Saturday, January 23, 2016

Purpose of Parenting

I'll preface this with I'm still never sure whether I'm qualified to offer parenting advice, but I guess for some people it's helpful. Christian parents will probably get what I'm trying to say here.
Or maybe--for some of you--this will be a "light bulb moment." I look forward to your comments.

My oldest son is about to turn seven. As I've been reflecting back on the past year, I realized he's matured a lot with trying to control his emotions. He doesn't always automatically jump into tantrum mode over that unfair thing his sister did to him. Often, I can visibly see him seek to control his body or anger when he's upset. That's quite difficult feat for most of us. Though, he's certainly still a typical first-grader.

While all of this maturing is going on, he's also seeking new responsibility and deeper levels of control over his life. He has always been a relatively "go-with-the-flow" kid, but I now see he wants to make more of his own choices about where to go and when, what to watch on television, and who to spend time with.

But, isn't that how all of us are from the time we're born until well into adulthood (or old age)? We're continually learning to do a better job of controlling our feelings...or at least we get a grip on what we do with our feelings. At the same time, we are seeking to have choices about what happens in our own lives for our own happiness, self-satisfaction, or whatever. You could go to California or New York or Indonesia, and it will always be true. That's our natural state-of-being.

As the years go by, though, at some point or another we've realized that our God has our better interest in mind much more than we could ever understand on our own.

Slowly, this shift begins to happen where we acknowledge that, "Hey, maybe making my choices on my own isn't always so simple or so great. And the consequences don't always work out the way I'd like them to. Maybe relying on God is the more favorable way to go here."

The tipping point comes when we realize we've got to rely on God for *everything* to sustain us. We can't blame anyone for how our lives are screwed up. We can't keep longing for fancy stuff that we want and may never have. Satisfaction and true joy come only from reliance on Christ. Even when truly terrible things happen to us, we can still have joy in Him.

Back to parenting.
So, when we're raising our kids we worry about them a lot, right? We worry whether they'll be able navigate the world without us. We worry whether they'll be able to make the right choices without us.
(By the way, all this worrying stuff doesn't make a lick of sense, so just stop it!)
What are we supposed to do?

We try to teach them about playing nice, following the rules, being respectful, and good hygiene. To what end? Does telling them all that stuff--or even modeling it for them--make them a productive member of society? Does it give them happiness? Does it give them real, true, deep-down-where-it-counts kind of joy?

We might even try to teach them to pray and read their Bibles. Good job, if you're doing that, since that's where the real answers are! But a lot of them will fall away. They'll fall away from the church or from God altogether...
If they're not grounded in relying on Christ for everything to sustain them.

So, parenting is not about teaching our kids to read and eat their vegetables and saying NO to drugs. It's not about pandering to their every whim or teaching them to suck it up so they can be independent from Mommy and Daddy. Parenting isn't even about teaching our kids to love one another (though, I think that one is of the utmost importance).

Parenting is about the shift...the shift from being dependent on Mom or Dad to being totally dependent on God. It is moving the child from relying on us to  relying on Christ.

None of us will ever be able to get to a point where we have total control over our actions, our emotions, or making wise choices. Not in this life on this Earth.

But God

But God has us. He's got our backs, Parents.

He's got our kids' backs. He loves 'em way more than we do. Infinitely more than we ever could.

Our kids are going to make tons of crazy mistakes (just like we do, ahem). They'll follow the whims of their fleeting emotions without realizing the consequences of their actions. They will have days when they get into big BIG trouble.

But. If we have modeled for them that we are totally, utterly, unashamedly, dependent upon our Creator for our very breath

they'll come to Him.

They'll remember the times you were having the worst days and you cried out aloud to God to come rescue you. They'll remember that you didn't always act like you were the final authority on every. single. thing. I hope my kids remember that I even ask for forgiveness. A lot.

Yes, we should continue to parent in a manner that warrants our children's respect. I'm not saying you ought to look like a weakling, but in the grand scheme of the Universe we acknowledge that we are all so frail.

I hope my soon-to-be-seven-year-old will learn to love the Lord our God with everything that's in him. I hope he'll learn to love others and be passionate about relationships with other human beings. I certainly hope he'll learn how to eat right, use his manners, and run a household all by himself. I even hope he'll have a satisfying career in some field that I probably can't even dream up yet. But--above all else--I have to constantly remind myself that life is fleeting
none of this stuff matters
in the light of the One True Eternal Thing.

So, take heart, weary parents. God entrusted you with caring for these young ones, but he also trusts you. God trusts you. I'll let that sink in for a minute.

Let the little ones rely on you for now.
Just do your best to love them,
be real with them,
and model for the kids how you rely on God.

(Hopefully you're not worrying about it. I told you to knock that worrying stuff off! There's nothing you could do that could screw them up so bad that God can't redeem it, right?)

I will leave you with this song about being the example you need to be.

"...Let them see You in me let them hear You when I speak
Let them feel You when I sing
Let them see You, let them see You in me

Who am I with out Your grace, another smile another face
Another breath a grain of sand passing quickly through Your hand
I give my life an offering take it all take everything..."

- Let Them See You by JJ Weeks Band


Friday, November 13, 2015

The best reasons to keep the house clean, tidy, uncluttered. It's not housekeeping, it's homemaking.

For the 2015 New Year, I resolved that I would teach my kids to pick up after themselves. Well, unlike a lot of NY resolutions, I actually worked tirelessly on this one every single day through all of 2015.

We came a long way and made a lot of progress, but are still nowhere near where I would like to be. Where would I like to be? I would like for them to pick up after themselves as though they were adult tenants renting a room in my home. When does that happen? Never? Oh, okay. Haha.

Here's what I -- as the mommy -- learned from the experience...

1. Different kids (And adults!) have different personalities ranging everywhere from the kid who needs orderliness to the kid who doesn't give a scrap. We need to show love to each other by understanding this fact about each other.

2. I don't like picking up all by myself, so why would they? So much more fun when we just decide to help each other and do it together. Many hands make light work (even if Mommy has to do the lion's share).

3. Throw something away or let something get destroyed once in a while to keep them on their toes. Hard lessons stick better than just yelling. Older kids can be old enough to be frustrated that they can't wear their favorite shirt because they didn't put it in the laundry. ;)

4. Get rid of stuff. Just have less stuff. Less to put away! Children who learn to hold loosely to material things may be better off, since relationships are the most important thing.
5. Last, but not least, I will not rip my hair out running around like a chicken with my head cut off to please people trying to make my house look ready for Better Homes & Gardens. 
My house is still really messy a lot of the time! But, we are learning what rhythms and rules work for our family right now. There's lots of room for more growth in the coming year!

Saturday, July 25, 2015

The Humble Receiving Blanket: 15 (Surprising) Alternative Uses

If someone had asked me before I had kids what a receiving blanket is, I would not have had a good answer.
A few years into parenthood, asked the same question I would have said it is something for swaddling baby.
Today, I would have a different answer: say it is not all that great for swaddling but still a very useful tool!

Wait...Why isn't it good for swaddling?
Okay, it works great for swaddling a very tiny newborn OR for a bigger newborn if you have larger receiving blankets. Standard flannel receiving blankets are really small! Too small to get a really good swaddle, in my experience. I wish manufacturers would figure this out and stop taking advantage of my inability to remember what's a good swaddle size.

Different sizes of receiving blankets: the green one is gauze, the blue one is heavier cotton, the flannel print one on top is the type and size that I typically find in the baby aisle.

The standard flannel receiving blanket is very warm. Babies can overheat in a warm room or while being held by a warm body. Just be aware of your baby--feel the temperature on the back of his neck. If you want to keep your baby's temperature warm yet stable, the absolute best way to do this is to take your shirt off and your baby's shirt off and hold him against you! Which brings me to our first alternative use...

#1 Skin to Skin and Increasing Breastmilk Supply
Hold your newborn baby against your chest with her skin touching yours. Put the swaddling blanket over both of you. Breathe easy. Now your newborn's vital signs will regulate perfectly. This skin-to-skin contact can work at any stage for mothers re-establishing breastmilk supply.

Gauze swaddling blankets (made from a light woven cotton) tend to be bigger. They are also much more breathable. Use these to achieve the desired snugness with swaddling without worry of overheating your little one.

#2 Positioning a Baby in a Carrier
When you wear your baby, do you feel that she needs a little lift?
A rolled up receiving blanket can lift a very tiny baby just enough to make it safer for him. It can also lift a larger baby's legs into the the proper M shape to be ergonomic for him.

Experiment with different ways of folding the blanket and rolling it tightly. Folding it different widths lengthwise...
Roll the receiving blanket tight!
#3 Neck Roll
A tightly-rolled receiving blanket in place of squishy, after-market products for the swing, bouncer, or car seat.
This baby's head will not flop to the side with a tightly rolled-up receiving blanket placed on either side.
#4 and #5 Changing Mat and Wipes
Use the blanket as a changing mat that will absorb any stray urine or poo long enough to return home and wash (rather than spilling the urine on baby as the vinyl changing mats tend to do).

I have taken some of my receiving blankets sewn together two layers thick, turned inside out, then top-stitched to make a thicker a pad. I left an opening so that it can be turned inside out if desired.

Cut a blanket into squares. Serge or zig-zag stitch along the edges to prevent fraying.
Economical, reusable, super-absorbent wipes for faces & hands or lil bottoms! Just add water. I place mine on a plate and squirt them using a re-usable condiment bottle from the kitchen. You can also place them in a small plastic tub and fill with water. Essential oils can prevent any mildew. Adding a small amount of oil and liquid soap to the water will make wipes glide and wash across Baby's skin.

Here, I've placed a towel and a flannel blanket on a dresser for use as a changing table at home. Flannel makes great cloth wipes.

In our family, the solid "pink" side goes on the public changing table or the ground. The "print" side with flowers is where the baby goes. Then I fold the solid pink "germy" side in on itself before returning the mat to my diaper bag. This one has an opening and can be turned inside out in case it gets really dirty.

#6 Diaper?!
Use one as a cloth diaper in a pinch. One mom even sewed hers into re-usable cloth diapers, because hey, flannel is absorbent!

#7 Lovey
Offer a flannel receiving blanket as his lovey when going through the "separation anxiety" stage.

#8 A Cape!
Preschoolers love to pretend they are super-hero capes

#9 Blanket for a Baby Doll

#10 Crumb-Catcher
Place a flat one under the car seat in the car or under the high chair in the kitchen

#11 Blanket Games
A small receiving blanket can be great for blanket games when you're waiting with a bored child in a public place. Peek-a-boo, or even games for older kids...

#12 For Bed-sharing Families
A receiving blanket or two laid flat as a pad under a mother and baby who are breastfeeding can help catch any extra breastmilk dribbles (I recommend pre-fold cloth diapers or a leak-proof barrier for heavy leakers).
You can also lift the blanket to transfer sleeping Baby to the bassinet with less likelihood of disturbing her.

#13 Sleep Positioner
In general, I don't advise using any kind of sleep positioning devices. However, if you simply must position a baby (to keep from rolling over or to keep him on his side, etc.), a rolled blanket placed UNDER THE FITTED SHEET is probably the safest way to do so.

#14 Bassinet Prop
Perhaps your baby has reflux or cannot sleep well on a flat surface. You can raise one end of the crib/cot/bassinet slightly by using rolled up blankets as risers on the mattress or under the legs. Slowly remove them over time decreasing the angle until she is comfortable sleeping flat.

#15 Burp Cloth
Your baby will probably spit up on it anyway, so why not fold in half as a comfy, absorbent burp cloth?

Beyond that...what about...
...shoving one under a drafty door?
...stashing them in the car for use as an easy-to-carry sit-upon while you're at the park or a ball game?
...up-cycle two into a pillow case? or cut into squares and up-cycle as a quilt? or crochet a border for ...use as a table cloth or table runner?
...use in place of baby towels at bath time?

And finally, before you really have to throw them out, use them as rags for dirty jobs.
If you have an idea for more ways to use these handy little cloths, please share in the comments!
I am also sharing about the birth of my third child on my other blog today. Be sure to go check it out!

P.S. One more hint: cloth diapers can also be used for many of the ideas listed above!

Friday, April 18, 2014

A Short Post About Zombies

Zombies are a big thing in pop culture right now. My kids know all about zombies.

This morning, I used it as an opportunity to explain to my son that when Jesus rose from the dead, he didn't come back like a zombie.

"The Romans hammered sharp, spiky nails through Jesus' wrists to nail him on a big cross (or maybe a tree, we're not sure). And they hung him up like that, and it killed him."

"Then he rose from the dead!" my son says.

Yep! He didn't come back as a brain-dead creature, though, he came back to life for real, as God's son!
That's part of why we worship him.

I know some of you that follow me on my blog or facebook get annoyed about how much I talk about "Christianity" and how I "indoctrinate" my kids.

I do not believe that I should keep my faith a secret to myself.

Not after all the healing and wonderful things Jesus has done to transform my life! If I say I believe that Jesus is the answer to all of life's questions and the way be saved from separation from God with eternal life...
...then how sick and twisted would it be to keep that to myself?
(Not to mention completely contradictory to what Jesus told us to do)

Thanks for reading; that's all I needed to say for now.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Why I quit the church, and then came back

I had been turned off by the church. Let me rephrase that: I had been very turned off by the church. I would go so far as to say I hated anything to do with my church. It had been that way for so long, I couldn't even remember when it started. I guess it must have been when I was quite young. The church my family attended when I was growing up wasn't exactly kid-friendly. And no one could give me a satisfactory about why I had to be there every week for that painfully boring hour. At least not in a way a kid could understand.

And so I decided I was an Atheist.

Despite pressure from family members, I was a self-proclaimed atheist starting from about 5th grade on.

People who know me today know that I am very actively involved in my church, and I make my kids go every week (and they love it!). I also really advocate for people to be involved in a faith community.

So, what changed?

Let's go back to my junior year of high school. I was quite taken with a particular boy. Yes, I had a crush (years from now my kids will read this and think, "Ew"!). Anyway, this guy was a Christian who took his faith seriously, so he invited me to attend the Wednesday night youth group at his church with him. I think I probably made up excuses and expressed disinterest at his first invitations, but eventually gave in just so I could spend time with him.

I still remember those first few visits to that church--how completely different and refreshing they were. The kids who attended that Wednesday night youth group were not at all like the teenagers at my family's church. I walked in feeling alone and out of place, but they immediately gave me a warm welcome with open arms. A few girls in particular made me feel like we were best buds right off the bat. The students were even excited about being actively involved in leading this group. A few of them led us in singing pop worship songs--a great departure from any kind of church music I'd ever heard. And this boy I liked volunteered his time every single week to run the sound booth. The youth pastor was...dare I He wasn't some stuffy, out-of-touch, old guy. He had (gasp!) tattoos and piercings. Most importantly, he was really gifted at connecting with us as teens. These people weren't just there to fulfill some obligatory duty...they were real.

So, I went...and kept going. I started to develop friendships there.

Meanwhile, in my heart and mind I was suffering with a number of things that seemed like the end of the world to my teenage mind. At this particular point in time, I was somewhat depressed. I had always been shy and anxious in social situations, which caused me to be absolutely terrified of my impending doom (by 'doom' I mean moving out of my parents' house to be on my own in every kind of social situation imaginable!). I also remember knowing that if I died, I would go to Hell. Every night, I would lie awake contemplating a way to end my life.

I don't know if I ever would have had the guts to go through with it, but the point is that it brought me to a place of helplessness and humility before God. I was supposed to be Atheist, but I just knew I was going to Hell if I went through with it. Being terrified and uncertain about everything in regards to my future also felt like a personal Hell. So, it was a "damned if I do, damned if I don't" sort of situation.

Attending those Wednesday nights and listening to the youth pastor preach about a relationship with Jesus, I heard the Gospel with listening ears for the first time...God broke me.
I mean that in a good way.

I arrived at a point of desperation where one night when that young boy was dropping me off at my house, I told him "I think I've decided I want to be a Christian".

That night, I made a deal with God. (Yes, I know you're not supposed to make 'deals' with God! Yes, people, I know I said I didn't believe in God, but this was how it happened, okay?)

I told God that if He would show me He is real, I would believe in Him.

I'm here to today, and I am telling you: He is Real. Believe in Him.

I thought that the night I accepted Jesus into my heart was the start of my faith journey. I thought that was when God found me. Looking back on it now, I see that God was working on me through my whole life. He was always there, I just hadn't been willing to accept it yet--I was the one who walked away from Him.

I could list for you many times that God's answered my prayers and proven his faithfulness, but the transformation I've gone through is testimony enough. I immediately began to sense the Holy Spirit come into my life and change me--healing me from my social anxiety. Giving me hope about the future that I thought was so dark.

I know how corny this sounds, but with Jesus in my life, I am filled with a hope and joy I never knew before. I can see what was so different about the kids in that youth group (most of whom remain my dearest friends to this day). The difference was they had said,"Yes" to Jesus, and Holy Spirit had come into their lives and changed them. When Jesus lives in you, you become a new creation. You get a fresh start. You don't instantly become perfect, that's for sure. But, you get to join the community of people that are getting closer their Creator and are learning to love each other.

Now, I don't want the message here to be that you need to accept Jesus out of fear--because you're afraid of going to Hell (though, I do believe that Jesus is the only way to escape Hell). True faith is not borne out of fear. Fear of condemnation is part of what led me to faith, in my case, but faith became real when I became certain that Jesus loves me and I want to love him.

One final note about church: I know a lot of people say they stay away from church because it is "full of hypocrites." My pastor recently spoke on this sentiment and reminded us that the golf course, the grocery store, and every other place is full of hypocrites, but we don't avoid those places. I'd rather spend a few years in church with them and have eternal life, than to spend all eternity with them & separated from God.

Here's what you need to know if you're wondering if your faith is real:

"For all have sinned and fall short of God's glorious standard." (Romans 3.23) 
"For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 6.23) 
Yet, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish, but have eternal life. God did not send his Son into the world to condemn it, but to save it. There is no judgment awaiting those who trust him. But those who do not trust in him have already been judged for not believing in the only Son of God." (John 3.16-18) 
"God saved you by his special favor when you believed. And you can't take credit for this; it is a gift from God." (Ephesians 2.8-9) 
And Jesus' final command he gave to his followers, "Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone, everywhere. Anyone who believes and is baptized will be saved." (Mark 16.15)

I look forward to your comments

Monday, March 24, 2014

Custom chair slip cover in a day

Custom chair slipcover in a day; yes please and thank you...

Sometimes it's a great debate about whether to buy something new or to go through the effort to make it myself. This was one of  those times when I decided to put the time into something homemade.
 I bought this chair about 5 years ago at a yard sale, and it has been so well-loved the vinyl began to tear away. I debated for a long time about whether to toss & replace the chair, reupholster it, or simply cover it up. Duct tape can only hold for so long.
 A new chair like this would run me $90 - $300; I figured let's see what $60 and an afternoon with the sewing machine can do.
  Not too shabby, if I do say so myself.
  Sorry, no tutorial about how I made this one. This is my third attempt at a custom slip cover, so I'm not confident enough to offer advice. Let it suffice to say that a pattern was cut from tissue paper, followed by lots of pinning and unpinning to get it right.
   This will make a cozy spot in our office for study or prayer time.
  And it turns out that I had a lot of fabric left over, so we'll be able to make something else to match!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

On Babywearing and Corrie ten Boom

As a babywearing mom, I really appreciated coming across this little gem during my devotional time this morning. I've been reading Corrie ten Boom's book Tramp for the Lord which she wrote about her life & travels and her relationship with the Lord. In a chapter entitled, "A Place to Be, " she is telling the reader about how the Lord has a place just for us.

"I was born prematurely and my skin was blue. Uncle Hendrik, Tante Jan's husband, looked at me and exclaimed, 'I hope the Lord will quickly take this little creature to His home  in Heaven.'...But my parents surrounded me with love and care. However, since there were no incubators in those early days, I cried much from the cold. Tante Anna, knowing I missed the warmth of the special place under my mother's heart from which I had come, rolled me in her apron and tied me against her stomach. There I was warm and quiet."

"Many years later I was in a primitive house in Africa...Walking into the kitchen, I saw an African woman with the white missionary child strapped tightly to her back....'Hey, how nice she has your baby on her back,' I said to the missionary mother....The white mother smiled and said, 'The baby was so fearful this morning. All she would do was cry. When the African cook came to the house she took one look at the baby, and said, "'Ah, misseee, give me the baby. I will keep her quiet." So she strapped her on her back and the baby has slept all morning while the cook has been busy around the kitchen.'"

...."In all these years that I have been a 'tramp for the Lord,' I have often been afraid. But, in those moments I have always reached up and touched the hem of Jesus' garment. He has never failed to wrap me close to Him. Yet, I still long for that time when I shall have a mansion in Heaven."

Babywearing parents might giggle a little about the apron. Corrie ten Boom was a Dutch woman born in 1892 at a time when babywearing was at low point--it just wasn't done much in Western culture. I'm certain that she must have seen many mothers wearing their babies throughout her travels all over the world. And I'm certainly glad that babywearing is "in vogue" again in the U.S.

What a wonderful picture of our Father God.

Parents who wear their babies regularly know how soothing it is for the child. Wearing a newborn on your chest has been shown to regulate a baby's heartbeat and temperature. Babies who are worn by their parents...they simply cry less! And I believe with all my heart that Jesus has a place just like that for us. We can place ourselves tightly against the very heart of God--a place we can go to whenever we call upon him in prayer--and he will calm us.

P.S. I highly recommend Tramp for the Lord by Corrie ten Boom.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Help with Organizing: Instructions, Product Warranties, and Receipts

If you're like me, you've struggled with what to do about all those instructions, warranties, and receipts that came with the important items in your home.
Have you ever thrown them out, only to have problems with the product down the road?
Find yourself wishing you had not tossed that warranty into the recycle bin?
Fumbling with your digital camera and can't get the settings right without the owner's manual?
Have you actually held on to all those papers, but they're cluttering up your home & you never know where to find them?!

Here's the inexpensive solution we've been using at our house for about 3 years, and it has worked rather well for us.

File bin or filing cabinet
Manila file folders
Hanging files
Plastic food storage bags (quart or gallon)
Felt tip pen

We put all the important papers related to products we own, as well as backup software discs and receipts for the really important stuff in a file bin. These files can be organized & labeled by the room you keep the item in, what type of product it is, or you can even have a separate folder labeled for each item and alphabetize them.

Here's how we've organized our bin:
Camping and Recreation Gear
Baby Gear
Pet Gear
Kitchen Tools/Cookware
Kitchen Appliances
Other Small Appliances
Computer and Software
Computer Accessories
Other Small Electronics

You can label some folders this way and start using this system at your house for the cost of a quick trip to the dollar store!
Choose to specify your folders however you like specific to your situation. For example, if you have a large collection of firearms, you might sort them by pistols, shotguns, and rifles. (By the way, it is important to have written down somewhere the serial numbers in case of theft).

Staple receipts and product warranties that go with the same item together. Plastic storage bags are good if you have a tiny part, disc, or tiny slip of paper that you need to hang on to. These can also be labeled with a felt tip pen.

It's a good idea to photocopy receipts onto a standard sheet of paper, but since manufacturers may require an original receipt in order to service or replace your product you should staple them together and keep both.

Consider carefully what should and should not go in your bin, so you do not hold on to mere clutter. Do you really need to save the instructions for that basic $9 drip coffee maker that does not even boast an auto function or clock? You may not need to save a warranty for an item that was very inexpensive to begin with, if you're sure you would not try to contact the manufacturer if it were to break. Remember, the point is try to clear your home of clutter.

Examples of some other things that should not go in this bin might include instructions for using your jumper cables (unless you're a mechanic, keep them in the car!), or instructions for setting up your tent (keep it with the tent!).

This system should work well for most households, but only if you maintain it.
  • Put the instructions in the file as soon as you've finished using them. 
  • Clean out the file bin at least once year, tossing anything that goes with...say...and appliance you no longer own. I try to clean out all my files between the New Year and tax season.
Now, hopefully next time the washing machine breaks down, or you need to re-program your remote, you'll know just where to look.

A place for everything, and everything in it's place. Now doesn't that feel better? Good luck, y'all!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Will a Britax Roundabout 55 fit in my 2009 Honda Fit?

Short answer: Yes!

Now for a brief review of the Britax Roundabout 55.

After wrestling & fighting with our current convertible child restraint (an Alpha Omega Elite I bought in 2009) and scraping up my hands every time to install it with the vehicle seat belt (the LATCH anchors no longer maintained tension), I broke down and decided we need a new car seat for my daughter. If it can't be installed properly, don't use it.

I looked at reviews online (mainly on Amazon) and took advice from friends. I narrowed it down to these three: Graco MyRide 65, Chicco NextFit, or Britax Roundabout 55. I ended up picking the Roundabout, because there wasn't anything in the consumer reviews about it not fitting in a smaller vehicle. Even though we're thinking about getting a bigger car, I wanted to be absolutely certain I would have no trouble at all getting this in our current car or in a friend's car when we travel. Other key factors were: desired to keep my 2 yr old rear-facing, brand trustworthiness, price, styling, height/weight fit, ease-of-installation, and type of anchor mechanism.

The Britax arrived in the mail today, and installation was a breeze compared to our old Alpha Omega. I'm very satisfied. My daughter couldn't wait to get in and try it out. With the Roundabout rear-facing, I can actually move the front seat aaaaall the way back without interfering with the child restraint! Before, we had to move it up so there was only just enough room for an adult to sit up front.

 The LATCH anchor mechanisms are the type with a button up top, so I don't have to dig to depress the anchor.

See that metal bar under the shell of the seat? 
This seat has a bar upon which the LATCH tethers simply slide up/down, 
so when it's time to switch to forward-facing, I won't have to re-thread the belt path.


 Here it is: all installed in our '09 Honda Fit! It will work great, even  with my 6' 2" husband in the front seat. I hope this seat works out for us, because it's SO much easier to use!
(P.S. It comes in different colors, too!
P.P.S. Made in the USA!)

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Upcycling a Crib into a Light (Tracing) Table

This crib/toddler bed was picked up at a garage sale for $5. We got our use out of it, then I was able to turn it into a light table for tracing, as well a place to stash my paper. I do a lot of tracing for craft projects, so this was a great way for me to keep an old crib out of the landfill a while longer (and save a bunch of money with not having to purchase a light table from an art supply dealer). 
If you're handy, you can make one, too!
 I cut one of the side rails in half. I made it into a pyramid shape. You could staple canvas or almost any sturdy material here, or use real hinges.

 Once my straps were on, I adjusted the length so it would stand at just the right height.
 Here it is with the pads of sketch paper. 
This could be fitted with tiny hooks or pegs to hold ribbon, thread, bobbins, 
or even mounted to the wall.

 I put an old TV tray under the glass to hold my lamp, but you could come up with infinite possibilities and types of lighting solutions.
 Using pliers to bend the hook parts, I removed the "springs" from the old bed spring; I found a piece of glass the right size and cut a piece of wood to fit into the frame of the bed spring. 
I mounted it at and angle with screws and wire ties for a temporary fix, 
but with the right hardware, it could be made to be adjustable to any height/angle.
 I love using this, and it cost me pretty much $0!