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I learned what kind of mother I am during the false nuclear alert in Hawaii

“The one thing we all had in common was that we grabbed our children and held them with all our might.”

I learned what kind of mother I am during the false nuclear alert in Hawaii

What do you tell your child when you’re pretty sure you’re about to die with her? How do you comfort your child when you’re terrified yourself?


Last Saturday morning, a ballistic missile alert was sent to Hawai’i residents like me. Thankfully, it turned out to be a false alarm, but during the 38 minutes before the state sent out an all-clear alert, we thought we were under attack.

At the time, I was home alone with my 9-year-old daughter, Abigail. I knew in the back of my mind that if we did have a nuke headed towards us, odds were we wouldn’t survive it, but inaction wasn’t a possibility. My body wanted to move.

I also knew that due to my medical disability, Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, that I wouldn’t be able to get very far if I decided to evacuate. I use a cane which only leaves one free hand, and I couldn’t figure out how I could gather my daughter, my service dog and supplies—so my body made the decision that we would shelter in place. I woke up my daughter, found our dog, and then we hid in the bathroom and waited for the end.

As I recounted about the thoughts racing through my mind in an essay for the Washington Post:

I spread the quilt out on the floor, hand Abby a pillow, and calmly ask her if they talked about duck and cover in school. I realize that I don’t know much about duck and cover because I’m only 36 years old and I grew up in a world without nuclear threats. I fake the confidence and teach my fourth-grader how to pull her knees up to her chest, lean her head down into them and cover her neck with her arms.

I’ve received messages from parents from all over the world in the days since my essay was published. Mothers especially wrote that my family had experienced their greatest fear.

Some people called me naïve for even bothering to shelter in place, arguing that there was no point. Some people called me a horrible mother for not being prepared for a nuclear disaster. (Never mind the fact that there’s not a lot a person can do if they’re hit by a nuclear warhead.)

My friends on Oahu shared their stories as we decompressed in the days following, and there were differences in how we reacted: Some parents had their kids hide in storm drains and sewers, some gathered their families together and prayed, others did what we did and filled their bathtub with water and waited.

But the one thing we all had in common was that we grabbed our children and held them with all our might.

Even after the all-clear, it took some time before I could bear to let go of my daughter; when I did, her first question was whether her friend’s birthday party was still on for that afternoon.

Later that afternoon, I watched as the little partygoers ran themselves ragged, jumped in the bouncy-house for hours, laughed and tackled each other with joy. I couldn’t tell if they were discharging major amounts of stress, or if the whole terrifying experience just didn’t touch them in the same way it affected their parents.

Nearly a week later, I’m fairly convinced it’s the latter. Abigail has had no nightmares, and when I ask her if she has any questions or wants to discuss what happened, she says she’s fine. And I believe her.

I believe that she asked the questions she needed to ask when she was scared, and that the answers I was able to string together satisfied her, and that’s the best possible outcome we could have had.

Now that the adrenaline rushes and the relief have both dissipated, what remains for me is a new, deep well of gratitude that we’re all still alive, that our beautiful aina (land) is still here.

I also carry the knowledge that there are parents all over the world, right this second, who are protecting their children from war. My privilege, growing up as an American, is a privilege that many families do not have. There is no good that can come of war-mongering and weapon proliferation.

It is up to us, the parents, to fight for peace.

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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Products that solve your biggest breastfeeding challenges

Including a battle plan for clogged ducts!

When expecting a baby, there is a lot you can test-run in advance: Take that stroller around the block. Go for a spin with the car seat secured in place. Learn how to use the baby carrier with help from a doll. But breastfeeding? It's not exactly possible to practice before baby's arrival.

The absence of a trial makes it all the more important to prepare in other ways for breastfeeding success—and it can be as simple as adding a few of our lactation aiding favorites to your registry.

MilkBliss chocolate chip soft baked lactation cookies

MilkBliss lactation cookies

Studies have shown the top reason women stop breastfeeding within the first year is because they are concerned about their milk supply being enough to nourish baby. Consider MilkBliss Lactation Cookies to be your secret weapon. Not only are they wholesome and delicious, but they were formulated specifically for breastfeeding moms based on the science of galactagogues—also known as milk boosters. They also come in peanut butter and wild blueberry flavors.

$23

Evereden multi-purpose healing balm

Evereden multipurpose healing balm

Also up there on the list of reasons women stop breastfeeding: the toll the early days can take on nipples. Made from just five ingredients, this all natural healing balm is ideal for soothing chafed nipples, making for a much more comfortable experience for mama as her body adjusts to the needs of a breastfeeding baby.

$20

Lansinoh milk storage bags

Lansinoh milk storage bags

For a breastfeeding mama, there are few things more precious and valuable than the milk she worked so hard to pump—and it's the stuff of nightmares to imagine it spilling out in the fridge. With these double-sealed milk storage bags, you can be assured your breastmilk is safe and sound until baby needs it.

$12.50

Belly Bandit bandita nursing bra

Belly Bandit bandita nursing bra

Nursing a baby is a 24/7 job, which calls for some wardrobe modifications. Because Belly Bandit specializes in making things more comfortable for the postpartum mama, they've truly thought of every detail—from the breathable fabric to the clips that can be easily opened with one hand.

$47

boob-ease soothing therapy pillows

Boob Ease soothing therapy pillows

For nursing moms, duct can quickly become a four-letter word when you suspect it's getting clogged. By keeping these soothing breast pillows in your breastfeeding arsenal, you can immediately go on the defense against plugged milk ducts by heating the pads in the microwave or cooling them in the freezer.

$25

Belly Bandit perfect nursing tee

Belly Bandit perfect nursing tee

A unfortunate reality of nursing is that it can really seem to limit the wardrobe options when you have to think about providing easy, discrete access. But by adding functional basics to your closet, you can feel confident and prepared for breastfeeding on the go.

$59

Bebe au Lait premium cotton nursing cover

Bebe au Lait cotton nursing cover

Nursing in public isn't every mama's cup of tea. But babies can't always wait until you've found a private place to get down to business if that's your preference. That's where a nursing cover comes in handy. This one is made from premium cotton and features a patented neckline that allows for airflow and eye contact even while you're covered.

$36

Lactation Lab basic breastmilk testing kit

Lactation Lab breastmilk testing kit

Curious to learn more about the liquid gold you're making, mama? The testing kit from Lactation Labs analyzes your breast milk for basic nutritional content like calories and protein, as well as vitamins, fatty acids and environmental toxins to help boost your breastfeeding confidence.

$99

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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I have two kids—and I think I'm done

The idea of "more," making more money, obtaining more things—and in my case, creating more life—is not necessarily the ticket to a happier life.

I met my best friend Katie in fifth grade and one of our most favorite games to play was MASH. Our future fates would be decided by one "magic number" where one of us counted the rings on a spiral circle after the other screamed STOP as loud as humanly possible. "Future Husband" and "Number of Children" were clearly our two favorite categories. I remember my "magic combination," and it was marrying Mel Gibson plus having four kids.

And my plan was to do all of this by the time I reached 27. Getting married and having children would be the ultimate climax of life. At the age of nine, the pressure was on to best prepare for the long climb to the top.

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