neighborhood fun: sidewalk swings for summer


One of the things that stood out to me when we moved to Portland was how, besides all the chicken coops,  all the neighborhoods had one common element: sidewalk tree swings. After growing up in New Jersey, and then living in DC and Denver as an adult, I have never seen the “median” space between the sidewalk and street used in such a playful way. Even our neighbors, who have no small children of their own, put up a tire swing and tether ball for the neighborhood kids to use. Sadly, we don’t have a tree out front to install our own swing. But if you do, here are a few easy-to-hang options:

• Disc swing from Wood Tree Swings, $55, includes a hanging kit that prevents rope from cutting into tree limbs and makes set-up a breeze.

• Sassaras Ladybug Rope Swing, $25.

• IKEA EKORRE hand rings, $10. Nope, not a swing. But the neighbor two doors down from us put this up, and it’s a magnet for older kids.

• And then there’s always the classic: a swing made from an old tire sitting in your garage.

Are sidewalk swings and play things a typical neighborhood feature where you live, or are we a bit of an anomaly out here in the Pacific Northwest? –Ginny F.

Yellow swing image by Flickr user Yume Photo

From our partners

help me throw a couples’ baby shower!

My very good friends are having their first baby this fall, and I’m throwing them a couples-shower next month. We know that their little one will be a girl, but I do not want to throw an overly-girly shower since I plan on inviting both ladies and gents to our event. Right now the plan is to have a garden party with small drinks and eats (but not open presents which, in my experience, can drag on too long). I would also like to do maybe a funny game with the couple, like test the new dad’s diaper-changing skills, and the new mom’s ability to work the baby monitor. Other than that, I’m a little at a loss for fun ideas that aren’t too girly (or silly). Anyone have any couples’ shower ideas to share with me? – Rebecca F.

From our partners

kinda genius: aqueduck faucet extender

Aqueduck faucet extender

Even without children of my own, I can instantly identify with the need for a contraption like the Aqueduck. Definitely one for the Why-Didn’t-I-Think-of-That file, the gadget extends almost any faucet so toddlers can reach the water with ease and avoid the old hoist-and-balance routine. Though an initial glance at the simplistic design might elicit some doubt in its value at $12.99, the five-star rating on seems to banish the notion, as many reviewers write that being able to reach the water (with the help of a step stool in most cases) not only eases the strain on little tummies and weary adult muscles, but also encourages hand-washing for the little ones. Another great find for my list of unexpected, but highly-functional gifts for parents. — Sarah C.

From our partners

more help for picky eaters: construction plate

constructive eating plate

Much akin to my feelings on the Food Face Plate, the kid in me squeals with delight at the sight of the Construction Plate, $14.95 at UncommonGoods. Paired with the specialized set of utensils ($17.49, sold separately), this duo has the potential to make food fun, even for the pickiest of eaters. Would it have kept me at the dinner table for nine hours as a kid? Absolutely. But if you can’t play with your food then, what good is childhood? Dishwasher safe for easy cleanup, this might be the perfect gift for a night when the babysitter’s on. — Sarah C.

From our partners

etsy find: dogs playing pirate


Seriously, what’s not to love about this print? The colors are fun, the dogs are great and the penguin? Come on. If I hadn’t just purchased a vintage bird illustration from Etsy seller SurrenderDororthy, this puppy would be mine. $23.89 for the 7″x9″ print dated 1927. The good news if you miss out on this one? SurrenderDorothy has 280 other children’s storybook prints to look through. — Sarah L.

From our partners