advice for new parents ...

Start as you mean to go on.

I think this was the single most valuable piece of advice I got when I became a parent.  Parenting is a series of choices made in chaos and the more that you can nail down healthy habits that you think will serve you in the long term, oddly, the more flexibility you have for the fun and silliness of kids.  For example, if you think your kid (and you) will be happier if they nap everyday, then choose a time, commit, and put them in their room everyday.  If you cook for your kids and want to prepare one meal per seating, then resist the temptation to cater to tastes, and prepare one meal.  This advice also applies to the dreaded babybook . . . .

When Skye and Charlie were born and throughout their babyhoods, I wanted to keep all the wonderful mementos - wrist I.D.’s, birth announcements, baby footprints, notes from friends, and records of their first foods, words, steps.


But it was chaos, so I did my best and threw everything in a 3-ring binder.  It didn’t get any less busy as they headed into preschool - so into the binder went first stories, drawings, letters from my parents, class pictures.  It looked nothing like the classy babybook someone had given me, but it was saved (kind of ) somewhere at least.

If I were having a baby today, I’d start as I meant to go on - and save it all to trovvit.  I’d start with sonograms and share it with family and a few friends (Facebook is nice, but do all those folks really want to see pictures of your sonogram?).  A photo of Skye in that beautiful blanket shared with the aunt who gave it.

That video of Charlie climbing out of the crib onto the mantel (yikes!).  The email my mom wrote when she looked after Skye for a weekend.  And then trovvit would also be there for first school days, poems, t-ball.  

What is the purpose of putting these things into trovvit?  Nostalgia?  Yes.  

But it is also a record of an evolution.  Skye and Charlie love to flip through their binders - messy and odd tho’ they are.  “Who wrote this note?  Were my feet really that small?  How old was I when I drew that?”   

But much of Skye and Charlie’s special moments are buried deep in a photo library somewhere.  (Just finding the images for this post took FOREVER)  

I’m slowly digging them out - birthday parties, halloween costumes -- and loading them into trovvit.  It’s fun for me to have a record of them - birth to teen - and important for them to be able to see how far they’ve come . . .

And now I’ve started as I mean to go on with trovvit - all of their sports, music, adventures, artwork is collected and shared - sometimes once a week - sometimes multiple times a day- through trovvit.



What makes your child tick?

by Ashley Goodale

On October 20, The Washington Post published an interesting Opinion piece by Phyllis Fagell, entitled Not just high schoolers anymore: my middle school students are feeling the pressure to succeed.   The author, a middle school counselor in Bethesda, Md. observes that,

"as a community, we are not making it easy for kids to take the risks that lead to self-discovery. The stress level among my 13 and 14-year-old students approximates what I saw several years ago when I counseled high school seniors. There is a sense that they need to follow a prescribed path, to perform well in every discipline. Parents and students fear that even middle school choices might have an impact on college admissions. As a result, when students earn a low grade or don’t like their math placement or get cut from a team, they can become unmoored."

Ms. Fagell encourages parents to,

"give students permission to be brave explorers. We can emphasize that the highs and lows are both useful because they reveal what makes them tick — what sparks their intellectual curiosity and brings them joy. At the dinner table, we can ask them about their favorite (and most detested) subjects. We can gently inquire whether they actually like playing travel soccer four days a week. Maybe they have been thinking they might like to try cooking or painting.”

Finally, Ms. Fagell argues that in order to lower our children’s stress levels, we need to “honor what makes them unique and help them develop self-awareness.”  

Here at trovvit, we think fostering your child’s passions is key to their future happiness.  We can honor what makes them unique by keeping track of what is engaging our children – uploading a picture of their drawing of a ball gown, a trip to the local Science museum, a certificate from a coding class.  We can help them develop self awareness by showing them what is collected in their trovvit account, and encouraging them to add to it.  And what trovvit can do is help create a visual history of “what makes them tick - what sparks their intellectual curiosity and brings them joy.”

What I learned at the New York Times Symposium on College Admissions and Preparation

NYTIMES logo.png

By Laurel Watts

I spent Saturday in a packed auditorium at the New York Times Building and heard from five panels about the best way to go about applying to college.   The panel participants gave thoughtful, detailed advice to an audience that appeared to be 75% parents and 25% students

Know thyself

The overall takeaway was “know thyself.”  Or, as Sarah Meyers McGinty said, ask yourself, “How do I roll?”

In order to choose a college that is a good “fit,” you need to know who you are and what you are interested in.  Amy Jarich, Admissions, Berkeley

To write a compelling college essay in your authentic voice, you need to reflect on yourself -- what personality trait you would like to convey and what story in your life reveals that trait.  Sarah Myers McGinty, Education researcher and author.

Or conversely, what interesting story do you have to tell and how does that story reveal your thinking, writing skill, personality?  Bruce Weber, New York Times.

College rankings are meaningless, unless the criteria by which they are ranked are important criteria to you.  Jordan Goldman, founder of Unigo.

Finally, “College is a transformative experience, so ask “How do I want to be different?”  Alexander McCormick, Director, Nat’l Survey on Student Engagement.

All good.  But, at 15 or 16 years old, how do you know yourself?  Where do you start?  

Sarah Myers McGinty suggested that students begin in ninth grade to stockpile potential material -- a list of things done in the community, in their context.  She suggested that students keep a file on the computer “where you can throw stuff.  Look into your life, if you understand this moment or commitment, you can understand me.” Evan Cranston, a recent Brown graduate said, “I wish I had the advice of keeping a list of the really cool things I did in my life.”

As my kids, Skye and Charlie, add materials to their trovvit accounts, a story emerges.  Actually, several possible stories emerge from their trovvit records organized into narratives.  A record of an award won.  A record of a weekly practice, an annual puppet parade, a game lost, a tough hike, a poetry collection.   Their “stockpile” on trovvit will serve them well in only a few years . . .