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After the family home, an automobile is the second largest purchase most parents make. Many buy their first vehicle hoping it will be around for years to come, but not all models are designed with the present and future in mind. If you want a ride that will be there from the day you bring baby home until long after you’ve handed the keys to your new teen driver, make sure the one you choose adapts to all of family life’s ages and stages.


Baby to tot

Bringing home baby for the first time is an unforgettable moment in a parent’s life. If you haven’t considered buying a family-friendly vehicle before this momentous day, chances are you will soon after the first time you try to get that giant infant seat through a narrow vehicle door while occupied with your most precious cargo. The need for extra space may be the catalyst for embarking on an automobile-buying adventure, but with an infant in tow, there are additional features to keep an eye out for.

  • Maneuvering your baby into the car just got easier with the 2017 Mazda CX-5. Its rear doors open a whopping 80 degrees instead of the standard 74 degrees, which minimizes the daily heaving, tilting, and cussing. Additionally, the Mazda CX-5 comes with a hands-free liftgate that activates via a keyless fob button.
  • The 2017 Chrysler Pacifica does its part with hands-free sliding doors – a big bonus for minivan owners. Drivers simply make a kicking motion under the door and, like magic, it swooshes open. The Pacifica’s hands-free liftgates use this same technology, which is also found in the 2018 VW Atlas and the 2018 Buick Enclave Avenir (due to go on sale this fall).
  • Being a new parent can be exhausting and GMC gets it. Their 2017 Acadia Denali comes equipped with a rear seat reminder, which creates an audible and visible notification that encourages drivers to check the second row before exiting the vehicle. This simple but crucial alert is a weary parent’s best friend and a safety feature that shouldn’t go without consideration.

 

Keyless technology is built into the majority of 2017/2018 vehicles and comes in handy for new and well-seasoned parents when their hands are full with kids or groceries. It lets drivers lock, unlock, and open doors, and in some models, a push of the button can start the car from a distance. It’s certainly something worth asking about before taking an automobile for a test drive.

Tot to teen

Kids grow up fast and parents’ needs change just as quickly. Bassinets give way to toddler beds and back seats get full. While hands-free and pushbutton technologies are great, things like storage, seating, and features that help with the distractions of driving a carload of kids to extracurricular activities take priority.

  • The Chrysler Pacifica, GMC Acadia, Buick Enclave, and VW Atlas all seat seven passengers, and both the Atlas and the Pacifica come with panoramic sunroofs making for a more spacious-feeling ride. If you’re driving carpool for school, then the Atlas’s second row of seating that accommodates three car seats will come in handy, along with its 17-cup holders designed for everything from bottles and sippy cups to big gulps and travel mugs.
  • Cruise control with the stop-and-go function, like the one found in the Mazda CX-5, is handy for soccer parents. Nothing is more dangerous than distraction while on the road, and with a carload of kids, there are plenty of distractions. This feature keeps your vehicle at a safe following distance from other vehicles. It alerts you if it senses your vehicle approaching another too quickly and will even bring you to a stop if necessary.

Other safety features worth asking automobile sales reps about are blind spot and cross traffic alerts as well as collision and lane departure alerts. They’ll help keep you and your passengers safe and offer extra peace of mind when it’s time to hand the keys off to your teen.

Handing over the keys and beyond

When your baby is brand new, it’s hard to imagine that the day will come when you hand the family ride over to them to take for a spin on their own. Knowing that they’re in a car designed to parent them while they are away offers some relief – and there’s plenty of new automobile technology that will do just that.

  • The Pacifica’s KeySense programmable key fob allows parents to put limits on speed and audio volume, mutes the audio when front seatbelts aren’t buckled, and prevents important safety features like collision warning and brake-and-park assist from being disabled.
  • Similarly, the configurable Teen Driver Mode comes standard in the GMC Acadia Denali and helps parents coach their new driver. They can set speed alerts and volume and distance limits, and parents receive a report showing the driver’s performance. On a slightly different note, the Mazda CX-5 comes with traffic sign recognition which recognizes stop, do not enter, and speed limit signs, and projects alerts onto the active driving display located at the driver’s eye level so her focus stays on the road.

New automobiles are always hitting the road, but not every one of them has what it takes to stay with and protect your family as it grows up. Before you invest in your first or next family vehicle, decide which features are most important to you and choose the one that has them all.

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Summer heat has a way of making the house feel smaller, more congested, with less room for the air to circulate. And there's nothing like the heat to make me want to strip down, cool off and lighten my load. So, motivation in three digits, now that school is back in, it's time to do a purge.

Forget the spring clean—who has time for that? Those last few months of the school year are busier than the first. And summer's warm weather entices our family outdoors on the weekends, which doesn't leave much time for re-organizing.

So, I seize the opportunity when my kids are back in school to enter my zone.

I love throwing open every closet and cupboard door, pulling out anything and everything that doesn't fit our bodies or our lives. Each joyless item purged peels off another oppressive layer of "not me" or "not us."

Stuff can obscure what really makes us feel light, capable and competent.

Stuff can stem the flow of what makes our lives work.

With my kids back in school, I am energized, motivated by the thought that I have the space to be in my head with no interruptions. No refereeing. No snacks. No naps… I am tossing. I am folding. I am stacking. I am organizing. I don't worry about having to stop. The neat-freak in me is having a field day.

Passing bedroom doors, ajar and flashing their naughty bits of chaos at me, it's more than I can handle in terms of temptation. I have to be careful, though, because I can get on a roll. Taking to my kids' rooms I tread carefully, always aware that what I think is junk can actually be their treasure.

But I usually have a good sense for what has been abandoned or invisible in plain sight for the lack of movement or the accumulation of dust. Anything that fits the description gets relegated to a box in the garage where it is on standby—in case its absence is noticed and a meltdown has ensued. Crisis averted. Either way, it's a victory.

Oh, it's quiet. So, so quiet. And I can think it all through…

Do we really need all this stuff?

Will my son really notice if I toss all this stuff?

Will my daughter be heartbroken if I donate all this stuff?

Will I really miss this dress I wore three years ago that barely fit my waist then and had me holding in my tummy all night, and that I for sure cannot zip today?

Can we live without it all? All. This. Stuff?

The fall purge always gets me wondering, where in the world does all this stuff come from? So with the beginning of the school year upon us, I vow to create a new mindset to evaluate everything that enters my home from now on, so that there will be so much less stuff.

I vow to really think about objects before they enter my home…

…to evaluate what is really useful,

...to consider when it would be useful,

...to imagine where it would be useful,

...to remember why it may be useful,

…to decide how to use it in more than one way,

... so that all this stuff won't get in the way of what really matters—time and attention for my kids and our lives as a new year reveals more layers of the real stuff—what my kids are made of.

Bring it on.

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In the moments after we give birth, we desperately want to hear our baby cry. In the middle of the night a few months later it's no longer exactly music to our ears, but those cries aren't just telling us that baby needs a night feeding: They're also giving us a hint at what our children may sound like as kindergarteners, and adults.

New research published in the journal Biology Letters suggests the pitch of a 4-month-old's cry predicts the pitch they'll use to ask for more cookies at age five and maybe even later on as adults.

The study saw 2 to 5-month olds recorded while crying. Five years later, the researchers hit record again and chatted with the now speaking children. Their findings, combined with previous work on the subject, suggest it's possible to figure out what a baby's voice will sound like later in life, and that the pitch of our adult voices may be traceable back to the time we spend in utero. Further studies are needed, but scientists are very interested in how factors before birth can impact decades later.

"In utero, you have a lot of different things that can alter and impact your life — not only as a baby, but also at an adult stage," one of the authors of the study, Nicolas Mathevon, told the New York Times.

The New York Times also spoke with Carolyn Hodges, an assistant professor of anthropology at Boston University who was not involved in the study. According to Hodges, while voice pitch may not seem like a big deal, it impacts how we perceive people in very real ways.

Voice pitch is a factor in how attractive we think people are, how trustworthy. But why we find certain pitches more or less appealing isn't known. "There aren't many studies that address these questions, so that makes this research especially intriguing," Hodges said, adding that it "suggests that individual differences in voice pitch may have their origins very, very early in development."

So the pitch of that midnight cry may have been determined months ago, and it may determine part of your child's future, too. There are still so many things we don't know, but as parents we do know one thing: Our babies cries (as much as we don't want to hear them all the time) really are something special.

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For many years, Serena Williams seemed as perfect as a person could be. But now, Serena is a mom. She's imperfect and she's being honest about that and we're so grateful.

On the cover of TIME, Williams owns her imperfection, and in doing so, she gives mothers around the world permission to be as real as she is being.

"Nothing about me right now is perfect," she told TIME. "But I'm perfectly Serena."

The interview sheds light on Williams' recovery from her traumatic birth experience, and how her mental health has been impacted by the challenges she's faced in going from a medical emergency to new motherhood and back to the tennis court all within one year.

"Some days, I cry. I'm really sad. I've had meltdowns. It's been a really tough 11 months," she said.

It would have been easy for Williams to keep her struggles to herself over the last year. She didn't have to tell the world about her life-threatening birth experience, her decision to stop breastfeeding, her maternal mental health, how she missed her daughter's first steps, or any of it. But she did share these experiences, and in doing so she started incredibly powerful conversations on a national stage.

After Serena lost at Wimbledon this summer, she told the mothers watching around the world that she was playing for them. "And I tried," she said through tears. "I look forward to continuing to be back out here and doing what I do best."

In the TIME cover story, what happened before that match, where Williams lost to Angelique Kerber was revealed. TIME reports that Williams checked her phone about 10 minutes before the match, and learned, via Instagram, that the man convicted of fatally shooting her sister Yetunde Price, in 2003 is out on parole.

"I couldn't shake it out of my mind," Serena says. "It was hard because all I think about is her kids," she says. She was playing for all the mothers out there, but she had a specific mother on her mind during that historic match.

Williams' performance at Wimbledon wasn't perfect, and neither is she, as she clearly states on the cover of time. But motherhood isn't perfect either. It's okay to admit that. Thanks, Serena, for showing us how.

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There are some mornings where I wake up and I'm ready for the day. My alarm goes off and I pop out of bed and hum along as I make breakfast before my son wakes up. But then there are days where I just want 10 more minutes to sleep in. Or breakfast feels impossible to make because all our time has run out. Or I just feel overwhelmed and unprepared.

Those are the mornings I stare at the fridge and think, Can someone else just make breakfast, please?

Enter: make-ahead breakfasts. We spoke to the geniuses at Pinterest and they shared their top 10 pins all around this beautiful, planned-ahead treat. Here they are.

(You're welcome, future self.)

1. Make-ahead breakfast enchiladas

www.pinterest.com

Created by Bellyful

I'd make these for dinner, too.

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