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The summer had been particularly challenging. I’d been sick the entire time so keeping my three- and five-year-old kids alive, let alone entertained, felt like a Sisyphean task, one which left me little time or frankly desire to connect with my husband. Mitch and I hadn’t been on a date in months and had had sex just once, which I’d primarily agreed to because he promised to let me nap afterwards.


I’d been banking on this end-of-summer vacation to Cape Cod to fix everything: the waves and sun would transform the kids into living Gap ads while the salty air reinvigorated me, allowing my husband and I to reconnect over lobster rolls and local beers, talking and making love as the kids slept, the smell of salt still on our skin.

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But it hadn’t gotten off to a good start. By the time the car was packed, Mitch and I were barely speaking. The previous night’s fight might’ve simply dissipated if it hadn’t been stoked by a missing bathing suit and an exploding bottle of sunscreen. We spent the first three hours of the drive mostly staring out the windows, the kids’ high pitched whines of “Are we there yet?” interrupted only by threats of impending vomit.

Though we’d packed enough snacks to drive to California and back, we decided to stop for lunch, figuring everyone could use a break from the car. As we exited the highway and headed towards a Friendly’s restaurant, I noticed a Dollar Store in a strip off to the left. I considered pointing it out to Mitch, but didn’t bother. But I thought I saw his eyes flick over towards it and then back towards mine.

I have an unbridled love for Dollar Stores. Partially because of my deep-rooted love of a bargain but mostly because they represent possibility on the simplest level. Everything within their walls is in reach: items as utilitarian as bathroom cleanser to tchotchkes as superfluous as a night-light in the shape of President Lincoln. Also, a Dollar Store helped my husband and I fall in love.

Mitch and I met at New Year’s Eve party in Brooklyn when we were in our thirties, spending the hours leading up to midnight talking in the corner and the hours until sunrise making out with a manic urgency. The problem was that he lived in Tucson. Despite the intensity of our connection, I wasn’t interested in a long-distance romance. But when a sudden work trip sent me to Phoenix a week later, it felt like the universe giving me a hard shove. So I extended my trip to see him. That weekend, among more intense personal discoveries, we unearthed our mutual love of the Dollar Store. “I’ll take you to my favorite one,” he said, “but you understand that means this is serious.”

“Clearly,” I said. “Lead the way.”

At the store, we started to wander the aisles when we came up with the game: we would have three dollars and ten minutes to buy presents for the other person. We made a big show out of synchronizing our watches before heading off in opposite directions. I walked up and down the aisles scanning the shelves, feeling a rush of pleasure when I found something I thought would make him smile. We checked out in separate lines, making exaggerated displays of shielding our items.

Back at his apartment, with great solemnity he handed me the first of my treasures: a grass skirt and lei clearly intended for someone much smaller than me. I promptly put them on and handed him a toy bow and arrow set. He ripped it open and started chasing me around the apartment, shooting little rubber arrows at me as I leapt from bed to couch. When he finally got me, I collapsed onto the floor laughing and he joined me, reaching out his hand to weave our fingers together. It was in that moment that I thought, “Here is my person. Here is someone I can laugh through life with.”

Fast forward eight years: marriage, two kids, unemployment on both ends, and it turns out that no one laughs through life. Sometimes it felt like we had the most beautiful family in the world and sometimes, like now, it felt like we were reluctant partners in a struggling start-up, clinging to the hope of future returns.

I had hoped the Friendly’s would be an instant injection of fun but by the time the food came my five-year-old, Owen, was sucking water into his straw and spraying it across the table with noise effects approximating an asthmatic whale while Nora screamed that her quesadilla was “dis-gus-ting!” Despite not touching their lunch, we let them devour the sugar and dye-ridden ice-cream concoctions (basically FDA-approved cocaine for kids) making it critical to run them around before loading them back into the car. But there was no open space in sight.

Then, I remembered the Dollar Store.

Maybe I had it all wrong. We weren’t in too much of a slump for the Dollar Store. Maybe the Dollar Store was exactly what we needed. We could still save this.

I leaned into Mitch and whispered, “Let’s go have a romantic adventure at the Dollar Store.” I felt flirty and magnanimous but he just stared down at his phone without saying a word.

“I want to go on a romantic adventure,” my son said, through a mouthful of whipped cream. “What’s a romantic adventure anyway?”

“Something your father clearly isn’t interested in,” I muttered, then turned to Mitch, “That was supposed to be an effort at reconciliation.”

“I took it as such,” he sighed, “I was just calculating the tip.” He put down his phone, looked up and smiled, the beginning of a glimmer lighting his eyes. “I would love nothing more than to go the Dollar Store with you.”

I reached across the table, took his hand, and said, “Let’s show our kids how this is done.”

At the store, we split into teams. I took Owen, who approached the task with a Mission Impossible fervor, running ahead in the aisle, emitting a fire-alarm sound if he saw his dad and sister. After the initial urge to grab things for himself, he was 100 percent invested in the game, crowing, “Oh, Nora will love this!” when he found an ideal item. He picked out jewel shaped wall decals, a Winnie-the-Pooh coloring book, and a glow-in-the-dark wand with a star on top.

I had a harder time picking out things for Mitch. There wasn’t a huge selection and I didn’t think a can of WD-40 would say what I wanted it to. I wanted my gifts to be reminders of fun, of laughter. I wanted them to say that I still saw the person that he was beyond father and other half of household management. The first gift I found that seemed right was a blue koozie with a Tic-Tac-Toe board on it that said, “Think outside of the box.”

On one level it could show my belief in his individuality and on the other be a carte blanche to kick back and have a beer on the beach. Next in the basket were some party lights in the shape of red-solo cups because this was a vacation after all. Then I needed the piece de resistance, the item that would say I was still the woman who’d throw on a grass skirt and run around the apartment, that I believed in us as much now as I did then. The closest I could find to a bow and arrow set was a plastic dart set, so in it went.

I caught Mitch’s eye as he went up one aisle and I went down the other. “We’re way over our time limit,” I whispered.

“I know, but the kids are having fun,” he said.

“Let’s run it out then,” I said. “Maybe they’ll fall asleep in the car.”

“And we can make out in the parking lot?” he asked, laughing.

“Maybe,” I said, as Owen took off down the aisle, “or just drive without listening to complaining or Little Bunny Foo-Foo on repeat.”

Eventually, we called “time” and headed towards the registers. As we checked out, Owen was jumping out of his skin with excitement, urgently telling the cashier to make sure the people in the next aisle over didn’t see what we were buying.

We all gathered together on the sidewalk outside of the store. Owen presented his first, handing them proudly over to Nora. With each one she squealed, “Oh, this is exactly what I wanted. How did you know?” He was glowing with pride as he pointed out features of the items. When they switched, Owen was similarly pleased with his.

I handed Mitch his gifts one by one, explaining them as I went. He held them in his hands and smiled. “They’re perfect. I can’t wait to have a beer on the beach in this!”

Then it was my turn. Mitch handed me my first gift, a tiny square of fabric that transformed into a washcloth with a scene from “Frozen” on it. A washcloth? We’d never even watched “Frozen” and Mitch was fundamentally anti-princess. What did this have to do with me or our relationship? Next, came an enormous pair of blue sunglasses that didn’t even have shades in them. Then finally a purple, plastic necklace and bracelet set. I held the necklace in my hand, trying to connect to it, trying to figure out what he’d thought when he was picking it out. I felt cheated. I’d spent so much time carefully selecting things for him but it felt like he’d just swept a few things off the shelf. I looked up at him with a quizzical look, not even bothering to fake enthusiasm.

 “Nora picked them all out,” he said, sensing my disappointment. “I know they’re not perfect but she was so excited about getting you things, I didn’t want to stop her.”

“It’s purple! It’s our favorite color!” Nora said, tugging at my hand, practically sparkling with excitement.

Looking down at her joyous face, I realized that to be upset that he hadn’t bought the “right” items was ridiculous. Did I really want a man who would push a three-year-old aside because he had something to prove to his wife? The entire purpose of the Dollar Store game is to be open to the possibility that a piece of plastic can make you happy for the sole reason that the other person, or in this case people, were happy picking it out for you. The thing itself didn’t prove anything. Yes, in an ideal world, he could’ve let her choose something and found something himself too but, to be fair, multi-tasking was never his strong suit.

“Put the necklace on, Mama!” Nora said. “Put it on!”

I slipped the necklace over my head and the bracelet onto my wrist, holding it out for my daughter to see. “I love it,” I said. Maybe the proof was in the necklace after all, that we were able to bring our children into this, to make meaning in a new way.

We made it to Cape Cod. The kids weren’t transformed into perfect Gap ads but we played seaweed baseball on the beach, made giant sand sculptures, and ate lobster rolls in bulk. Sadly, the kids never napped, but one afternoon we put the television on in their room, and in our adjoining room I donned the giant blue sunglasses and handed my husband a plastic dart.

“Chase me,” I said.

“Always.” he answered.

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Pop quiz, mama! How many different types of car seats are there? If you guessed three, you're partially correct. The three main types are rear-facing car seats, forward-facing car seats, and booster seats. But then there are a variety of styles as well: infant car seats, convertible seats, all-in-one seats, high-back booster seats, and backless boosters. If you're not totally overwhelmed yet, keep reading, we promise there's good stuff ahead.

There's no arguing that, in the scheme of your baby and child gear buying lifetime, purchasing a car seat is a big deal! Luckily, Walmart.com has everything you need to travel safely with your most precious cargo in the backseat. And right now, you can save big on top-rated car seats and boosters during Best of Baby Month, happening now through September 30 at Walmart.com.

As if that wasn't enough, Walmart will even take the carseat your kiddos have outgrown off your hands for you (and hook you up with a sweet perk, too). Between September 16 and 21, Walmart is partnering with TerraCycle to recycle used car seats. When you bring in an expired car seat or one your child no longer fits into to a participating Walmart store during the trade-in event, you'll receive a $30 gift card to spend on your little one in person or online. Put the money towards a brand new car seat or booster or other baby essentials on your list. To find a participating store check here: www.walmart.com/aboutbestofbabymonth

Ready to shop, mama? Here are the 9 best car seat deals happening this month.


Safety 1st Grow and Go Spring 3-in-1 Convertible Car Seat

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From rear-facing car seat to belt-positioning booster, Grow and Go Sprint's got you covered through childhood. Whether you choose the grey Silver Lake, Seafarer or pink Camelia color palette, you'll love how this model grows with your little one — not to mention how easy it is to clean. The machine-washable seat pad can be removed without fussing with the harness, and the dual cup holders for snacks and drinks can go straight into the dishwasher.

Price: $134 (regularly $149)

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Baby Trend Hybrid Plus 3-in-1 Booster Car Seat in Bermuda

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When your toddler is ready to face forward, this versatile car seat can be used as a five-point harness booster, a high-back booster, and a backless booster. Padded armrests, harness straps, and seat cushions provide a comfy ride, and the neutral gray seat pads reverse to turquoise for a stylish new look.

Price: $72.00 (regularly $81)

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Baby Trend Hybrid Plus 3-in-1 Booster Car Seat in Olivia

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Looking for something snazzy, mama? This black and hot pink car seat features a playful heart print on its reversible seat pad and soft harness straps. Best of all, with its 100-pound weight limit and three booster configurations, your big kid will get years of use out of this fashionable design.

Price: $72.00 (regularly $81)

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Evenflo Triumph LX Convertible Car Seat

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This rear- and forward-facing car seat keeps kids safer, longer with an adjustable five-point harness that can accommodate children up to 65 lbs. To tighten the harness, simply twist the conveniently placed side knobs; the Infinite Slide Harness ensures an accurate fit every time. As for style, we're big fans of the cozy quilted design, which comes in two colorways: grey and magenta or grey and turquoise.

Price: $116 (regularly $149.99)

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Disney Baby Light 'n Comfy 22 Luxe Infant Car Seat

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Outfitted with an adorable pink-and-white polka dot Minnie Mouse infant insert, even the tiniest of travelers — as small as four pounds! — can journey comfortably and safely. This rear-facing design is lightweight, too; weighing less than 15 lbs, you can easily carry it in the crook of your arm when your hands are full (because chances are they will be).

Price: $67.49 (regularly $89.99)

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Graco 4Ever 4-in-1 Convertible Car Seat

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We know it's hard to imagine your tiny newborn will ever hit 100 lbs, but one day it'll happen. And when it does, you'll appreciate not having to buy a new car seat if you start with this 4-in-1 design! Designed to fit kids up to 120 lbs, it transforms four ways, from a rear-facing car seat to a backless belt-positioning booster. With a 6-position recline and a one-hand adjust system for the harness and headrest, you can easily find the perfect fit for your growing child.

Price: $199.99 (regularly $269.99)

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Graco SlimFit All-in-One Convertible Car Seat

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With its unique space-saving design, this 3-in-1 car seat provides 10% more back seat space simply by rotating the dual cup holders. The InRight LATCH system makes installation quick and easy, and whether you're using it as a rear-facing car seat, a forward-facing car seat, or a belt-positioning booster, you can feel confident that your child's safe and comfortable thanks to Graco's Simply Safe Adjust Harness System.

Price: $149.99 (regularly $229.99)

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Graco Snugride Snuglock 35 Platinum XT Infant Car Seat

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Making sure your infant car seat is secure can be tricky, but Graco makes it easy with its one-second LATCH attachment and hassle-free three-step installation using SnugLock technology. In addition to its safety features, what we really love about this rear-facing seat are all of the conveniences, including the ability to create a complete travel system with Click Connect Strollers and a Silent Shade Canopy that expands without waking up your sleeping passenger.

Price: $169.99 (regularly $249.99)

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Graco Snugride Snuglock 35 Elite Infant Car Seat

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With just one click, you can know whether this rear-facing car seat has been installed properly. Then adjust the base four different ways and use the bubble level indicator to find the proper position. When you're out and about, the rotating canopy with window panel will keep baby protected from the sun while allowing you to keep your eye on him.

Price: $129.99 (regularly $219.99)

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This article was sponsored by Walmart. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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If I ever want to look alive before dropping my son off to school, there are two things I must put on before leaving the house: eyeliner and mascara. When using eyeliner, I typically use black liner on my top lid, a slightly lighter brown for my bottom lid, and then a nude liner for my water line. It works every time.

My mascara routine is a bit different. Because my natural lashes are thin and not the longest, I always opt for the darkest black I can find, and one that's lengthening and volumizing. For this reason, I was immediately drawn to It Cosmetics Lash Blowout Mascara. The new mascara is developed in partnership with Drybar (the blow dry bar that specializes in just blowouts) and promises to deliver bold and voluminous lashes all day long. I was sold.

Could this really be the blowout my lashes have been waiting for? It turns out, it was much better than most volumizing formulas I've tried.

For starters, the wand is a great size—it's not too big or small, and it's easy to grip—just like my favorite Drybar round brush. As for the formula, it's super light and infused with biotin which helps lashes look stronger and healthier. I also love that it's buildable, and I didn't notice any clumps or flakes between coats.

The real test is that my lashes still looked great at dinnertime. I didn't have smudges or the dreaded raccoon eyes I always get after a long day at work. Surprisingly, the mascara actually stayed in place. To be fair, I haven't compared them with lash-extensions (which are my new go-to since having baby number two), but I'm sure it will hold up nicely.

Overall, I was very impressed with the level of length and fullness this mascara delivered. Indeed, this is the eyelash blowout my lashes have been waiting for. While it won't give you a few extra hours in bed, you'll at least look a little more awake, mama.

It Cosmetics Lash Blowout Mascara

It Cosmetics Lash Blowout Mascara
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Here's how I apply IT Cosmetics Lash Blowout Mascara:

  1. Starting as close to lash line as possible (and looking down), align the brush against your top lashes. Gradually turn upwards, then wiggle the wand back and forth up and down your eyelashes.
  2. Repeat, if needed. Tip: Be sure to allow the mascara to dry between each coat.
  3. Using the same technique, apply mascara to your bottom lashes, brushing the wand down your eyelashes.
Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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Having children isn't always as easy as it looks on Instagram. There's so much more to motherhood than serene baby snuggles and matching outfits. But there's a reason we've fallen so deeply in love with motherhood: It's the most beautiful, chaotic ride.

Every single day, we sit back and wonder how something so hard can feel so rewarding. And Eva Mendes just managed to nail the reality of that with one quote.

Eva, who is a mama to daughters Esmerelda and Amada with Ryan Gosling, got real about the messy magic of motherhood in a recent interview.

"It's so fun and beautiful and maddening," the actress tells Access Daily. "It's so hard, of course. But it's like that feeling of…you end your day, you put them to bed and Ryan and I kind of look at each other like, 'We did it, we did it. We came out relatively unscathed.'"

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And just like that, moms all over the world feel seen. We've all been there: Struggling to get through the day (which, for the record is often every bit as fun as it is challenging), only to put those babies to sleep and collapse on the couch in sheer exhaustion. But, after you've caught your breath, you realize just how strong and capable you really are.

One thing Eva learned the hard way? That sleep regressions are very, very real...and they don't just come to an end after your baby's first few months. "I guess they go through a sleep regression, which nobody told me about until I looked it up," she says "I was like, 'Why isn't my 3-year-old sleeping?'"

But, at the end of the day, Eva loves her life as a mom—and the fact that she took a break from her Hollywood career to devote her days to raising her girls. "I'm so thankful I have the opportunity to be home with them," she says.

Thank you for keeping it real, Eva! Momming isn't easy, but it sure is worth it.

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My labor and delivery was short and sweet. I started feeling contractions on Monday morning and by Tuesday night at 8:56 pm my handsome baby boy was born. Only 30 minutes of pushing. Afterward, I was still out of it, to be honest. I held him and did some skin to skin and handed him off to my husband, my mother held him next.

When he was in my mother's arms, I knew he was safe. I started to drift off, the epidural had me feeling drowsy and I had used up all my strength to push this 7 lb baby out. My son's eyes were open and then I guess he went to sleep too. My mother swayed him back and forth. The nurses were in and out, cleaning me up and checking in on us.

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When yet another nurse came in, my mom said to her, "He wasn't latching because he wanted to sleep."

The nurse yelled, "He's not sleeping!"

The next 25 minutes happened in slow motion for me.

After the nurse said these words, she flung my son onto the little baby bed. I looked over and he looked a little blue. Then I heard the loud words of CODE PINK. In matters of seconds about 30 nursing staff descended into my room and crowded around my baby.

I couldn't even see what was happening. I tried to get out the bed but they wouldn't let me and after a couple of failed attempts one of the nurses look at me and said, "He's fine, he's breathing now."

Breathing now? He wasn't breathing before? Again, I tried to push my way to my baby, but once again I was told to not move. They had just performed CPR on my 30-minute old newborn and I couldn't understand what was happening even after a pediatrician tried to explain it to me.

I just started crying. He was fine in my stomach for 39 weeks and 6 days and now I bring him into this world and his heart nearly stops?

I was told he needed to go to the neonatal intensive care unit. I was confused, as I thought the NICU was only for preemies and my son was full term.

After what felt like an eternity we were finally allowed to see our son. My husband wheeled me there and we saw him in the corner alone. I saw the incubator and the wires, he's all bundled up.

The nurse explained all the beeping and showed me the heart rate monitor. He's doing fine. We go over the feeding schedule. I'm exhausted still. I stay with him until about 1 or 2 am. They all suggest I get some sleep. There's no bed in the NICU, so I head back to my room.

The next day was better, he doesn't have to be in the incubator anymore, but the wires remain. By that night or early the next morning, the wires in his nose come out and I try feeding him. I try pumping. It was painful.

He gets his first bath and he loves it. The nurse shampoos his hair (he had a lot!) and he seems so soothed. The nurse explains that because he's full term he doesn't need the same type of support in the NICU. She tells me my baby's strong and he'll be fine.

I look around. I see the other babies, the other moms. They could be there for weeks. And unlike me, the moms have to go home—without their baby.

Friday comes and by now he's done all his tests, blood work came back normal, all tubes have been removed and I get it. I get my going-home package. Finally. I get my instructions on doctor follow-ups and we finally get to go home.

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There have been a lot of iconic entertainment magazine covers featuring pregnant women over the years. Who can forget Demi Moore's bare baby bump on Vanity Fair or Britney Spears' similar nude pose on Harper's Bazaar?

Pregnant women on a magazine covers is nothing new, but a visibly pregnant CEO on the cover of a business magazine, that's a first and it happened this week.

Inc. just put The Wing's CEO Audrey Gelman on the cover and this is a historic moment in publishing and business.

As Gelman told Today this week, "You can't be what you can't see, so I think it's so important for women to see that it's possible to run a fast-growing business and also to start a family."

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She continued: "It's so important to sort of burst that bubble and to have new images of women who are thriving and working professionally while balancing motherhood … My hope is that women see this and again feel the confidence to take greater professional risks while also not shelving their dreams of becoming a mother and starting a family."

The Wing started in 2016 as a co-working space for women and has grown rapidly. As Inc. reports, The Wing has eight locations in the U.S. with plans for more American and international locations by 2020.

Putting Gelman on the cover was an important move by Inc. and Gelman's honesty about her early pregnancy panic ("I can't be pregnant. I have so much to do." she recalls thinking after her pregnancy test) should be applauded.

Gelman says pregnancy made her slow down physically, and that it was actually good for her company: "I had this realization: The way to make my team and my employees feel proud to work for me and for the company was actually not to pretend to be superhuman or totally unaffected by pregnancy."

We need this. We need CEOs to admit that they are human so that corporate leadership can see employees as humans, too. Humans need things like family leave and flexibility, especially when they start raising little humans.

There are a lot of iconic covers featuring pregnant women, but this one is different. She's wearing clothes and she's changing work culture.

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