Parenting Archive

A Year in the Life


Before I had kids, I wanted to be one of those moms who made awesome scrapbooks. When I was pregnant with my first child, I routinely watched a TV show that demonstrated all sorts of tools and techniques to make gorgeous pages. Inspired, I bought a scrapbook and a bunch of paper and got to work. Eight years later, it hasn’t been updated beyond my baby shower.

When I was pregnant with my second child, I got inspired again and bought another with the intention of finishing my son’s and starting one for the new baby. Three years later, the book is still in its shrink-wrap.

By the time I got pregnant the third time, I had faced the reality that I would never be a scrapbooking mom. It just takes too much money, space, and (most important) time. I did want to do something, though, to commemorate the first year of my last child’s life.

Some of my friends take monthly photos of their babies sitting next to the same stuffed animal in order to have a visual record of their baby’s growth. I liked this idea, but we didn’t have any stuffed animals that seemed worthy the task, and I sure didn’t want to buy a new one just to be a photo prop.

After some brainstorming, it hit me: The car seat! Each month, I could take a photo of my baby in my beloved Coccoro. It was genius! (As it turns out, some other people from had gotten the same idea prior to my brainstorm, so my idea wasn’t necessarily unique, but I didn’t know it at the time.)

My baby boy turned 1 the other day, and I snapped my last monthly photo of him in the Coccoro. Without further ado, here is the closest thing Oliver will get to a scrapbook:

A couple days old, about 8 pounds, 20.5″ 


 One month


 Two months


 Three months


 Four months


 Five months


 Six months


 Seven months


 Eight months


 Nine months


 Ten months


 Eleven months


 One year! Approximately 18 lbs, 30″



8 isn’t Enough


A few days ago, my son Elias reached an important milestone: He turned 8.

In half of the states in America, kids turning 8 celebrate finally “freeing” themselves of the “constraint” of a booster seat. Yet as safety advocates and an increasing number of parents (and kids!) know, age has little to do with being able to ride safely in an adult seatbelt.

My own son has had vehicle safety driven into his head since the time he was born, and he does take it pretty seriously. Lately, though, even he has been longing to ditch his booster. I told him that on his birthday, we would check the fit in the regular seatbelt, just to see.

He’s familiar with the 5-step test kids need to pass before they can safely move into an adult seatbelt alone:

  • Child sits all the way back in the seat
  • Child’s knees bend comfortably at the edge of the seat
  • The lap belt sits low on the hips, touching the thighs (not on the tummy)
  • The shoulder belt crosses the middle of the shoulder (not falling off, and not rubbing the neck)
  • Child can sit that way for the entire ride

In my state, it’s actually part of the law that the seatbelt needs to fit properly before graduating from a booster seat, although most people (including lots of police officers) don’t realize that.

Elias is a tall kid: 54″ (90th percentile for 8-year-olds), so I worried a bit that he actually would fit well. But a promise is a promise, so here he is sitting in his usual position in the third row of our 2010 Honda Odyssey.

The lap belt is high, and the shoulder belt is on his neck. It’s hard to tell from the photo, but his knees aren’t anywhere near the edge of the seat.

I’ll admit I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw how horrible the fit was without the booster seat. Then I cringed, thinking of how many kids ride like this anyway.

Please make sure that your children fit properly in a seatbelt regardless of age, weight, or height, and remember that the fit might vary based on the vehicle and seating position. Needless to say, Elias is back in his booster and will remain there for quite some time.



Workin’ at the Kid Wash (Yeah!)


My family is in limbo right now. A few months ago, we sold our house and moved into a rental for a year. In a few more months, we plan on moving…somewhere. But not here. Our temporary house is nice enough, but it’s not ours, and since we’re not here for long, there’s a lot of stuff we haven’t bothered unpacking, and we haven’t wanted to invest in things like closet organizers that we might not need in our next place. So we’re feeling very unsettled and a bit anxious.

That’s why we decided to do something fun this summer to try to nudge us out of our doldrums.

Several years ago I found the plans for a “Kid Wash” in Family Fun magazine. It’s a sprinkler reminiscent of a car wash, but made for kids to run through. My husband agreed that it looked neat and we planned on building it, but never did. So I decided this was finally the year.

We went to the dollar store and Home Depot for all of our Kid Wash needs. We already had the PVC glue (not required, but we did glue a few parts) and pipe cutters at home. The rest of the supplies cost about $50.

Then we all got to work. I measured and marked. Steve cut. My 8-year-old helped drill the holes, and my 3-year-old helped glue. We put the pieces together, connected the hose, and next thing you knew, we had the hottest, coolest front yard in the neighborhood.

Steve altered the plans a bit. We eliminated the “stop” and “go” signs (the kids would ignore them anyway), and instead of nylon lawn-chair webbing (ouch!), we used pool noodles. We also wound up changing out the bits that shoot straight up for angled ones that further spray the kids as they run through. (That was a later alteration, so this picture doesn’t show it.)

My daughter decided that she wanted a “happy smile face that shoots water out of its mouth,” so we gave her a plastic plate to draw the face. Then we attached that and drilled through the plate and the pipe.

The nice thing about this project is that you really can customize it to fit your desires. (I admit it feels a bit sacrilegious to use pool noodles for something other than car seats, though I suppose this is closer to their true intent.)

Have I mentioned it’s a lot of fun, even for the grownups? Not that I’d know. I haven’t run through it dozens of times myself. Swear.

You might be shaking your fist in the air and yelling, “Jennie! Why tell us about this now that summer is almost over?!”

Where I live June is often downright chilly, and we might not hit our peak temperatures until September. It can be sweltering well into October. So the timing is actually great for us. Even if you live somewhere with a “normal” temperature, though, you still have a few more weeks before it gets cold, right? And if not, you can start collecting supplies and planning now for next year. You have a head start!

As with anything, make sure you take proper safety precautions, like using protective eyewear when you run through. (Not really. My kids are wimps.)

Just stay cool, and have fun.



An Olympic Dream is Born


I know my youngest (now 8 years old) can’t be the only kid out there who has been totally inspired by these summer Olympic games. He’s been staying up until midnight each night because he can’t go to sleep without knowing how it all plays out (we avoid the spoiler alerts). Luckily it’s summer and we both have the luxury of sleeping in most days.

He decided by day 2 that he was going to be an Olympic athlete. There was no question in his mind – only resolution. Maybe he wouldn’t win a medal (he’s okay with that – for now) but he was going to have that Olympic experience. The only question in his mind was which sport? Baseball wasn’t an option. Equestrian? Too expensive for our modest family budget. Badminten? Too uncool. Gymnastics? Requires insane amounts of flexibility (as do many other sports). Flexibility was a definite concern of his. He needed a sport that didn’t require any. This is the kid that can happily play sports all day long but ask him to bend and touch his toes and he can barely touch his knee caps!  Lol.

He pondered for another day and then decided. This was going to be his ticket to the 2020 Summer Olympics…


So, what are your kids dreaming of?