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Watching you be a dad is more amazing than I ever thought it would be

Dear husband,

There's not much out there that fulfills me more than watching our tiny humans develop and grow into themselves. I love being their mom. But to watch you be the best dad in the world; helping to guide them and shape them into the adults they will one day become? That's the sweet cherry on top of it all, my love.

My transformation to 'mother' has cracked my heart open and then pulled every ounce of vulnerability that I have out of it; every bit of love, every bit of passion. It has helped me become a better, happier, more tired version of the woman you married.

But as beautifully life-affirming as it has been for me to assume the role of 'mom'—to take on all that that word means: the magic, the exhaustion, the fun, the frustrations—it has been equally life-affirming to see you assume the role of 'father' to our children so naturally, so happily.

While there are certainly many challenging aspects of being someone's parent, you seem to find joy anywhere you can in fatherhood; honor in being our children's role models; pride in raising a family with me.

And I'm lucky to be alongside you on this journey—for so many reasons.

I love seeing you play together.

You do the things my heart is too fragile for, my nerves too fried. You flip them upside down, throw them (so!) high in the air, and put them on your shoulders so they can feel like they're on top of the world.

You are the best dance party host, hands down. I haven't seen some of the moves you often bust out when "Can't Stop the Feeling" comes on since college, but I'll tell you what—I'm glad they're back.

I love hearing you teach them about things.

You know many interesting facts that I don't have space in my brain for because it's too full of an eclectic (and dare I say useless) combination of every single pop/rap/r&b song produced in the '90s-'00s. (The majority of which I cannot teach our children.)

You teach them things like what the difference is between a lake and a pond or which dinosaur is which. You tell them all about the history of the Celtics and why the sun sets when it does. You look at the stars with them through the telescope you bought and talk about the planets in outer space. You have the thoughtful answers to all their why's.

I love watching you watch them with wonder.

Like when our oldest had her first dance recital and she bravely went on stage without fear—I watched you watch her in awe. Or the times when I notice that twinkle in your eyes as they tell you a story. You'll nod and say "mmhmm" and they'll use their hands enthusiastically, chatting away—both parties totally engrossed in each other.

Or how you'll laugh when they dig up a worm in the garden you built together or touch the fish you guys caught without giving it a second thought. The smile they put on your face is worth it all.

I love eavesdropping when you talk with them.

I can always count on a "So, how was your day, Dad?" to put a smile on my face around 6:30 pm every night. I know I'll hear something like, "What kind of dance do you think a cha-cha is?" when you're reading about Gerald in Giraffes Can't Dance.

Listening to who you all choose to pray for when you're getting them ready for bed or hearing you encourage them with a simple, "You are so brave! Look at you go!" fills me with more happiness than I could ever accurately explain.

I suspect I'll feel the same way when you're walking one of them down the aisle.

Or as I watch you watch them, beaming with pride as we snap pictures at graduation.

Or when you're holding their child for the first time, with tears in your eyes, no doubt.

I'm so happy watching you be happy.

I'm so happy you're my partner.

I'm so happy you step up to the plate time and time again. Day after day.

I'm so happy you love being a dad.

You're no longer just the man I fell in love with all those years ago. You are no longer just my husband. You are now, also, the father of my children. I'm so proud of you, and I'm proud of what we're building together every day.

And I suspect I'll feel that way for the rest of my life.

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Summer heat has a way of making the house feel smaller, more congested, with less room for the air to circulate. And there's nothing like heat to make me want to strip down, cool off and lighten my load. So, motivation in three digits, now that school is back in, it's time to do a purge.

Forget the spring clean—who has time for that? Those last few months of the school year are busier than the first. And summer's warm weather entices our family outdoors on the weekends which doesn't leave much time for re-organizing.

So, I seize the opportunity when my kids are back in school to enter my zone.

I love throwing open every closet and cupboard door, pulling out anything and everything that doesn't fit our bodies or our lives. Each joyless item purged peels off another oppressive layer of "not me" or "not us."

Stuff can obscure what really makes us feel light, capable and competent. Stuff can stem the flow of what makes our lives work.

With my kids back in school, I am energized, motivated by the thought that I have the space to be in my head with no interruptions. No refereeing. No snacks. No naps… I am tossing. I am folding. I am stacking. I am organizing. I don't worry about having to stop. The neat-freak in me is having a field day.

Passing bedroom doors, ajar and flashing their naughty bits of chaos at me, is more than I can handle in terms of temptation. I have to be careful, though, because I can get on a roll. Taking to my kids' rooms I tread carefully, always aware that what I think is junk can actually be their treasure.

But I usually have a good sense for what has been abandoned or invisible in plain sight for the lack of movement or the accumulation of dust. Anything that fits the description gets relegated to a box in the garage where it is on standby in case its absence is noticed and a meltdown has ensued so the crisis can be averted. Either way, it's a victory.

Oh, it's quiet. So, so quiet. And I can think it through…

Do we really need all this stuff?

Will my son really notice if I toss all this stuff?

Will my daughter be heartbroken if I donate all this stuff?

Will I really miss this dress I wore three years ago that barely fit my waist then and had me holding in my tummy all night, and that I for sure cannot zip today?

Can we live without it all? All. This. Stuff?

For me, the fall purge always gets me wondering, where in the world does all this stuff come from? So with the beginning of the school year upon us, I vow to create a new mindset to evaluate everything that enters my home from now on, so there will be so much less stuff.

I vow to really think about objects before they enter my home…

…to evaluate what is really useful,

...to consider when it would be useful,

...to imagine where it would be useful,

...to remember why it may be useful,

…to decide how to use it in more than one way,

... so that all this stuff won't get in the way of what really matters—time and attention for my kids and our lives as a new year reveals more layers of the real stuff—what my kids are made of.

Bring it on.

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In the moments after we give birth, we desperately want to hear our baby cry. In the middle of the night a few months later it's no longer exactly music to our ears, but those cries aren't just telling us that baby needs a night feeding: They're also giving us a hint at what our children may sound like as kindergarteners, and adults.

New research published in the journal Biology Letters suggests the pitch of a 4-month-old's cry predicts the pitch they'll use to ask for more cookies at age five and maybe even later on as adults.

The study saw 2 to 5-month olds recorded while crying. Five years later, the researchers hit record again and chatted with the now speaking children. Their findings, combined with previous work on the subject, suggest it's possible to figure out what a baby's voice will sound like later in life, and that the pitch of our adult voices may be traceable back to the time we spend in utero. Further studies are needed, but scientists are very interested in how factors before birth can impact decades later.

"In utero, you have a lot of different things that can alter and impact your life — not only as a baby, but also at an adult stage," one of the authors of the study, Nicolas Mathevon, told the New York Times.

The New York Times also spoke with Carolyn Hodges, an assistant professor of anthropology at Boston University who was not involved in the study. According to Hodges, while voice pitch may not seem like a big deal, it impacts how we perceive people in very real ways.

Voice pitch is a factor in how attractive we think people are, how trustworthy. But why we find certain pitches more or less appealing isn't known. "There aren't many studies that address these questions, so that makes this research especially intriguing," Hodges said, adding that it "suggests that individual differences in voice pitch may have their origins very, very early in development."

So the pitch of that midnight cry may have been determined months ago, and it may determine part of your child's future, too. There are still so many things we don't know, but as parents we do know one thing: Our babies cries (as much as we don't want to hear them all the time) really are something special.

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For many years, Serena Williams seemed as perfect as a person could be. But now, Serena is a mom. She's imperfect and she's being honest about that and we're so grateful.

On the cover of TIME, Williams owns her imperfection, and in doing so, she gives mothers around the world permission to be as real as she is being.

"Nothing about me right now is perfect," she told TIME. "But I'm perfectly Serena."

The interview sheds light on Williams' recovery from her traumatic birth experience, and how her mental health has been impacted by the challenges she's faced in going from a medical emergency to new motherhood and back to the tennis court all within one year.

"Some days, I cry. I'm really sad. I've had meltdowns. It's been a really tough 11 months," she said.

It would have been easy for Williams to keep her struggles to herself over the last year. She didn't have to tell the world about her life-threatening birth experience, her decision to stop breastfeeding, her maternal mental health, how she missed her daughter's first steps, or any of it. But she did share these experiences, and in doing so she started incredibly powerful conversations on a national stage.

After Serena lost at Wimbledon this summer, she told the mothers watching around the world that she was playing for them. "And I tried," she said through tears. "I look forward to continuing to be back out here and doing what I do best."

In the TIME cover story, what happened before that match, where Williams lost to Angelique Kerber was revealed. TIME reports that Williams checked her phone about 10 minutes before the match, and learned, via Instagram, that the man convicted of fatally shooting her sister Yetunde Price, in 2003 is out on parole.

"I couldn't shake it out of my mind," Serena says. "It was hard because all I think about is her kids," she says. She was playing for all the mothers out there, but she had a specific mother on her mind during that historic match.

Williams' performance at Wimbledon wasn't perfect, and neither is she, as she clearly states on the cover of time. But motherhood isn't perfect either. It's okay to admit that. Thanks, Serena, for showing us how.

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There are some mornings where I wake up and I'm ready for the day. My alarm goes off and I pop out of bed and hum along as I make breakfast before my son wakes up. But then there are days where I just want 10 more minutes to sleep in. Or breakfast feels impossible to make because all our time has run out. Or I just feel overwhelmed and unprepared.

Those are the mornings I stare at the fridge and think, Can someone else just make breakfast, please?

Enter: make-ahead breakfasts. We spoke to the geniuses at Pinterest and they shared their top 10 pins all around this beautiful, planned-ahead treat. Here they are.

(You're welcome, future self.)

1. Make-ahead breakfast enchiladas


Created by Bellyful

I'd make these for dinner, too.

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