Dear Jack: You’re Halfway to Age 16!

8 years.

Dear Jack,

It’s taken me a few weeks since your recent 8th birthday to realize:

You’re halfway to being age 16. More specifically, you’re halfway there to being able to have a driver’s license.

Mommy and I were talking about it this week.

As we are really focused on investing our money beyond what we are already saving, we were discussing your college and our retirement.

But then Mommy reminded me, “Jack will be driving in 8 years, too. He’s going to need a car.”

I have a feeling that these next 8 years will pass by quicker than the first eight. I wonder what you’re first car will be?

If I’m lucky, you can have my 2004 Honda that I’m driving now so that I can finally get an upgrade.



How to Make Your Family Car Last Longer: Guest Blog Post from Peter of Voice Boks

Having a car is like having another family member – it may not need as much care as a newborn, but it still requires lots of attention. And unless you want to change cars at the end of each year – most of us can’t even dream about it – you need to put in some time and effort into it. Luckily, you won’t have to spend a fortune on regular car maintenance, but if you come up with a viable and sustainable plan, your car will definitely last longer than it would otherwise. Only with proper care can you make the most of your family car, so here are a couple of ways to improve its lifespan significantly.

Clean it regularly

Car hygiene might not sound like the most important thing in the world and most people don’t even clean their cars as often as they should, but it’s definitely one of the things that will make it run longer. The reason for this is corrosion – a simple chemical process that occurs naturally in a car without us even noticing it.

Corrosion is the biggest threat to any car’s health, particularly when it comes to older models, and a continual exposure to water, dirt and snow will speed things up quite a lot. That’s why washing your car is crucial because it not only minimizes corrosion, but also lets you realize whether certain parts of the car are covered in rust. So, hit the nearest carwash or do it on your own – but don’t forget to include the kids, as well!

No more pedal to the metal

Driving a fast car is every man’s fantasy, but if you’re driving a family car, you probably have other priorities in mind. Going 100 miles an hour sounds like a lot of fun, but not when your kids are screaming in the back seat, scared to death. Therefore, put your racing days behind you and slow down when driving your family – it’s not only a safer, but a smarter way to drive.

Whether you’re stuck in traffic or driving on a highway, it’s your job to be somewhere as soon as possible, especially if you’re late for a parent-teacher conference or a football practice. However, if you’re always pushing your car too hard, you’re putting it under an immense amount of pressure and even the most resilient and trustworthy models, such as the amazing 2004 Honda Element, won’t enjoy this. So, take it easy, don’t rush and keep your kids’ and your car’s safety in mind.

Hot and cold

Proper temperature regulation isn’t at the top of everyone’s priority list when it comes to everyday driving, but it should be, particularly when you’re starting a longer drive or planning a road trip with your family. And since most road trips take place in the summer, driving somewhere with your kids without a working A/C makes absolutely no sense. But, there’s more to it than comfort.

There are two huge problems a faulty A/C can cause – an expensive repair that’s going to make your mechanic several hundreds of dollars richer, or, alternatively, a complete engine meltdown, which is an even worse scenario. People who don’t check and repair their cooling systems from time to time are more susceptible to breakdowns, so try to prevent these problems by avoiding potentially dangerous situations and maintaining your cooling system on a regular basis.

Regular checkup

Speaking of proper maintenance, don’t forget to have your car checked by a professional regularly. Even though you can do some of the simpler things on your own – checking the water level, replacing the oil, making sure there’s enough windshield washer fluid, inflating your tires, etc. – you should definitely find a great mechanic who’ll be in charge of your car’s maintenance. And if you manage to find one with some extra experience in family cars, even better!

Maintaining your car can have a couple of surprising benefits, too – you’ll feel safer knowing there’s nothing wrong, while your kids can be sure daddy’s always going to be there to drive them wherever they need to go. The only problem you may have is a lack of time – if you work all day long and try to spend some quality time with your family during the weekend, you won’t have enough time to take your car to a mechanic. That’s why more and more people contact a reliable mobile mechanic who can come to your home, do the checkup and fix whatever needs to be fixed right in your garage!

Other ideas

Some of the other ways to make sure your car is reaching its full potential include packing less weight in the trunk, parking it in the garage during the winter, driving more smoothly than usual and replacing tires as soon as you notice signs of wearing.

Peter is a parenting and lifestyle writer for Voice Boks magazine. Follow Peter on Twitter for more tips.

Dear Holly: Our Family’s 1st Ride Together in the Same Car (2016 Lexus IS 200t)

2 weeks.

Dear Holly,

Amazingly, it wasn’t until you were exactly 2 weeks old, this past Sunday on Mother’s Day, that we finally rode together as a family of 4; together in the same car.

Dear Holly: Our Family’s 1st Ride in the Same Car (2016 Lexus IS 200t)

With Grandma staying with us for the first week of your life, she stayed home with your brother Jack when Mommy and I needed to take you to the doctor for a check-up.

Dear Holly: Our Family’s 1st Ride in the Same Car (2016 Lexus IS 200t)

But finally, our family got to ride in the same car today, as a family of 4, together on Mother’s Day. However, our little road trip wasn’t in one of our old cars.

Dear Holly: Our Family’s 1st Ride in the Same Car (2016 Lexus IS 200t)

Instead, we were graced with a 2016 Lexus IS 200t for this past week! What a way to go for our first family drive. I know you’re new in this world, but a Lexus is a very, very nice luxury brand with quite a reputation.

Dear Holly: Our Family’s 1st Ride in the Same Car (2016 Lexus IS 200t)

All the guys at my work drooled when they saw me in the parking lot. And I think Mommy had a hard time giving the car back after a week.

Dear Holly: Our Family’s 1st Ride in the Same Car (2016 Lexus IS 200t)

Dear Holly: Our Family’s 1st Ride in the Same Car (2016 Lexus IS 200t)

Last Thursday, Mommy took you in it to get your professional newborn pictures made. She texted me once she got there:

“Love that car! Want a Lexus one day for sure!”


Dear Holly: Our Family’s 1st Ride in the Same Car (2016 Lexus IS 200t)

She also loved getting to take the Lexus IS to go pick up groceries while I stayed home with you and Jack on Saturday morning.

As for Mother’s Day, having received her gifts on Sunday morning, she decided for her official Mother’s Day activity, she simply wanted to go out for a special treat at Jamba Juice, which is 16 miles away. She’s been craving their smoothies since she gave birth to you.

Dear Holly: Our Family’s 1st Ride in the Same Car (2016 Lexus IS 200t)

Your brother Jack decided he wanted a popsicle at Whole Foods right across the street, so Mommy got her Jamba Juice to go and we hung out there at the patio.

My treat was a Strawberry Serenity kombucha. (Yes, that’s what a vegan dad chooses as a “treat”.)


Your treat, as a 2 week old infant, was of course none other than milk.

It was so nice hanging out as a new family of 4,  with treats in hand and sun on our skin.

Dear Holly: Our Family’s 1st Ride in the Same Car (2016 Lexus IS 200t)

And though I can’t be for sure that I can credit the Lexus for this, I do know you slept perfectly in the car the whole way there and the whole way back.



Dear Holly: Our Family’s 1st Ride in the Same Car (2016 Lexus IS 200t)

6 Tips For Driving Safely With Kids In Winter 2013

January 4, 2013 at 10:18 pm , by 

2 years, 1 month.

Dear Jack,

Winter has arrived. Now each morning I must wake up early enough to warm up Mommy’s car and my car, scraping off any ice or snow from the windows and spraying deicer on them as well.

For the past few weeks, I have also been awkwardly strapping you in your car seat, struggling to get the buckle around your big blue puffy coat.

I never felt confident when I was doing that.

So I am grateful for the fortunate coincidence that this week I got an email on behalf of Julie Kleinert, North American Child Safety Technical Lead for General Motors and Kate Carr, President and CEO of Safe Kids Worldwide, asking me to share their Winter Safety Tips for Driving with Little Ones.

As the first tip explains, there is a better way than how I have been doing things. So, lesson learned. This list also brought to my attention some things I wouldn’t have thought about, like watching for sleds or keeping a blanket in the car.

I’m no safety expert, obviously. So I’ll let the pro’s take it from here:

“1. Avoid Bulky Winter Clothes. We know you want your little ones to be warm this winter season, but please don’t strap your child into a car seat with a bulky coat as it can affect the ability of your car seat to do its job.  A bulky coat can compress in a crash and create a loose car seat harness, putting your child at greater risk of injury in the unlikely event of a crash. To properly secure your child, the harness straps must be snug and close to their body.

Make sure your child’s harness is adjusted correctly year-round by using the “pinch test,” which is the best way to make sure your child is secure. First, remove bulky clothing and blankets.  Make sure the harness straps are adjusted to the correct height – they should be at or just below the child’s shoulders when they ride rear-facing, and at or just above the child’s shoulders when they are forward-facing. Then buckle and tighten the harness straps. Place the chest clip at armpit level. Now pinch the strap at your child’s shoulder. If you are unable to pinch any excess webbing, you’re good to go.

2. Ensure Comfort and Safety at the Same Time. So how do you keep your little one warm and safe? Remove bulky coats and snowsuits before putting your child in their car seat or opt for outerwear that is not as heavy like a lightweight fleece or hoodie. To keep your child warm and toasty after you remove the bulky coat, you can use a blanket (or even the removed coat) placed over the tightened car seat harness. It also helps to warm the car up before leaving – those remote car starters are pretty nice and make a great holiday gift.

3. Check your Tailpipe. Before you get in your car, do a quick walk-around and check to make sure your tailpipe is not blocked with snow. A simple check can ensure you won’t have any problems with carbon monoxide, which is dangerous.

4. Prepare for Mother Nature. You never know when you might get stuck in the cold and snow, so always have an emergency bag stocked in your car. Be sure to include necessities like baby food or formula, water, diapers, extra blankets and a spare set of warm clothing. You’ll probably never need it but it’s nice to have just in case.

5. Watch Out for Sleds. One of the great things about snow is the chance to go sledding. And kids will do it anywhere, anytime, often cruising right into the street. That creates one more thing to look for when you’re driving. A few ways to be prepared are to slow down and be especially alert in residential neighborhoods and school zones, turn on your headlights earlier in the day if your car is not equipped with daytime running lamps, and, as always, reduce any distractions inside your car so you can concentrate on the road and your surroundings.

6Buckle Up. This is an “all-weather” tip. We know that when adults wear seat belts, kids wear seat belts. So be a good example and buckle up for every trip.  Your kids are safer in a crash when everyone in the vehicle is buckled up.”





Lowercase Punishment

“Cruel and unusual punishment” is a relative term.

Today as I was driving back to work from my lunch break waiting at a red light at a major intersection consisting of 3-lane roads, there was this guy in a big pick-up truck who basically ran a red light in the midst of a lot of traffic. And I thought, “If only a cop was here to catch him…”.

Then I thought, “What if I had the power to obtain and punish him myself?…” The way I would want to punish him is by annoying him, for his crime of causing a potential wreck that could have affected a lot of people.

What if I could punish him without taking anything away from him? What if I could simply freeze his mind for one nanosecond in real-time, but in his mind, it would be for any amount of time I choose? Like I could freeze him for 20 hours in his mind, and everything he saw in that nanosecond would not move at all, like an annoying skip on a DVD? It would not affect his body or future at all. He would not miss anything.

Think of it this way: Sometimes you’ll wake up from a dream and it feels like you were dreaming for hours, even all night- but in reality, most dreams only last less than a minute. What seemed like hours was only seconds.

Now imagine having the power over someone to control their unconscious state for only a second, but during that fraction of a second, it would feel like however many hours, days, or years as you wanted. But the person’s eyes would be open so they had to look at the same thing during what felt like a long time.

The criminal would not age any faster than the rest of us. But if someone did something very bad, you could freeze their mind for a nanosecond in real time but 30 years in “dream time”. It would kinda be like purgatory, except the criminal couldn’t move around and nothing in sight would move neither. It would bore them out of their mind.  But we couldn’t let this power get into the wrong hands. Good thing I’m not a mad scientist.

For a similar post by the same author, read Capital Punishment, In Theory.

“Help us someone, let us out of here. Living here so long undisturbed, dreaming of the time we were free. So many years ago before for the time when we first heard ‘welcome to the Home by the Sea’. Sit down, sit down as we relive our lives in what we tell you.”
-Genesis/ “Home by the Sea” (1983)

“In the delusionary state, no wonder he’s been feeling strange of late. Nobody here to spoil the view, interfere with my plans…Steady, lads…and easy does it. Don’t frighten him! Here we go…”
-Paul McCartney/ “Mr. Bellamy” (2007)

“Such a mean old man…”
-The Beatles/ “Mean Mr. Mustard” (1969)