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Oh, the wonder of four!


Can there be a more adorable, a more precious age? At the same time they’re becoming “big boys” and “big girls,” these little ones still say and do the most delightful things.

They wear cowboy hats and fairy wings to birthday parties and play in the backyard wearing just their underwear and a superhero cape. They find bugs and oceans and refrigerator magnets utterly fascinating. And they delight in their parents attention.

It’s a magical, enchanting, and bittersweet age. When my babies were four, I remember being acutely aware that this was the old age of littleness. This was the beginning of the end of these precious days – the beginning of the end of such heartbreaking sweetness. Sure five and six and seven are still little and cute, but at four, I began to realize that our days of footie pajamas, sticky kisses, tiny toes, and playing dress-up were numbered.

It’s been seven years since I had a four-year-old. My last child is 11. And for me, 11 is the new four.

That might sound strange to some. What about a goofy, smelly, obnoxious 11-year-old is magical or enchanting? My answer: Everything.

Eleven is goofy because 11 is not self-conscious. Soon the day will come when I will pick my son up from school, and he will not half-run, half-gallop to the car dragging his hoodie and grinning from ear to ear because the school day is over or because I’ve brought the dog or he’s going to get a snack or a cute girl talked to him or his “team” won the football game at recess.

Sometime around 12 or 13 or 14, I can’t say exactly when, but soon, he will not run to me at the end of the school day. He won’t chatter all the way home. He won’t have a backpack full of things he wants me to see.

Soon he will start trying to be cool. And after three other children, I know that when he starts trying to be cool, a lot of things (like running to your mom) become increasingly uncool.

Sure, 11-year-olds smell sometimes, but that’s just part of their charm. Eleven-year-olds are still little enough to hate baths. They still like to play outside – games like chase and cops and robbers. They ride bikes for fun and skate and climb trees and turn over rocks looking for bugs.

Eleven smells like dirt and sweat and fresh air and childhood.

Eleven-year-olds can certainly be obnoxious but usually in a funny and playful way. Their jokes are corny, and their stories are long and rambling. They take great delight in being loud –singing, shouting, burping, and just making noise. And they find all forms of bathroom humor wildly hilarious.

Of course, I don’t expect the world at large to find these behaviors charming. So I teach my son to know when and where and with whom he can cut up. But I find the humor and rambunctiousness, even the obnoxiousness, of this age delightful because it comes from a place of fun, liveliness, and joy. It comes from a place of childhood.

But like four, 11 is a bittersweet age. It is the old age of childhood. Perhaps the most heartbreaking thing about 11 is that, on some level, my son knows this, too. I’m not the only one who realizes that very soon things will change.

At 11 he still stands firmly on the soil of childhood, but now and then I can see him peeking over the fence to the big world of adolescence. Like every kid at every age, he can’t wait to be bigger.

But sometimes I also notice a vague sadness in him – in the just-below-the-surface knowledge that soon his childhood will be over. How much longer will it be fun to build forts? How much longer will it be okay to get tucked in? How much longer can I cuddle with Mama while we watch a movie?

These questions are on both of our minds. Unlike a four-year-old who thinks nothing of the future, 11-year-olds have a sense of what is coming. We don’t talk about it, but in the last few months, we’ve hung out more – reading together, going for walks, throwing rocks in the creek, snuggling in front of the TV. We’re both making the most of these days.

I know that the adolescent years will be rough at times. He’ll be testing his boundaries. I’ll be trying to strike the balance between hanging on and letting go. But for now, he’s 11. He’s sweet and adorable, and he’s still a little boy – just for a little while longer.

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When you become a parent for the first time, there is an undeniably steep learning curve. Add to that the struggle of sorting through fact and fiction when it comes to advice and—whew—it's enough to make you more tired than you already are with that newborn in the house.

Just like those childhood games of telephone when one statement would get twisted by the time it was told a dozen times, there are many parenting misconceptions that still tend to get traction. This is especially true with myths about bottle-feeding—something that the majority of parents will do during their baby's infancy, either exclusively or occasionally.

Here's what you really need to know about bottle-feeding facts versus fiction.

1. Myth: Babies are fine taking any bottle

Not all bottles are created equally. Many parents experience anxiety when it seems their infant rejects all bottles, which is especially nerve wracking if a breastfeeding mom is preparing to return to work. However, it's often a matter of giving the baby some time to warm up to the new feeding method, says Katie Ferraro, a registered dietician, infant feeding specialist and associate professor of nutrition at the University of California San Francisco graduate School of Nursing.

"For mothers returning to work, if you're breastfeeding but trying to transition to bottle[s], try to give yourself a two- to four-week trial window to experiment with bottle feeding," says Ferraro.

2. Myth: You either use breast milk or formula

So often, the question of whether a parent is using formula or breastfeeding is presented exclusively as one or the other. In reality, many babies are combo-fed—meaning they have formula sometimes, breast milk other times.

The advantage with mixed feeding is the babies still get the benefits of breast milk while parents can ensure the overall nutritional and caloric needs are met through formula, says Ferraro.

3. Myth: Cleaning bottles is a lot of work

For parents looking for simplification in their lives (meaning, all of us), cleaning bottles day after day can sound daunting. But, really, it doesn't require much more effort than you are already used to doing with the dishes each night: With bottles that are safe for the top rack of the dishwasher, cleaning them is as easy as letting the machine work for you.

For added confidence in the sanitization, Dr. Brown's offers an incredibly helpful microwavable steam sterilizer that effectively kills all household bacteria on up to four bottles at a time. (Not to mention it can also be used on pacifiers, sippy cups and more.)

4. Myth: Bottle-feeding causes colic

One of the leading theories on what causes colic is indigestion, which can be caused by baby getting air bubbles while bottle feeding. However, Dr. Brown's bottles are the only bottles in the market that are actually clinically proven to reduce colic thanks to an ingenious internal vent system that eliminates negative pressure and air bubbles.

5. Myth: Bottles are all you can use for the first year

By the time your baby is six months old (way to go!), they may be ready to begin using a sippy cup. Explains Ferraro, "Even though they don't need water or additional liquids at this point, it is a feeding milestone that helps promote independent eating and even speech development."

With a complete line of products to see you from newborn feeding to solo sippy cups, Dr. Brown's does its part to make these new transitions less daunting. And, for new parents, that truly is priceless.

This article was sponsored by Dr. Brown's. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

Mamas, if you hire a cleaning service to tackle the toddler fingerprints on your windows, or shop at the neighborhood grocery store even when the deals are better across town, don't feel guilty. A new study by the University of British Columbia and Harvard Business School shows money buys happiness if it's used to give you more time. And that, in turn could be better for the whole family.

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As if we needed another reason to shop at Target, our favorite store is offering some great deals for mamas who need products for baby. Mom life can be expensive and we love any chance at saving a few bucks. If you need to stock up on baby care items, like diapers and wipes, now is the time.

Right now, if you spend $100 on select diapers, wipes, formula, you'll get a $20 gift card with pickup or Target Restock. Other purchases will get you $5 gift cards during this promotion:

  • $20 gift card when you spend $100 or more on select diapers, wipes, formula, and food items using in store Order Pickup, Drive Up or Target Restock
  • $5 gift card when you buy 3 select beauty care items
  • $5 gift card when you buy 2 select household essentials items using in store Order Pickup, Drive Up or Target Restock
  • $5 gift card when you buy 2 select Iams, Pedigree, Crave & Nutro dog and cat food or Fresh Step cat litter items using in store Order Pickup
  • $5 gift card when you buy 3 select feminine care items using in store Order Pickup, Drive Up or Target Restock

All of these promotions will only run through 11:59 pm PT on Saturday, January 19, 2019 so make sure to stock up before they're gone!

Because the deals only apply to select products and certain colors, just be sure to read the fine print before checking out.

Target's website notes the "offer is valid using in store Order Pickup, Drive Up or Target Restock when available".

The gift cards will be delivered after you have picked up your order or your Target Restock order has shipped.

We won't tell anyone if you use those gift cards exclusively for yourself. 😉 So, get to shopping, mama!

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This month isn't just the start of a new year, but the start of a new life for those due in 2019. If you're expecting a baby this year you've got plenty of celebrity company, mama.

Here are some fellow mamas-to-be expecting in 2019:

Alexa and Carlos PenaVega 

The Spy Kids actress and mom to 2-year-old Ocean will soon have to get herself a double stroller because PenaVega and her husband Carlos are expecting again.

"Holy Moly!!! Guys!!! We are having another baby!!!!" captioned an Instagram post. "Do we wake Ocean up and tell him??!! Beyond blessed and excited to continue growing this family!!! Get ready for a whole new set of adventures!!!"

Over on Carlos' IG the proud dad made a good point: " This year we will officially be able to say we have 'kids!' Our minds are blown," he write.

Jessa Duggar and Ben Seewald

In January Counting On Jessa Seewald (formerly Jessa Duggar) announced via Instagram that she is pregnant with her third child with husband Ben Seewald.

We love that she was able to make the announcement in her own time, not worrying about speculation about her midsection. She's been over that for a while.

[Update: January 18, added PenaVega]

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The shape appeals to kids and the organic and gluten-free labels appeal to parents in the freezer aisle, but if you've got a bag of Perdue's Simply Smart Organics Gluten Free Chicken Breast Nuggets, don't cook them.

The company is recalling 49,632 bags of the frozen, fully cooked Simply Smart Organics Gluten Free Chicken Breast Nuggets because they might be contaminated with wood.

According to the USDA, Perdue received three complaints about wood In the nuggets, but no one has been hurt.

The nuggets were manufactured on October 25, 2018 with a "Best By" date of October 25, 2019. The UPC code is 72745-80656. (The USDA provides an example of the packaging here so you'll know where to look for the code).


In a statement on the Perdue website the company's Vice President for Quality Assurance, Jeff Shaw, explains that "After a thorough investigation, we strongly believe this to be an isolated incident, as only a minimal amount of these packages has the potential to contain pieces of wood."

If you have these nuggets in your freezer you can call Perdue 877-727-3447 to ask for a refund.

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