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To my love, there’s no one else I rather be quarantined with

For better or worse, and also a global pandemic.

Couple hiding under the covers

To my love,

When we said, "for better or worse" that day, there were many scenarios I suppose we could have imagined. And there have been many predictable highs we've celebrated and lows we've overcome during the course of our marriage.

Our "better" moments included becoming parents, taking adventures together, buying our first house, Netflix on the couch and laughing until our sides hurt. Our "worse" moments involved sleepless nights and confusion of new parenthood, navigating the unknown and arguing over whose turn it is to take out the trash.

If we'd had a window into the future on the day we said those vows, these would all have been things we'd have expected to see. What we could not have foreseen was a global pandemic.

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We could not have predicted the year the whole world would shut down. We could not have imagined the "better or worse" that this year would bring—fear for our health and the health of our family, canceled plans and not being able to hug parents and grandparents. Never (ever) having a moment alone, and feeling frayed at the edges as we juggled homeschooling, frustrated children, full-time jobs, and everything in between.

The "better" has looked like eating dinner as a family on a weeknight for the first time ever. Our mid-morning walks in the forest to burn off our kids' energy. The quiet, unprecedented silence in the streets as the world withdrew to wait out quarantine.

No, 2020 was not what we imagined that day we said "I do."


But now, my love, as we start to emerge on the other side of quarantine (did we even use that word before this very strange year?), and we face each other, exhausted, across the kitchen table (the homeschooling books piled high between us), there's a whole new list of "better and worse" in the rearview mirror—a whole new experience we've walked through together.

There are some things about this year I'd like to forget, and some I hope I never do.

I'll remember that sometimes you're right for being the paranoid one. Like when you were bulk buying toilet paper back in February while I still naively thought the virus wouldn't come to us.

I'll remember how during quarantine you always did the weekly shopping, venturing out into a world that was quiet and eerie and unwelcoming, donning your face mask like a superhero and returning home victorious with bags full of fresh veggies and healthy snacks (and wine).

I'll remember you gently (and sometimes not-so-gently) shush-ing our girls when I was on conference calls,making sure they knew my job is just as important as yours is.

I'll remember you sharing the load (and loads of laundry), and having the foresight to buy that new barbecue just before lock-down.

I'll remember you being strong and positive when, elbow deep in snack preparation and coronavirus fatigue, I couldn't muster the energy to do it for myself.

I'll remember you letting me do the same for you on your darker days.

On the good days, our marriage is characterized by the gentle push and pull between us of one being strong for the other, like passing the baton or lobbing a tennis ball over a net. On the best days, we're like Forrest Gump and Bubba in Vietnam: "I'm gonna lean up against you, you just lean right back against me. This way, we don't have to sleep with our heads in the mud."

They told us when we were young that life would throw the unexpected our way. I never quite believed it until 2020, but I'm proud of how we've handled it. I'm glad you were standing next to me when it happened, and I know that one day we will tell our daughters and their children about the year the world stopped and we lived in our little bubble together.

We will tell them that there was the better and there was the worse and that we came out stronger on the other side.

Above all, we will tell them that life spent together with family brings much, much more of the "better" than the "worse."

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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Every week, we stock the Motherly Shop with innovative and fresh products from brands we feel good about. We want to be certain you don't miss anything, so to keep you in the loop, we're providing a cheat sheet.

So, what's new this week?

Meri Meri: Decor and gifts that bring the wonder of childhood to life

We could not be more excited to bring the magic of Meri Meri to the Motherly Shop. For over 30 years, their playful line of party products, decorations, children's toys and stationery have brought magic to celebrations and spaces all over the world. Staring as a kitchen table endeavor with some scissors, pens and glitter in Los Angeles in 1985, Meri Meri (founder Meredithe Stuart-Smith's childhood nickname) has evolved from a little network of mamas working from home to a team of 200 dreaming up beautiful, well-crafted products that make any day feel special.

We've stocked The Motherly Shop with everything from Halloween must-haves to instant-heirloom gifts kiddos will adore. Whether you're throwing a party or just trying to make the everyday feel a little more special, we've got you covered.

Not sure where to start? Here's what we're adding to our cart:

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