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I was sitting on my “Dad recliner” a couple days ago when, out of the corner of my eye, I caught a glimpse of a fast-approaching creature of glitter and hair. It was my five-year-old, Aimee. She approached me, arm raised in my direction, clutching something in her marker-covered sticky fingers. Experience had taught me there was a 50/50 chance that whatever she was holding had a heartbeat. As she opened her Cheetos-stained fingers to present her offering, I instinctively recoiled and braced for what might be a panicked creature captured from the yard. Luckily, what she was holding turned out to be a toy necklace she’d received this past Christmas.

(I know, it’s kind of a let-down. If I was reading this story I would want to hear about a grown man climbing over the back of a recliner to get away from whatever angry creature his daughter had tried to “show” him. Bear with me. I assure you, it gets interesting.)

The toy necklace my daughter presented to me is a replica of a princess amulet from a cartoon that is currently popular in our household. Not that it’s an important part of the story, but the amulet gives its wearer the magic ability to talk to animals or fly or something. Again, that’s not the important part. What is important is that the designers of the toy version of the amulet spent an extra three cents to install a small, purple LED that causes the amulet to light up when you press a small, purple button. The crazy thing about light-up toys is that they run on batteries and, since we haven’t figured out how to create amulet-sized nuclear reactors, the small, purple LED eventually drained the life out of even the best bunny-mascotted batteries.

Such was the reason that my young offspring presented her amulet at my Throne of Dad. The batteries were dead.

I have four kids. Each of those kids has at least one birthday during the year. We also celebrate the customary gift-giving holidays like Christmas, Easter, and Corn Dog Day. (It’s a real holiday. 3rd Saturday in March. Look it up.) If I were to multiply the number of kids I have by the number of gift-giving holidays there are, I would come up with approximately 846 battery-operated toys that are currently scattered throughout my house. It’s unreasonable to think that I’m going to replace the batteries on approximately 846 toys every six months to a year. It’s unreasonable on the basis of preserving both my money and my sanity.

Being the experienced parental figure that I am, I’ve perfected a technique to appropriately handle this situation. This technique may have been imitated, but never duplicated. Since I like you, I’m going to tell you how it works.

Take the toy from the child. Bring it up to your eye level and examine it, as if you’re Indiana Jones examining an ancient artifact. At this point, you should try to show some genuine concern. Not too much, though. Kids are good at picking up on feigned sincerity. I’ve found that cocking an eyebrow, grabbing my chin, and letting out a concerned “hmmmmmmm” while examining the toy seems to be the perfect balance of concern and contemplation.

After 20 or 30 seconds of examining the toy, quietly let out a defeated sigh accompanied by a “tsk tsk tsk.” When your kid looks up at you tell them, in the same manner that a doctor delivers bad news to a family, that you tried your best. When they ask what’s wrong, present the toy back to your kid and, with genuine concern still on your face, inform them of the tragic news….that they don’t make that type of battery anymore. As this may be a difficult time for your child, you should familiarize yourself with the stages of toy grief. Denial, anger, hunger, boredom, snack time, cartoons, can we watch a movie, I want some snacks, stop hitting your sister, what was I even sad about in the first place, toy what toy.

This was my go-to strategy for toys with dead batteries. It had worked for all of my kids and their dumb, noise-making toys. My technique worked so well that I secretly cut notches in my bed post every time I successfully navigated the perils of having to purchase new batteries for dumb, noise-making toys. Okay, I don’t really do that because a) I’m not actually that mean and b) it’s a really nice bed post. Also c) my wife would punch me in the face if I started carving up the furniture.

However, I have used the no-longer-producing-those-batteries routine before. I planned on using it for the purple amulet, but when she handed me the amulet and I saw the hopeful look in her eyes, a thought struck me. It wasn’t one of those quiet thoughts that you brush off and pay no attention to. This was a booming voice and a kick in the ass. When my little girl handed me that plastic, purple necklace I remembered something I had read, the importance of which I didn’t understand until that moment.

While perusing Facebook one day, I came across a picture of an old couple with a message underneath it. The words read, “A reporter asked the couple ‘How did you manage to stay together for 65 years?’ The woman replied, ‘We were born in a time when if something was broken you fixed it, you didn’t throw it away.”

I don’t know why this plastic necklace made me think of that picture. In that moment, those words resonated with me in a way that not only reflected on my parenting, but also on the expectations I was setting for my kids for the rest of their lives. What does it say about us as a culture when we can treat so many things as disposable and temporary? We, as parents, were teaching our kids that once something is no longer useful or in the same condition as when they first experienced it, it no longer carries the same value that it once did. By no means am I trying to sound self-righteous or judgmental. After all, this realization came as a result of something that had become commonplace in our house.

I’ve heard plenty of conversations about the sanctity of marriage and the unbelievable divorce rate. I know it’s kind of a stretch to go from children’s’ toys to matrimony, but aren’t we setting up the foundation of our children’s personalities at this young age? Aren’t we supposed to instill in them the notion that because something is broken, it doesn’t mean it can’t be fixed? Aren’t we supposed to teach them to be thankful for every gift they are lucky and special enough to receive? Yet we treat those same gifts as broken and devalued at the first sign of deterioration.

Like most things in parenting, the solution isn’t black and white. I decided to try something different. I could see that this toy was special to my child. It wasn’t just special in that moment and then forgotten the next. This small, plastic amulet was something she was truly thankful for. What would it speak to her if I treated it as just another toy? What customs and tendencies would she develop as a result of me diminishing and detracting something that she held so dear?

So I made her a promise, I would replace the batteries on the toys that she truly cherished. It was more than that. I would show her the value of the gifts she received. I would show her that sometimes it takes work to get something back to the way it used to be. I would show her the renewed joy that can be experienced from restoring something once thought broken to its former glory. When she found that she no longer needed or lost interest in a once-cherished toy, I would make sure she knows that it still has value, especially to those who want for the things we take for granted.

Buy the batteries. Fix the toys. As a parent, your actions and your inactions speak louder to your kids than words ever will.

Who said motherhood doesn't come with a manual?

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When model Mara Martin was one of 16 finalists selected to walk in the 2018 Sports Illustrated Swim Search show, she was thrilled to fulfill a lifelong dream. And when she woke up the day after the show to see that she and her baby daughter had made headlines around the world, she was thrilled all over again.

Martin breastfed her 5-month-old daughter Aria while walking in the runway, and the story spread quickly.

"It is truly so humbling and unreal to say the least," Martin wrote in an Instagram post Monday. "I'm so grateful to be able to share this message and hopefully normalize breastfeeding and also show others that women CAN DO IT ALL! But to be honest, the real reason I can't believe it is a headline is because it shouldn't be a headline!!! My story of being a mother and feeding her while walking is just that."

SI Swimsuit Editor MJ Day says the breastfeeding moment wasn't planned in advance, but it worked out wonderfully. Day was speaking with the models backstage when she noticed Aria was peacefully nursing away. Having breastfed her own two children, Day recognized this as a powerful moment in the making, according to SI Swimsuit.

"I asked Mara if she would want to walk and continue to nurse. She said 'Oh my gosh, yes! Really? Are you sure?', and I said absolutely! I loved the idea to be able to allow Mara to keep nursing and further highlight how incredible and beautiful women are," Day explained.

Martin hopes that her moment in the spotlight can help other mamas feel comfortable nursing when and where they feel like it, but she doesn't want to overshadow some of the other women who took part in the show.

"One woman is going to boot camp in two weeks to serve our country," she wrote. "One woman had a mastectomy (@allynrose), and another is a cancer survivor, 2x paralympic gold medalist, as well as a mother herself (@bren_hucks you rock) Those are the stories that our world should be discussing!!!!"

And thanks to Martin's powerful motherhood moment, now, people are.

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Dear Jeff Bezos and all who have anything to do with Amazon Prime Day,

I just want to start by saying—I know you are trying to be helpful. I love you all for that. I honestly do. But, you are kind of making me feel a lot of pressure today. Like, in a good way, but also, in an anxious way.

Let me explain…

On any given day, as a mother to three children, I have a certain level of anxiety. While it's not constant, I do have my anxious moments. Why? Because there are various versions of the following: Me asking my two older daughters to get their shoes on what feels like 500 times as I am changing my 9-month-old's very, very, very messy diaper while I am trying to figure out what I can throw on to wear in about five seconds while I am repeating brush your teeth, brush your teeth in my head so I, in fact, don't forget to brush my teeth.

Not even to mention the mental load that weighs on my mind every single day. Remember to flip the laundry, fill out the school forms, cancel that appointment, reschedule this appointment, order more diapers, figure out what we're having for dinner, squeeze in a shower, lock the basement door so the baby can't get down the stairs, find better eczema cream for my middle daughter, get more sunscreen...the list goes on and on and on.

But then you Amazon Prime Day me and I'm having a lot of feelings about that.

Because you're reminding me of things I need to order, to think about, to be on top of more.

The little potty that's on sale reminds me that I need to step up my potty training game for my 2-year-old. That super cute dollhouse reminds me that I need to think about my daughter's first birthday in two months (WHAT!). That face mask reminds me that I need to remember to wash my face before bed because I forget waaaay more than I remember which is terrible.

But then I realize, these deals are going to save my mental load by fixing my life. Right?

Like, I never knew I needed an Instant Pot until you told me it was only $58. Now I am scouring Pinterest for meals I want to prep in my own. THIS POT IS THE TICKET TO GETTING MY LIFE IN ORDER.

Do we need more plates and cups for the kids? I mean really they only probably need about two plates and two cups each but YES. Yes I do need more cute kids kitchenware. THESE PLATES ARE THE TICKET TO BEING A GOOD MOM.

What would I do if I had five Echo Dots? I don't know, but let's find out because they're only $29! THESE DOTS ARE THE TICKET TO EFFICIENCY.

If I order a Vitamix at 30% off, I know I'll lose the baby weight. Think of all the smoothies I'll mix up! I mean, I just lost a pound even thinking about the smoothies that thing can whip up. THIS VITAMIX IS THE TICKET TO A SEXY BOD.

Buying this trendy, floral dress will step up my mom style significantly. THIS DRESS IS THE TICKET TO KEEPING MY COOL.

Okay, then after I add all the fixers to my cart, I realize… I have 99 things, but necessity ain't one.

I mean, I have everything from waterproof band-aids to bras to dresses for myself and my kids to an alarm clock and books. I basically feel like Oprah—You get an Audible subscription! You get an Audible subscription!—but instead of these products magically being paid for by Queen O herself, the money is coming from my bank account, which is a lot less fun of a game, TBH.

And if I am being honest, I don't need much help with my order-things-from-Amazon-and-pretend-it's-being-paid-for-with-Monopoly-money game as I am quite often coming home to an Amazon package wondering what it could be, opening it with the enthusiasm of a kid on Christmas morning—even though I am the exact person who ordered whatever is inside of that Amazon box.

But today, on Amazon Prime Day, you tempt me with all the deals. And yes, my anxiety, blood pressure and adrenaline rise. And yes, my bank account might temporarily decrease—BUT if we are being fair, with the savings I'm getting on things I would buy anyway, I am basically making our account increase overall. Right?

And while these things aren't going to make me skinnier, or cooler, or more put together—I'm okay with that. I am doing a pretty good job on my own. But some of them will actually help my life in a few different ways at a reasonable price, and I am grateful for that—for real.

Now, Bezos, please end this 404 error nonsense and let me purchase all the things!

Thank you for all the savings and excitement,

Mamas everywhere

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Usually when celebrities post swimsuit photos on Instagram they don't exactly look like your average beach-going mom, but former Bachelorette (and mom of two) Ali Fedotowsky posted a series of bikini photos on Monday that are both beautiful and relatable.

"This might be my most vulnerable post on Instagram ever," she wrote in the caption for the photos which show a postpartum belly that looks like a real postpartum belly.

"At the end of the day, I know it's important to be open and honest about my postpartum body in hopes that it helps even one person out there who is struggling with their own body image," Fedotowsky (who just gave birth to her second child in May) wrote.

In the first photo of the series she's wearing a sarong around her stomach, but in the second and third photos Fedotowsky reveals the kind of stomach many mamas sport: It's not perfectly taut, she's not showing off any abs, but it is definity beautiful.

"If you swipe to see the second photo in this post, you see that my body has changed. My skin around my stomach is very loose and stretched out, I'm 15lbs heavier than I used to be, and my cup size has grown quite significantly," Fedotowsky writes.

The photos are a sponsored post for Lilly and Lime Swimwear (a line made for women with larger busts) but that doesn't mean it wasn't brave. In fact, the fact that it's an ad makes it even more amazing because research shows that when advertising only shows us bodies that don't look like our own, women become "generally more dissatisfied with their body and appearance".

Ali Fedotowsky

On her blog Fedotowsky notes that a lot of comments on her previous Instagram posts have been followers remarking how slim she looks, or how much they wish they looked like she does postpartum. By dropping that sarong and showing her tummy Fedotowsky is showing other mothers that there is nothing wrong with their own.

"While I appreciate the positive comments, you guys are always so good to me, I keep trying to explain that I'm just good at picking out clothes that flatter my body and hide my tummy," she wrote on her blog.

"I bounced back pretty quickly after I gave birth to Molly. But things are different this time and I'm OK with that. I'm learning to love my body and embrace how it's changed. I hope I get back to my pre-pregnancy shape one day, but that may never happen. And if it doesn't, that's OK."

Ali Fedotowsky

It is okay, because our bodies are more than our swimsuit selfies. They the vessels that carry us through life and carry our children and provide a safe, warm place for those children feel love.

Loose skin is a beautiful thing.

Thanks for keeping it real, Ali.

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Amazon shoppers were anxiously awaiting the countdown to Amazon Prime Day, but when the clock struck one, er three, the website went down.

On Monday afternoon shoppers were trying to get their hands on the much-hyped Prime Day deals but instead of low prices, many users just saw 404 errors, continuously refreshing pages, or had issues keeping or adding items to their shopping carts.

CNBC reports shares of Amazon were down during the shopping glitch, and many shoppers took to Twitter and Instagram to discuss how all they could see on Amazon were the dogs who decorate the site's 404 pages.

As cute as the dogs are, shoppers are getting tired of seeing them, so hopefully Amazon gets things back up and running soon. Analysts had projected Amazon would rake in $3 billion dollars this Prime Day. Time will tell how much of that was lost during the great dog picture debacle of 2018.

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