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The day I stopped hiding my postpartum body from my husband

My body is recovering from the 60 pounds I gained during my pregnancy. Where I was once tight and toned, I now have saggy areas, stretch marks and a stomach pouch. Sometimes it's hard to recognize myself in the mirror.

The day I stopped hiding my postpartum body from my husband

Confession: I've been hiding my stomach from my husband.

Since I've had our second child in as many years, I frequently wear loose tops, and have been known to wear my fluffy robe around the house more often than not. When my husband greets me in the bathroom post-shower, I quickly wrap a robe around myself. And the lights at sexy time? Well, I'm working the dim setting pretty hard.

But hiding a part of myself from him—the part that helped grow the babies we made together—has started to feel like a secret I no longer wanted to hide.

And recently, a few words from him, this man I love, helped transform me from hiding woman to proud mama.

So here's the undeniable truth: I'm two and a half months out from birthing baby number two. My body is recovering from the 60 pounds I gained during my pregnancy. Where I was once tight and toned, I now have saggy areas, stretch marks and a stomach pouch. Sometimes it's hard to recognize myself in the mirror.

But life goes on and so must I.

Plus, my sister is getting married in a few weeks, and even though I'm not emotionally ready yet to buy a swimsuit for her destination wedding, Vegas awaits. So off to shop for swimsuits I went.

“Do you think this is okay?" I asked, holding up a suit to show a friend. “It has full coverage in the back, and these ruffles will hide my stomach."

(Full coverage? Ruffles to hide things? When did this happen to me?)

I decided to try the one piece on when I got home, and of course right when I slipped it on I heard his keys jingle in the door. I had to make a quick decision. Run into our bedroom to change, or keep the bathing suit on to show him? Realizing that I wouldn't be able to run and change in the 10 seconds it would take him to get inside anyway, I realized: I was caught.

And there I was, one cold winter's day in New England, in my postpartum one-piece glory.

“Wow!" He said grinning as he walked in. “You look absolutely gorgeous. New suit? You look great."

I felt so relieved. And encouraged. As I looked at him, I noticed the look on his face—he looked so in love. With me. In my old-lady suit. With the ruffles and the full booty coverage.

And instead of fear, or shame, or wistfulness for the way I used to be, instead I just melted.

There I was, far from the 5-foot-11, 135-pound college girl he fell in love with, awkwardly standing in front of him, unsure of myself. And there he was, looking at me like I was Queen of the World.

That was the moment that transformed me.

My husband sees changes in me—changes that I sometimes struggle to fully see and accept.

My body is definitely different now than it was then. I am different. And we are so different, too. We are a family.

The beautiful thing about being with the one you love is promising to do it forever. And getting to see a kinder, lovelier version of myself than I might allow—through the eyes of this husband of mine.

We started this thing when we were barely out of college and didn't have a clue. Nearly a decade later, we're parents with master's degrees who have each made a career change. We own a home and deal with the nitty-gritty of making our finances work. We worry about real-life problems, not just where we're going drinking Friday night. We're growing up together. We have some life experience under our belts. And yes, we have some extra skin under our belts, too. (Well, I do.)

So now I'm owning the changes.

My breasts have been nursing for two years. My arms have been busy lifting car seats, my back giving pony rides. My face has been crinkling with laughter and proud smiles. I have been wringing my hands with worry. I sleep less, spending late hours writing at my computer and early mornings nursing our new baby.

But I have so much love in my heart. My life feels full. Full of happiness and contentment and craziness and poopy diapers. And potty training and tantrums and spit-up.

My hips are full too. Oh yes, and my waistline. These things will change; such is the ebb and flow of gaining and losing weight.

But our love won't change because of these things. Because we are more than superficial changes at this point in our lives.

So to my ruffled, full-coverage swimsuit, I say thank you.

Thank you for giving me this moment of clarity. For reminding me that my marriage is more than the number on the scale, and our mutual attraction is more important than how we looked at 22.

Our love is big.

Bigger-than-my-stretch-marks big.


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

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

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.

$189

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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Why do all of my good parenting or baby-focused inventions come after they've already been invented by someone else? Sigh.

Like the Puj hug hooded baby towel, aka the handiest, softest cotton towel ever created.

Safely removing a wet, slippery baby from the bath can be totally nerve-wracking, and trying to hold onto a towel at the same time without soaking it in the process seems to require an extra arm altogether. It's no wonder so much water ends up on the floor, the countertops, or you(!) after bathing your little one. Their splashing and kicking in the water is beyond adorable, of course, but the clean up after? Not as much.

It sounds simple: Wash your child, sing them a song or two, let them play with some toys, then take them out, place a towel around them, and dry them off. Should be easy, peasy, lemon squeezy, right?

But it hasn't been. It's been more—as one of my favorite memes says—difficult, difficult, lemon difficult. Because until this towel hit the bathtime scene, there was no easy-peasy way to pick up your squirming wet baby without drenching yourself and/or everything around you.

Plus, there is nothing cuter than a baby in a plush hooded towel, right? Well, except when it's paired with a dry, mess-free floor, maybe.

Check out our favorites to make bathtime so much easier:

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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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