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The secret to a strong marriage? Someone who makes you laugh

Marriage and love and parenting and living together and life in general isn't always easy.

The secret to a strong marriage? Someone who makes you laugh

My husband and I are both passionate yet sensitive people. So it's been interesting navigating topics that pop up we don't agree on, or parenting decisions we don't see eye-to-eye on through the course of our relationship.

We have definitely realized that it can be hard.

I mean, raising three children—four and under—is just hard in general. It's complicated and exhausting and tricky and requires a decent amount of patience that we sometimes have, sometimes don't. It depends on the day and how much caffeine is pumping through our veins.

But it's not 'hard' like not worth it 'hard.' Like give up 'hard.' Just 'hard' like dang! We need to work on this. We need to continue to put the work in to make each and every day a success. We love our family and we love each other and it's worth it to do that work.

One day recently when we were...let's call it, “passionately discussing" how we should talk to our children when they do something wrong, my husband threw out one of our favorite inside jokes from when we binged watched How I Met Your Mother when we were newlyweds. It's a solid joke that—no matter how mad we are when we throw it out—if it's timed right, it kills.

“That would be a major pain to do it that way," I said.

Pause.

My husband salutes and at the same time repeats, “Major Pain."

See—the joke takes what someone says and turns it into a military ranking. (It's a thing, seriously. And it's really only funny if you've watched the show. ?)

It somehow instantly brings me back to that time when we sat in our bed together for hours, pre-children, and we watched and watched and watched HIMYM to our heart's content. No requests for water or to watch Curious George instead. No crying or diaper changes. Just us and our friends Robin, Ted, Barney, Lily and Marshall.

That day, and many days since, I've realized how much laughter is a true blessing in our marriage. Whether we're funny to other people or not, we really are funny to each other. And that does a marriage good, if you ask me.

I'm glad I married the man who can make me belly laugh over the most ridiculous things. And vice versa. (Usually me more because I'm funnier, but don't tell him that…)

I'm glad we can turn to laughter when tensions are running high. Cracking a funny joke can break the ice and get us back in each other's good graces 99% of the time. (And it's actually a lot easier than staying mad at each other.)

I'm glad we can turn to laughter when we've messed up and want to apologize but don't want it to be super serious—we want to say sorry and just see their smile again and not make a huge deal over it. (So, just to reiterate, the formula is apologize quick + crack joke immediately = move on. Works pretty well.)

I'm glad we can turn to laughter in the middle of a fight. We've literally started cracking up during some arguments and then we're basically too tired to go back to the fight so we just get over it.

I'm glad we can turn to laughter in the middle of a seemingly impossible parenting situation—like a code brown or a 3 a.m. puke fest—and find some sort of humor in the situation. It honestly makes me feel like we're really playing as a team. That we're really in this together. Because if you can't laugh together while covered in someone else's vomit, when CAN you laugh? Amirite?

I'm glad we can turn to laughter when we're trying to...have some time to ourselves (?), but one child starts crying, so we go to them and help them and calm them. Then, we get back to...what we were doing, but then another child cries...so we go help them and calm them. Then, we try to get back to it but laugh because—sure, that seemed fun an hour ago, but we're really tired and have to be up in five hours and no, we're going to go to sleep instead. Rain check!

I'm glad we can turn to laughter when we're so tired we accidentally throw our phone out in the garbage or take the wrong train line home and end up in a totally different town than the one we live in. Sure they were kind of inconvenient situations, but they were also pretty hilarious, so...worth the laugh.

I'm glad we can turn to laughter when there's lot of whining going on. Whining is not fun and you need something to counter balance all the whining in order to stay sane. Like a “stop the whining" song to the tune of DJ Khaled's “All I Do Is Win" that you made up and sends everyone into fits of laughter (okay, okay, just me and my husband) right away. But, actually, it doesn't really work for the whiner...the whiner typically keeps whining.

(Guys, really—sing it, it's fun. “All I do is whine, whine, whine no matter what...got Bubble Guppies on my mind, I can never get enough. And every time I step up from my crib my demands go up! And they stay there…")

Marriage and love and parenting and living together and life in general isn't always easy. So, we laugh. We lighten things up. We try not to take ourselves too seriously.

Because as the writer Rose Franken once said, “Anyone can be passionate, but it takes real lovers to be silly."

So, it's important be with someone who will be silly with you. Who will make you laugh.

Be with someone who's not afraid to pretend to be the royal princess at your daughter's tea party.

Be with someone who will think the accidental-baby-poop-explosion-on-the-couch situation—while very, very unfortunate—is also pretty funny. (And fixable, thank goodness.)

Be with someone who will laugh at themselves when they've realized they somehow got their 2-year-old in their babies' 6 month onesie. (It did look a little tight…)

Be with someone who will sit with you at the end of a long day and laugh at the wild and crazy events that went on because only you two really get it and that is a pretty special feeling.

The Motherly Shop is here 🎉 (and it has exactly what you need, mama)

We did the hard work for you, hand-picking the things you want and need and ensuring we only bring you the best—so you can take one thing off that full plate of yours.

Since the beginning, Motherly has existed to help mamas of all experiences feel seen, understood and supported. Through expert and mom-to-mom advice and information we've been here to help you along the motherhood journey.

With that same ethos, we've created The Motherly Shop—an online collection of products curated for every stage of motherhood. We did the hard work for you, hand-picking the things you want and need and ensuring we only bring you the best from brands and makers that really care—so you can take one thing off that full plate of yours.

To make browsing a little easier, we curate the products based on mama needs + pain points. For example, here's our newest collection created to gather everything a pregnant woman needs.

Check out some of our favorites from our Becoming Mama collection and get shopping!

The sleep support

Belly Bandit SOS pillow

Finding the right position for sleep can feel like an Olympic sport when you've got a baby belly to accommodate. Belly Bandit, masters of creating wearables that support pregnant bodies, also managed to create the ideal tool for side sleeping.

$80

The wear-anywhere maternity dress

Stowaway Collection Maternity Becca dress

Finding clothes that still make you feel like yourself isn't always easy. With their premium fabrics and universally flattering cuts, we can't get enough of the maternity wardrobe essentials from Stowaway Collection maternity. Even better? They sew everything in Long Island City, NY and source USA-made fabric whenever possible.

$80

The chic but practical shoe 

OSAY the label slip on

Bending over to put shoes on is so overrated. We've got you covered with the most stylish and obsession-worthy handmade loafers with a secret. Just fold down the back, and BAM! slip-ons. Additionally, the La Babouche Loafer + Slip-On OSAY the Label beauties are made from recycled leather that literally forms to your feet.

$135

The delicate reminder

Whether it's whispered sweetly, shrieked from the top of the big slide, or echoed through the phone from thousands of miles away, 'mama' is the name you'll respond to for the rest of your life. Like all the Tiny Tags necklaces, this sweet reminder is laser engraved by highly skilled artisans in the USA.

$105

The stylish diaper bag that doesn't look like a diaper bag

Mina baie vegan stevie

When leaving the house requires as much prep as an international flight (ah, remember those?) having a spacious bag you can depend on is key. Mina Baie bags not only deliver on a space for everything, but also manage to do it in style. They're the kind of bags you'll carry even when you manage to leave your little one behind.

$178

The elegant baby book

Echo Art Bindery Baby Memory Book

From the minute they're born there are so many milestones and memories to capture. We hand-picked the gorgeous clothbound baby memory book from Echo Art Bindery for its small batch-feel and attention to detail. Made from high-quality paper it features colorful custom illustrations, a silver-stamped endive cover, and questions and prompts to help you remember those magical first days and beyond.

$62

The empowering accessory

Sontakey 'I was made for this' bracelet

Words are powerful. Reminding yourself that you can do hard things can go a long way in giving you the energy and confidence to do so. The beautiful mantra bands from Sontakey were created by two mamas who have made it their mission to empower others with these words of encouragement.

$35

The most delicious way to celebrate

Tost non-alcoholic refresher

Time to raise a glass, mama! We've long since had a crush on TÖST's non-alcoholic sparkles. The gingery cranberry tea blend is delicious on its own or even as a mixer. From baby showers to toasting an ordinary Tuesday that went off without a hitch, we think you'll be crushing on it too.

$50

The pampering belly oil

Esker belly oil duo

Moisturizing, soothing, and totally divine, Esker's belly oil duo is formulated with only the cleanest botanical essential oils. One for morning and one for nighttime, they're ideal for pampering that beautiful belly of yours around the clock.

$75

The hydration-friendly water bottle

Welly traveler water bottle

Meeting those daily hydration needs can be a challenge. (So can making it to the bathroom 700 hundred times a day, right?) We're big fans of Welly reusable bottles which not only look super sleek with their stainless steel and bamboo combo, but also include a removable infuser to brew tea or flavor your water.

$30

The pre-packed hospital bag

Belly and Bag fully prepared

Leave packing your hospital bag to the pros. After all, you have plenty of other things to think about right now, right? The brilliant women at Belly and Bag have truly thought of everything and packed it up just for you.

$225

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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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

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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The new top 100 American baby names, according to the Social Security office

Did you have a baby in 2018? Did your name make the top 10?

kasietannerphotography.com

[Editor's note: We know that being pregnant can be, well, a lot. And understanding what you really need versus what's just a nice-to-have takes time . With your needs in mind, we've selected the best products for pregnancy in The Motherly Shop. We've got you, mama.]

No one can beat Emma when it comes to naming babies in America. This week the Social Security Administration announced its annual list of the most popular baby names in America and Emma has the top spot on the girls' side for the fifth year in a row. On the boys' side Liam took the top spot for a second consecutive year.

According to the Social Security Administration, these were the top 20 baby names in America in 2018:

Girls: Emma, Olivia, Ava, Isabella, Sophia, Charlotte, Mia, Amelia, Harper and Evelyn

Boys: Liam, Noah, William, James, Oliver, Benjamin, Elijah, Lucas, Mason and Owen

How do those top 10 lists compare to the top baby names of 2017? Well, the girls' list is nearly the same except that Mia and Charlotte switched spots, and Harper (a name that fell out of the top ten the previous year) is back and has ousted Abigail. On the boys' side, Lucas kicked Jacob out of the top 10.

The real changes happened lower down in the data. Let's take a look at the popular baby names that were trending hard in 2018:

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