Phone Photo Friday






Play Alone Time



A: Why do I have to play alone?
M: Because Mommy needs some alone time.
A: Can’t you just pretend to be alone?

My 5-year-old hates to be alone. Whether it’s her personality, a result of her past, because she was an only child for most of her first 4 years or a combination of all of those; she wants constant feedback and attention. She loves to perform and loves to talk. When her little brother was born and as she started out-growing naps, it became apparent to me that we needed to institute some quiet alone time. For my sanity. And to teach her a skill she is lacking. As I’m writing this post right now she’s sitting at the desk next to me writing letters to “sick people” and chattering out loud the whole time, asking for my attention every 30 seconds or so.

Play alone time.

I think I found this blog post on Pinterest when Isaiah was an infant and I was desperate for 5 minutes without someone talking to/at me. It seemed like one of those obvious parenting moves that I had regretfully overlooked for four years. We should have been teaching her all along to play alone. Don’t misunderstand; kids need time with peers and time with parents and loads of attention. But learning to be content alone and play alone are life skills. Starting with 5-minute increments and working up to an hour, I’ve been teaching my kids to play alone. My 1-year-old can currently play alone contently longer than my 5-year-old. (Again, I wish I had started teaching her this skill a long time ago!) We’re up to 15-30 minutes now.


It’s amazing what I can get done in 15-30 minutes alone. It’s like a deep breath for my mind. I can get the dishwasher unloaded or dinner prepped. I can respond to emails. I can write a blog post. I can finish a graphic design project. Rachel, the writer of the blog post I mentioned above, has some great tips for how to teach your child to play alone. One benefit that I’m not sure if she mentions in her blog, my kids are more eager to play together after they’ve spent some time playing alone. Do yourself and your child a favor and start doing this if you don’t already!


Nursing Mom at Work



That sounds better than “breast-pumping mom at work” right? I started back to work two weeks ago. I’m really grateful to get to work from home the majority of the time. When I do go to the office one day a week, I get to use a private office. My first project on my first day back to work was to hang a curtain over my window for privacy and to make a sign for my door to let my coworkers know that when my door is closed, I need to not be disturbed. (I also lock the door.) I thought I’d share the sign files in case any other working moms would like to print one. I made three versions:

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Car Seat Safety and the Britax Advocate ARB



I was thrilled to be a part of a lunch event last week put on by the Nashville Mom Blog and Britax car seats. A group of mommy bloggers and a bunch of our little ones got to learn all about the new Britax Advocate ARB car seats and the best part—we got to take one home! I’ve loved Britax seats since we bought our first one back in 2011. Ali and Zay both ride in Britax seats and now Jo has a brand new one for her fancy self.


I was not familiar with Britax’s ClickTight system. It’s a sleek alternative to using the LATCH system that a lot of vehicles and car seats have. The hooks are often difficult to reach and it’s hard to get the car seat really tight. The seat is not supposed to be able to shift more than a 1 inch in either direction (at the belt path) once it’s secured to the car. The ClickTight uses the vehicle’s seat belt and snaps down into the car seat base in 3 quick steps and it’s so super tight. (NEVER use the LATCH system AND your vehicle’s seat belt; one or the other.)

Apparently 95% of people think they’ve installed their car seats correctly but 3/4 of them are NOT correctly installed. Yikes. I have to admit that with 8 kids (including the 5 fostered short term) and more car seats than I can count, I learned some things I’ve been doing wrong during the demonstration with the Britax reps Kate and Kelly.


The Britax Advocates we were given came with their new Anti-Rebound Bar (ARB). It’s very cool. It slides into the steel frame of the car seat for use when it’s rear-facing. The bar rests against your vehicle seat back. In the event of a collision the ARB reduced the rebound rotation (where the top of your car seat and your baby’s head could rotate toward the vehicle seat back) by 40 percent. It’s easy to install and easy to remove when it’s time to turn the car seat around for forward facing—which by the way is no sooner than 1 year old or 20 lbs., and it’s recommended that kids rear-face until 2 years old when their necks and spines are stronger. This car seat can be used in rear facing for babies 5-40 lbs. and forward facing for 20-65 lbs. and 49 inches tall. (For reference, my petite 5-year-old is still within the height and weight parameters for rear-facing!)

One common mistake that parents make with car seats is not tightening the belts enough. There should not be enough slack in the belts to pinch them once the child is buckled in. Britax has a solution for this common oversight: you pull the strap to tighten the harness until it clicks. It won’t over tighten! It really just clicks and stops tightening when it’s in the right position.


Another common mistake is having the chest clip too low. It should always be at armpit height.


For rear facing the shoulder straps should be at or below shoulder height of the child. For forward facing the shoulder straps should be at or above shoulder height. The tether at the back of the car seat is only for forward facing position.

Some other great features of the Britax Advocate: It’s really easy to raise and lower the headrest and shoulder strap by just squeezing a button and pulling it up or pushing it down. The cover, like all my other Britax car seats, is easy to remove and spot clean. (Washing machines can be too rough on the fabric and reduce it’s flame retardancy.) It has some great accessories like a cup holder and a seat guard for spills, diaper leaks, potty accidents, etc. Has anyone else ever had a child have a pee accident in a car seat… Oy! And one more great feature of this seat: it doesn’t expire for 10 years so Josephine will be able to use this seat until she outgrows car seats and maybe we’ll even get to use it for a future little sibling.

After hearing all about these fancy features while munching on wraps and cupcakes, we got to see it demonstrated in a vehicle and then we each got to take one with us. The lovely Britax reps watched us install the car seats, offered help if we needed, and made suggestions to make them as safe as possible for our little ones. All-in-all it was a neat opportunity and I’m really thankful to the Nashville Moms Blog and Britax for allowing me to participate.

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Kate reminding us to read the car seat manual AND your vehicle’s manual because all cars are different (and have different weight limits for their LATCH hooks, for example).


Kelly urging us to register our products so we’re notified if there is ever a recall. Oops… I still haven’t done that.


Some cute little ladies.


Kate demonstrating how to tighten the harness to the point that it clicks. Isn’t that pretty neat how it won’t over-tighten?


Kelly showing how the ClickTight works. The bottom of the seat lifts up and the vehicle seat belt is slid into the slots.


After it’s buckled, pull out all the slack and snap the seat bottom back down. That’s it! And it’s unbelievably tight. (More about how ClickTight works here.)


Princess JoJo heading home in her new throne!


Britax has a sale going on right now called All About Baby Safety Event, up to 25% off.


Sponsored by Britax.


First Day of Kindergarten


Alianna’s first day of kindergarten was August 8. At 5 years old her career goals are to be a mommy, wife and teacher (like mommy).


First day self-portrait and a silly pose:


We’re homeschooling. I’ve been able to do most of the teaching myself the past 3 weeks but as I start back to work at my graphic design job, Jason and I will be doing some tag-teaming with her schooling. We’re working on a curriculum for reading sight words, writing letters and basic math. We also do lots of reading: Bible, poetry, picture books and I also read her novels aloud while she does art projects. She does chores to learn home economics. She gets social interaction with other kids at weekly dance lessons, church Sunday school, as well as at regular field trips and play dates with other homeschool friends. And of course she gets lots of time playing and interacting with her siblings. We’re also starting to add in piano and soon Spanish. So far we are really enjoying this new experience. Ali and I agree that our favorite part is the reading aloud of novels. We’ve finished Charlotte’s Web (which made me cry!), a Junie B Jones book, and now we’re reading the first book of The Bobbsey Twins series. Here are a few highlights from our first few weeks.




Phone Photo Friday





Isaiah as a Big Brother


Isaiah was only 5-months-old when I got pregnant with his baby sister and 14-months-old when she was born. I knew he wouldn’t really be able to understand in advance what it would mean to become a big brother so I spent many nights praying over him as I rocked him before bed, asking God to give him grace, patience, gentleness and understanding; and to help him be a loving and protective brother. We had a few incidents early on with too rough of a snuggle, an accidental toy clunk or a curious eye poke, but all-in-all he’s really done great with the transition to big brother. Now that it’s been 7 weeks I can confidently say that he (at 16 months old) really loves his baby sister, just as he does his big sister. When Josephine cries or if he’s looking for her, he calls, “Baby!” He brings her/me her pacifier or blanket. He gives her sweet gentle kisses on the head many times a day. He calls her “DohDoh” or “Doh.” I’m thankful God answered my prayer. I had prayed a lot for Ali and Zay’s relationship before he was born. I was concerned that 4 years might be too big of a gap for a sister and brother to be good friends but God answered my prayer then, too. They’re sweet playmates most of the time and love each other dearly. I’m so thankful for each of my kids and it brings me even more joy to watch their relationships grow and develop.

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