Sunday, August 20, 2006

The family table

If I could go back to the time when I was expecting ... and those exciting days of registering for "critical" baby equipment ... there is so much I would tell myself.

For starters, I would say "Don't get the $200.00 Italian infant carrier/carseats that our kids will outgrow in less than 9-months and we will use no more than ten times." Yes, infant carriers are convenient ... but $600.00 invested wisely could grow to $5,500.00 in 18-years. Especially if that money is invested in Proctor & Gamble (Pampers, of course).

I'd give myself the same advice about skipping the $190.00 Italian highchair. "You'll need three of those, and $570.00 would go a lot further in a college fund, then for a highchair the kids will outgrow in less than a year."

Let me just think about that for a moment.

Rather than purchase highchairs and infant carriers - invest that money in the stock market. In 18-years ... we could, theoretically - have $10,000.00. That's a lot more than the $120.00 I was able to "negotiate" from selling our three carseats. And, the amount I'll recover from selling our highchairs ... which are still in the garage. I'm not an economist, but I'd have to say $240.00 as opposed to $10,000.00 is not a very good return on the dollar.

Even if I didn't invest that money and stuck it in a box under my bed ... in 18-years, I'd still have $1,170.00. Right? Yes, provided the kids didn't find the box, open it up, eat all the money, and leave me blaming Charlie that he spent our children's college fund on coffee from Starbucks. The point is, knowing what I know now ... I'd much rather schlep around three infants for a few months and have a week of college paid for in 2022. Or, a year of coffee for Charlie.

Anyway. It's best not to dwell on these things. damn! too late.

When the kids graduated from their bouncy chairs to their high chairs at 8-months, mealtime took on a whole new dynamic. We sold our table that we'd bought the first year of marriage, and lined up all three babies in highchairs across our kitchen. There was no way our kitchen was big enough to fit a 2-person table AND three highchairs, so Charlie and I would lie sit on the couch to eat dinner.

One of the items we did receive from our baby registry - that has been a fantastic gift - were the Fisher Price Healthy Care Booster Seats. These are small, compact, and easy to clean. All of these characteristics are a plus, plus, plus in my book. Up until a few months ago, the only time we used our booster seats was when we were traveling. When we weren't jet setting across the country - these $22.00 space saving/time saving/money saving gems - were tucked in our garage.

In May, we went out to dinner with the babies. As we were all sitting around the table together, Charlie and I noted that at some point - hopefully in the near future - it would be great if we could start eating together as a family.

Of course the first thing we'd need is a table. Unless we wanted to roll the kid's highchairs in to the family room so they could sit with us in their diapers during mealtime while we ate off of our TV dinner trays and watched "Ernest Goes To Jail".

Because we are really good at buying things (and would much prefer to purchase things we don't need than have Proctor & Gamble stock) ... Charlie and I loaded the kids up and went out on a sunny Saturday afternoon looking at new tables.

After four stores and only a moderate amount of screaming, we found a beauty. The table that we ultimately purchased, is 38-inches high and ~6-inches taller than a *standard* table. It has six chairs, and a butterfly leaf - which means the leaf stays inside the table when you fold it. and is one less thing I'll have to find room to store in our incredibly shrinking house

The table was delivered, the highchairs were traded for the booster chairs in the garage (because I wasn't fully prepared to just give up our highchairs, that's a big step, you know?) and we began eating as a family.

With a small caveat.

It's hard to eat as a family when you have three little dictators in diapers that are ready to start eating as SOON as they get placed in their chair. Usually, it requires a lot of planning by Charlie and I to get meal times coordinated such that we can all sit down to eat at about the same time and we're not jumping up to get this. And that. And this. And that. And this. (And that).

Eating together as a family is a good thing. Not counting the car - our mealtimes are the only time we are all gathered together for at least 15 minutes ... we're sitting still ... we're not distracted by outside influences (i.e. The Wiggles) ... and we're conscious. Aside from those benefits, it allows us an excellent opportunity to work with the kids on their self-feeding skills and social etiquette around the dinner table.

As you can see, we still have a ways to go.

We could most definitely have done with out the highchairs and the infant carriers. But as our children grow up ... meal time around our family table is one thing we will never regret.


  1. I totally ditto most of that. If only we knew then what we know now. I would've totally skipped some stuff, like swings and highchairs. And the return on these things when you try to sell them is next to nothing. Which makes sense, but still. Although, I have to say the bouncers and infant carriers were a must have for me. I wouldn't have survived without them. If I ever have twins again, I'll be more prepared. (Obviously joking). Nice table by the way. Good luck with the meal time together plan.

  2. I am soo with you! On so many fronts...1- I never bought highchairs. We went from bouncy seats, to the adjustable booster seats with trays...there was just no room for 3 highchairs & the feeding chairs were much easier to travel with. We switched to regualr boosters a few months ago...and, hoenstly, i think it was too soon. They are too wiggily.
    The only time we "eat as a fmaily" is when we go out...because then there is someone else there to serve us, so we can actually sit. (This may be why we eat out 4-5 times a week!)
    Love the new table...and (sorry this is such a late observation) I love that your GIRLS have brown hair like Daddy & your BOY has the blonde hair like Mom.

  3. Jenna-
    Elizabeth looks like Elvis in the bouncy seat picture! Too cute! That is such a cute pict. of the 3 kiddos!

  4. Ditto on all my guilty pleasure is buying toys...and then the little monkeys play with a bottle cap or a spatula?
    I love your table! Pictures awesome as usual
    Holy Cow Batman you mean people don't eat in the family room with the tv on like we do?! :)

  5. I agree on wishing you could go back and do things differently. But the truth is, it was your first time around to be a mom. No one could've convinced you to get "used" things for your babies.

    I had this thing where I wanted everything to be NEW and you have to pay for that. I wouldn't have done it any differently. I knew I didn't want highchairs though. My friend that had twins convinced me that booster seats were the way to go. The ones we registered for reclined a bit too so when they were still taking bottles, they could be at an angle.

    I love the table!! What a nice way to "dine together". I think I probably START eating when everyone else is already finished. THEN the little piggies beg for food off of my plate!'s the neck?

  6. Your blog is really fun to read!

  7. I try not to think about it. :) Very nice table though. Such happy family dinners will commence around that peice of furniture for years to come!

  8. I would have skipped a lot of the stuff too, however, my highchair isn't one of them. My DD's would sit in them for HOURS just playing. I got so many things done.

    I love your posts!

  9. Can I just say that your little ones are adorable! :)

    We have friends that are expecting their first baby in Feb. 2007. They asked us for a list of baby products that we couldn't live without and ones that were worthless. We were happy to share our experiences!