Every family has a story to tell. Welcome to ours.

Fueling up at the Fountain Center

Fueling up with
Around the time of the 17th century, villages and towns in Europe were typically based around a central hub. Many times this would be around the town fountain (fed by a local spring). A place where people could go and meet to either catch up on the happenings, buy local goods, have a shindig, or just wash their laundry. In some cases, they'd take part in impromptu musicals about strangely independent and educated girls who people don’t quite understand, far-off enchanted castles, beastly boyfriends and jealous village jocks.

Embracing Genetics, Generations and a little bit of Grief

We've been keeping stuff light here on the blog lately, trying to focus on a bunch of our travels and renovations and other fun happenings. Behind the scenes, though, I'll admit that things have been a bit rough. I was diagnosed with a genetic disorder last year that's thrown me for kind of a loop. It's nothing that can't be handled - more or less - with proper treatment, but it appears to be the root cause of an unexplained miscarriage and thyroid issues and other various disorders that have stymied my doctors in the past.

How to be the Rockstar Mom at your Kids’ School

Back-to-school tradition
I had this friend in grade school whose mom was pretty much the best. We all thought so. When she volunteered for field trips, we collectively clamored to be assigned to her since those kids were guaranteed to have the most fun. Another one of my friend's parents used to bring their pet Beagle to school at lunchtime, and he quickly became the unofficial mascot. Then there was the dad with all the cool arts and crafts stuff! I want to be THAT parent. Problem is, I'm a little short on time.

17 Unique Ways to Have Fun in the Water with Baby

Water baby
We all know that it's important to introduce baby to water early on so they get comfortable and learn to swim at an early age, but sometimes parents are stumped about how to do that if they don't have a pool or tub. Never fear! There are tons of ways to make waves. Try a sink soak, play around with a faucet or seek out one of the water features available at local parks. We love taking our boys to creeks and streams here in California. The kids have a blast, and it's a great way to teach them about water movement and safety.

What to Pack for your Child’s First Sleepover

First sleepover
Sidekick recently graduated from his old preschool class and had to leave one of his best friends behind! He’s been begging to meet up with him all summer, so I finally arranged a little slumber party playdate.

Setting up an Educational Tablet you AND your Kids will Love

Educational tablet
My oldest son is required to have a tablet for 1st grade. The school has some available for loan, but our district apps can run on any platform so I prefer to get our own. That way, we can keep track of what's going on with it and maximize the use of this educational tablet!

This Stroller does ALL the Things

Graco RoomFor2 stroller
Some of you spotted this stroller in our infant car seat post and asked about it. I've been eager to share the gadget that's been helping us survive with four kids 6 and under!Our sponsor Graco sent over the RoomFor2 Stroller at the beginning of the summer, and we've had a chance to test it everywhere from theme parks to...

What to Buy for Transitional Kindergarten or Pre-K

Transitional Kindergarten
My 4-year-old is going into Transitional Kindergarten in a week. Cue the dramatic mom tears! Actually, as a former elementary school teacher, I'm thrilled with the idea. Schwarzenegger signed the Kindergarten Readiness Act into law in California in 2010, changing the enrollment date so that all kids would be at least 5 when they enter school here. The law also created Transitional Kindergarten (or 'TK,' which is often called Pre-K or PK in other states) to bridge the gap between preschool and kindergarten for students whose birthdays fall just short of the cutoff date. The idea is that older 4-year-olds need more mental stimulation than a typical preschool or daycare might provide, but they aren't ready for the full structure of kindergarten.

Our 4-Year-Old’s Self-Reliant Nighttime Routine

Self-reliant nighttime routine
I've talked a lot about nighttime routines recently. Having a well-defined evening routine and reliant bedtime is one of the things that helps keep me sane as a parent. I think a lot of us start with the very best intentions, but wind up falling off the nighttime routine wagon and landing in one of two camps: the moms and dads who do everything for their kids at night or the moms and dads who do very little for their kids at night. I remember when I used to babysit, I'd go from a household where a 3-year-old was brushing his own teeth and tucking himself in to a household where a 10-year-old still expected the toothpaste to be smeared on by an adult.

6 Tips for Managing Siblings in the Water

Managing Siblings in the Water
We've been spending just about every day lately at the beach or by the pool. It can be kind of a challenge to keep the whole crew engaged, entertained and safe in the water when you have a spread as we do from ages 6 to infant. Today, we're sharing how we explore water play with siblings of varying ages.