to say more. (Sometimes a lot more if I'm being honest…😂)

I feel our commitment when we text each other throughout the day to check in with one another. Just to say hi, and let the other one know we're thinking of them. To feel each other even when we're not physically together.

I see our commitment when you wake up before 5 am and rush out the door to catch your train and work hard all day for your family. Or when I stay up late at night catching up on work.

I feel our commitment when you listen to my wildest dreams and cheer me on while I work hard to make them come true.

I think what solidifies a partnership most—even more so than saying your vows or raising a child together—is committing to each other over and over (and over) again. It's putting each other, and the family you created, above anything else. Above everything else.

It's choosing each other Every. Single. Day—when it's beautiful and inspiring, when it's hard and tiring, when it's fun and adventurous, when it's mundane and monotonous.

It's choosing each other through the highs, through the lows, and through every little bit in between—every single minute, every single second, of every single day.



From the Shop
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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Sorry, you can’t meet our baby yet

Thank you for understanding. ❤️

In just over three weeks, we will become parents. From then on, our hearts will live outside of our bodies. We will finally understand what everyone tells you about bringing a child into the world.

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Our bags are mostly packed, diaper bag ready, and birth plan in place. Now it's essentially a waiting game. We're finishing up our online childbirth classes which I must say are quite informational and sometimes entertaining. But in between the waiting and the classes, we've had to think about how we're going to handle life after baby's birth.

I don't mean thinking and planning about the lack of sleep, feeding schedule, or just the overall changes a new baby is going to bring. I'm talking about how we're going to handle excited family members and friends who've waited just as long as we have to meet our child. That sentence sounds so bizarre, right? How we're going to handle family and friends? That sentence shouldn't even have to exist.

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You'll obsess over these newborn baby pictures.

Bethany Menzel: Instagram + Blog

As you're preparing for baby's birth, we bet you're dreaming of all of the amazing photos you'll take of your precious new babe. As a professional photographer and mama, I have some tips for newborn photos you'll want to capture.

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