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Daddy,

I wanted to stop and tell you—because sometimes my busy mind can't put it into words—that you. are. awesome.

You're the best dad in the world, and I am beyond lucky you're mine.

So…thank you.


Thank you for never hesitating to roar like a lion, crawl like a puppy or jump around like a monkey.

Thank you for your giant bear hugs and belly laughs. They always make me laugh, too.

Thank you for occasionally turning a blind eye to my very large, out-of-the-tub bath splashing.

Thank you for always attempting to out-silly me in funny face competitions. You are really good at them.

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Thank you for dancing your heart out to Beyonce and singing along (quite passionately, if I may add) to the Tangled soundtrack. (I think you really enjoy this stuff. And that makes me the happiest.)

Thank you for getting *just* as excited as I do to watch Big Hero 6.

Thank you for always cuddling with me when I'm scared at night—no matter how early you have to get up for work.

Thank you for teaching me how to take care of our garden—that we can grow and eat some of our own food, and that we should be proud of that.

Thank you for taking me on adventures. Going on hikes with you are moments I'll carry with me forever. I really appreciate you stopping to point out all the chipmunks or to listen to the birdies.

Thank you for cooking me dinner, especially macaroni and meatballs, and sitting with me to eat it.

Thank you for putting me on your shoulders and giving me piggy back rides. I know it can probably hurt sometimes, or at least make you tired—so I appreciate the dedication. Being three can be exhausting, to be honest.

Thank you for doing my hair (low ponytails rule!) and showing me how to properly brush my teeth and my tongue.

Thank you for teaching me how to pray and how to take care of my little sister. I yell at her sometimes when I'm mad, but you always help me to see that using my (calm) words is probably a safer bet. (She doesn't respond well to my loud voice, surprisingly.)

Thank you for telling me exciting stories and reading to me and encouraging me to be passionate about learning new things. I'm curious, just like you.

Thank you for encouraging me to try new things. Who knew I'd love sports class so much or how fabulous I would be at somersaults? You! That's who!

Thank you for loving Mommy the way you do. She lights up when she sees you. I watch you guys laugh with each other and sneak kisses. It makes me feel safe and loved.

Thank you for letting me wear your glasses to pretend I'm you. It's funny...we both know it.

Thank you for letting me steal your phone and run around like a wild maniac when we're FaceTiming Grandma and Grandpa. It's really pretty hilarious to me.

Thank you for throwing me really, really, really high in the air. You make me feel like I can fly. I hope I always feel like that inside.

Thank you for working hard for me. I know you want the best for me. And I already feel like I have the best. Because I have our family.

Thank you for really looking at me. For seeing me. For listening to me.

Thank you for wanting to be there for me. To get to know me. To help me grow.

Thank you for being patient with me. I know I can be frustrating at times. But it's because I'm trying to learn about life and learn how to navigate these big feelings I have.

I'm always trying to make you laugh and smile. To make you happy and proud.

Dad, you make me feel like I can do anything and be anything I want to be. Like I'm the strongest kid in the world. Like I'm braver than any superhero out there. Like I'm a genius.

And I am.

Strong. Brave. And intelligent.

Because you and Mommy believe in me.

Because I'm watching you, Dad.

You're showing me every single day how to be this person. You walk the walk.

And I'll always be right here with you, holding your hand every step of the way.

I love you.

Love,

Your baby


Baby's first birthday is right around the corner—how did that happen? It's understandable if you are feeling all the emotions right now. This is a major milestone for both of you, so while you're planning a celebration for your little one, you should also take this moment to applaud your accomplishments during this past year.

One year ago, you were probably daydreaming about these moments… and possibly slightly nervous about how you would manage. Look at you now, mama! But take a deep breath, because life is about to get even more exciting as your sweet little baby enters toddlerhood!

Here are a few of our favorite items for babies and mamas at the 11-month mark:

To cheer on first steps: Bright Starts rolling monkey

Bright Starts

It takes a lot of strength to get those little legs walking for the first time! Keep your baby encouraged as they gain stability with a new toy to chase down.

$12.89

For mess-free snacking: Munchkin snack catcher

Munchkin Snack Catcher

As your baby begins to work on supervised self-feeding, you'll start to find crumbs everywhere. That's why training snack cups are so brilliant: They prevent them from dumping all those snacks at once.

$4.95

For the first cake-cutting: Creative Converting first birthday party hat

birthday hat

Get your camera ready for that first birthday! Sure, the party hat may only stay on your toddler's head for a few minutes, but the pictures will be around to cherish for a lifetime.

$9.79

For those fine motor skills: Lamaze sorting toy

Lamaze toy

The fine motor development your baby is working on today will help with everything from playing instruments to writing with pencils and so much more later in life. Believe it or not, a simple sorting toy will help boost these foundational skills.

$9.99

For breastfeeding support: Honest Mama nip balm

Honest nip balm

If you are on a breastfeeding journey with your growing babe, you two probably are in a pretty good rhythm—but your tatas still deserve some TLC.

$14.99

For simple beauty touch-ups: Honest Beauty magic balm

Honest Beauty

It can still feel hard to find a spare moment for yourself throughout the day, but it also feels good to keep up with a beauty routine that is heavy on the self-care element. Enter: An incredible multi-purpose balm that can hydrate your lips, soothe cracked skin, tame flyaways and more.

$12.99

For whatever life throws at you: All In Motion anorak jacket

All in Motion

Motherhood is all about multitasking, and your clothing should be able to take you from one activity to the next. Thankfully, the amazingly stylish activewear on the market right now means you can feel good about a wardrobe stable that is able to multitask, too.

$40

For baby’s first cake: KitchenAid hand mixer

Kitchen Aid

If you've been pinning ideas for that first birthday cake since you gave birth, make those dreams a reality with an upgraded mixer you can use throughout the years. Not much of a baker? Visit Target Bakery for a free smash cake with the purchase of a specialty cake!

$49.99

For chasing that active baby: C9 Champion women’s knit sneakers

Champion Sneakers

You might be surprised by how quickly your toddling baby turns into a running baby. So lace up those shoes, mama!

$34.99

For your favorite photos: Project 62 wire clip collage

Project 62

How many pictures have you taken in the past year? We're betting it's a pretty high number, and at least a few of those deserve to be displayed in your home. Make it easy to swap them out with a frame that allows you to display multiple pictures at once.

$20

This article was sponsored by Target. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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How often do we see a "misbehaving" child and think to ourselves, that kid needs more discipline? How often do we look at our own misbehaving child and think the same thing?

Our society is conditioned to believe that we have to be strict and stern with our kids, or threaten, shame or punish them into behaving. This authoritarian style of parenting is characterized by high expectations and low responsiveness—a tough love approach.

But while this type of authoritarian parenting may elicit "obedient" kids in the short-term, studies suggest that children who are shamed or punished in the name of discipline face challenges in the long-term. Research suggests that children who are harshly disciplined or shamed tend to be less happy, less independent, less confident, less resilient, more aggressive and hostile, more fearful and at higher risk for substance abuse and mental health issues as adults and adolescents.

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The reason? No one ever changes from being shamed.

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