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I scream, you scream, we all scream for….sunscreen?

While the first day of summer is still just around the corner, most of us have been basking in the warm weather for weeks now. I don’t know about you guys, but our winter was pretty miserable and I’m soaking up the 90 degree sunshine like a lizard that was just removed from a freezer. What can I say, I’m an Arizona girl living it up in North Carolina.

If you’re like me, you had to do the ol’ closet switcheroo (or, like me, multiple times because our weather was bipolar and just when I thought it was warm, it would snow and I’d have to dig the freshly packed away winter clothes out again), buy the kids new swimsuits and sandals, and plan vacations and trips to the pool/beach/lake. And of course, buy some sunscreen. Good ol’ sunscreen. It’s like a little tube with a superhero cape, standing between our skin and the dastardly deeds of melanoma. So what is sunscreen exactly? How does it work? What should we look for in a sunscreen? Let me, in my warm weather lizard giddiness, try to answer those questions for you.

First, let’s take a look at what exactly sunscreen protects us from. UVA and UVB are two different types of ultraviolet radiation that reaches our atmosphere from the sun. You can’t see them with your eyes, but they can fry up your eyeballs like a couple of seasoned eggs. UVA and UVB both are different wavelengths and act differently by nature, but are both equally damaging. UVA rays penetrate deeper and are responsible for most skin aging and wrinkles and is usually responsible for the start of skin cancers by damaging the DNA in our skin. UVB rays are shorter in wavelength, and cause more damage to the surface of the skin (think the redness of sunburn).

The sun's gnarly side.

The sun’s gnarly side.

Sunscreen can be protective either chemically, physically, or both. Chemical ingredients in sunscreen absorb the evil rays and prevent them from penetrating your skin. Examples of these chemicals are avobenzone and oxybenzone. Physical ingredients actually cause the rays to bounce off the skin and usually are present as titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. Most sunscreens on the market contain a mixture of both, or “broad spectrum”. However, according to the Environmental Working Group, chemical ingredients such as oxybenzone are potential hormone disruptors, have a high risk of allergic reaction and have been found in the breastmilk of nursing mothers. Some people may prefer to use mineral sunscreens with titanium dioxide and zinc oxide instead, which can be harder to apply and leaves you looking like a snowman. Whatever you choose, it’s probably best to stick with the lotion/cream/stick sunscreens as the spray sunscreens are more likely to not be thoroughly applied and can also be inhaled. And remember, never apply sunscreen to babies under 6 months old.

This article is about summertime, but it's also important to mention that it's important to wear sunscreen year round. Sun reflecting off snow can be particularly damaging.

This article is about summertime, but it’s also important to mention that it’s important to wear sunscreen year round. Sun reflecting off snow can be particularly damaging.

So what are you looking for in a sunscreen besides the type of ingredient you are most comfortable with? The sun protection factor, or SPF. SPF is a “rating” per say, that indicates how long it will take UVB (not UVA! Remember, those are responsible for the destruction under the superficial layer of skin) to redden your skin. So SPF 15 basically means it will take you an additional 15 minutes to burn. SPF 50 is recommended, and all sunscreens should be applied every few hours, more if you are sweating or swimming. Recently the FDA revised their rules regarding the wording and description on sunscreens, including banning the words “water proof”, although you may see “water resistant”. This means the sunscreen tends to stay on a bit longer in water than others, but you still need to reapply at least every 2 hours.

Sunglasses protect your eyes from the damaging effects of the sun. Remember, you only get one pair of eyes!

Sunglasses protect your eyes from the damaging effects of the sun. Remember, you only get one pair of eyes!

 

In addition to applying sunscreen, try to stay out of the sun between 10am and 4pm, wear protective hats and SPF clothing, don’t burn, don’t go to tanning beds, always keep babies out of direct sunlight, wear sunglasses that specifically say they contain UV filters, and eat lots of ice cream. Lots and lots of ice cream. CarSeatBlog orders. Happy summer!!

Monkey proofing your baby proofing.

Babyproofing. We are all familiar with it. The first child rolls over and it’s a mad dash to Babies R Us to buy every lock/corner cover/fireplace bumper/outlet cover, etc known to man. The second kid comes and it’s like, “Meh, put away the matches and knives and don’t dump your change on the floor and we’re good”.

But there is one thing that we should remember to do, no matter how many kids are in your home. And regrettably, I slacked on this one. I’m going to tell you what happened last week, and I’m going to feel very guilty and like an awful parent but it needs to be said: Please anchor your dressers/TVs/furniture to the walls. I’ve actually been very good about this and I will admit it’s probably only because Ikea (gotta love those safety focused Swedes!) includes anchor straps with all their furniture. When we moved in here, I dutifully anchored all dressers, TV stands, and bookshelves to the wall. All but one. I meant to do it. But I slacked because I was in a whirlwind of Declan being born within 2 weeks of moving into the house and unpacking and life in general. Plus the dresser is a beast. I can’t even move it by myself, so I wasn’t worried about a 3 year old lightweight pulling it over. Kid doesn’t eat his spinach; he ain’t pullin’ anything over.

And I was right. Until I wasn’t.

He’s opened those drawers a million times. A drawer in our dresser I keep out of season stuff in. I had my back turned to close the blinds while he pulled open the drawer to get out a pair of summer pajamas, and I heard a whoosh and a crashing sound a foot behind me. Oddly enough, despite me never in a million years thinking he would ever pull the dresser on to himself, the second I heard that sound I knew what it was before I even saw him. There it was, the Beast laying on top of my skinny little guy, his sad little face crying over the top of the dresser. I must have grown muscles in those split seconds because the weight of my heart in my feet surely should have kept me from moving. Despite always whining and making my husband help me to move the dresser over when I needed to get something behind it, I managed to lift the dresser and fling it to the side. When I lifted it, the drawers flew out and whacked the poor kid again. I remember cussing at myself in my head for being so stupid. I left him laying there while I started to check him over, but he immediately popped up, kicked the dresser and screamed “STUPID!!!” at it and flung himself into my arms. I choked back tears as I thanked Whoever for my son not being another statistic. Miraculously, despite the Beast nailing him to the floor, he only had a minor goose egg on his forehead and a bruised cut on his arm. He’s totally forgotten about it but I still continue to play it over and over in my head, thinking how easily the outcome could have been different.

According to the CPSC, 25,400 kids are injured every year from falling furniture/appliances and 1 child dies every 2 weeks. Every 2 weeks! From something totally cheap and preventable. Many of these incidents involve televisions, which most people don’t think to anchor. But think about it, how many times are you telling your kids they are standing too close to the TV? How many times do you tell them to stop climbing on drawers? It could happen to you; I know this because it happened to me. I honestly don’t even think Liam was climbing on a drawer. It was too fast, and it happened with me standing right there!

dresser1

Since then I’ve started taking more precautions despite all the furniture being anchored now. The most reached for items are now in bottom drawers, as well as the heaviest items so the dressers aren’t top heavy. Lamps with the switches on the cords now have the switch easily accessible  from the side of the dresser so there is no climbing to reach it. When something is taken away, it is never placed on top of a dresser, bookshelf, or refrigerator to prevent the temptation to climb up to get it back when I’m not looking.

So please listen and do something simple today: buy some anchor straps and attach your furniture to the walls. They’re about $7 for two on Amazon. Even if you’re a renter, I guarantee your child’s life is worth more than the hassle of patching up some holes when you move. If Amaya could tell you to do it, she would. So would Meghan, Charlie, and Katie . And I’m sure Brooke‘s mom could write an even more passionate post than I ever could.

As a CPST, safety advocate, and healthcare provider, I feel like we are constantly warning parents of the obvious dangers: cars, pools, guns. We never stop to think about the unobtrusive ones. So no, I don’t cap the corners of my counters or lovingly pad the edge of the coffee table. But you can bet your sweet buns I’m anchoring the heck out of my house.

And being thankful that the only thing that came out of all this was a blog post.

dresser2

On the Up and Up with the UPPAbaby MESA: Infant Carseat Review

mesaWhile UPPAbaby is a popular name in the stroller world, this is the first time they’ve ventured into the world of car seat safety with their UPPAbaby MESA infant carseat. I was a bit apprehensive at first, simply because the first shot at something tends to have a few kinks that can be worked out in subsequent models. However, my apprehension was dead wrong. They hit this one, and they hit it right out of the park. I’m thoroughly impressed, from the installation, to the use, to the aesthetics.

 

MESA Specifications and details:

  • For babies 4-35 lbs and 32 inches or less (1″ rule also applies)
  • No-rethread harness with 5-position front-adjustable headrest
  • 2 crotch strap/buckle positions
  • Lowest harness slot height is about 5.5″ and highest harness slots about 10″
  • Removable infant insert recommended for infants 4-8 lbs.
  • Robust head wings and shell lined with thick energy-absorbing EPS foam for enhanced side-impact protection
  • SMARTSecure™ system features auto-retracting lower anchor LATCH attachments
  • Built-in lockoff for seatbelt installations
  • Tension indicator on base – turns from red to green when base is installed tightly
  • Recline angle indicators on both sides of base
  • Allows European-style belt routing when installing baseless
  • Storage pockets in cover for keeping buckles out of the way when placing a child in the seat
  • Carrier weighs 11.1 lbs
  • 7 year lifespan before expiration

image  image

uppababy-mesa-baseMESA Base – the base is very low profile and clean looking. The entire base is rounded and smooth so it won’t leave a dent or scuff in your vehicle upholstery. The blue lockoff is located in the center of the beltpath. The LATCH connectors are stored in neat little compartments and you release them by pushing a button on top of the base. That’s a nice touch because then you don’t have LATCH straps flapping around interfering with your seatbelt installation or whacking you in the shin when carrying the base. There are recline angle indicators on both sides of the base and a button on top to adjust the recline on the base (there are 4 positions). A little window above the lockoff turns from red to green when the base is installed properly. I will discuss this more in the installation section.

Extra MESA bases can be purchased separately and retail for $119.99

Currently, MESA is available in 4 fashions. Drew (Tangerine), Sebby (Teal), Lindsey (Wheat), and Jake (Black) were all named after children of UPPAbaby employees (fun fact!).

A button on top of the handle allows you to release the MESA from the VISTA or CRUZ stroller with one hand. The handle has 3 positions, all of which can be used in the car. The release mechanism to detach the carrier from the base is located on the back of the seat above the blue panel that serves as the shoulder belt guide for European-style beltpath installation when the seat is installed without the base.

The seat itself is fairly long front to back and should accommodate tall babies well. It measures about 28″ front to back when attached to the base and almost 26″ when installed baseless. It’s not particularly narrow and measures about 17″ wide. The base itself is a tad over 14″ wide and should puzzle well next to other seats due to its low profile. Internal seated height measures about 17.5″ tall to the top of the adjustable head rest.

photo (74)

Installation and Fit to Vehicle:

UPPAbaby claims that the LATCH installation on this seat only takes about 10 seconds and I will say that is accurate. As you can see in the video above, there’s not much to it and it’s as easy as they claim.

Winning the Race

Ahhh…the old Hotwheels in a bottle trick eh? Try to get that one out.

Ahhh…the old Hotwheels in a bottle trick eh? Try to get that one out.

We all know the supposed “mommy wars”. Breastfeeding vs formula feeding. Co-sleeping vs crib sleeping. Working vs staying at home. Every mother has her own opinion, and unfortunately it usually differs from the one next door. Of course each one thinks her way is best, they butt heads, and the mommy wars begin.

The last few weeks I’ve been noticing a new trend. On Facebook and through emails, there have been numerous links shared to different blogs centered around spending time with your children. Great right? Nothing bad can come of that. I enjoyed reading them, and they were a good reminder to me on tough day to quit texting or cleaning and get down on the floor and PLAY. To enjoy my kids for who they are in this exact moment, for I will never get the moment back again. I was part of this revolution…the revolution to put away the phone and be a good mom.

I began turning off the radio in the car to talk to Liam about things. I began pointing out things in the store and giving him lists and taking advantage of educational moments. I turned my phone off for hours at a time. This is good, I thought. This is what I’m supposed to be doing so I don’t miss anything. I can’t miss anything.

But then it began to consume me. My few moments to enjoy music that wasn’t the beginning of the Cat in the Hat was gone and replaced with chatter about if bugs poop or why I’m turning left and not right. I was stuck inside Target with a kid having a melt down because I wanted to leave before he was done finding “something red” (horrible color choice for eye spy in Target. Horrible. Every freaking thing is red in that place). I had no adult contact, no inside jokes to laugh at on the side while playing Monster Jam on the living room floor.

Because this is how it’s supposed to be, right? Right.

Except I feel like it’s not. I am me. I am an individual person outside of who’s mother I am. Sometimes I don’t want to be climbed on, I don’t want to see how big your booger is, and I’d rather be locked in the bathroom than watch you smash my carefully built play-doh rabbit for the upteenth time. The immense guilt I feel is overwhelming. Yes the years fly by but oh how long some days can be. Days when I can’t wait till they are peacefully asleep in their beds and I can sit on the couch and do nothing. Except I am doing something…I’m feeling like I must be the worst mom ever and stressing out over what I can do with them tomorrow to make up for my inattentiveness today. That surely when I was scrubbing the kitchen floor, my 3 year old mastered long division and I missed it forever. Tomorrow. Tomorrow I will ask him to show me. Always tomorrow. Oh wait…I’m not supposed to think that. Today. I only have today. Don’t put it off. It doesn’t matter that I’m exhausted to the point of tears. Do it today. Now.

The latest mommy war: who can spend more time with their kids? Who is more tolerant? If you wish for an hour of having your body and mind back, you lose. You don’t need that. You can have that when they are grown. Enjoy it now. Soak up every moment. If you aren’t sufficiently soaking, you are failing and will cry with regret on your death bed. You better be a fat dripping sponge of “now” moments.

While you are sitting there being that giant wet sponge, make sure you glare at the mommy at the park who is looking at her phone. Who cares if she spent every moment up till now on the floor playing with her kids and now she’s taken them to the park to play so she can maintain contact with her friends without feeling guilty? She should be climbing the slides alongside her kids. Running. Putting those yoga pants to use.

Come on. Seriously. Stop. Embrace each other. Embrace all of us on this journey. Embrace the fact that to give ourselves to our kids, we have to have something left to give in the first place. Stop the mommy war of guilt. Take care of yourselves, and offer help when you have extra to give. Because behind that internet cover up of moms out there who devote every second of themselves around the clock are moms like us who lock themselves in the bathroom for 5 minutes with a cup of coffee and a magazine that hasn’t been ripped up. Moms who try to take a deep breath and relax but instead notice the Hotwheels in the toilet and the tiny fingers reaching under the door. Because the years are short but the days are long and guess what? You’re doing a good job. We all are. So raise that chipped coffee cup and take a drink before you have to reach into the toilet. Cheers!

Baby? What baby?

Baby? What baby?

Warpaint?
Warpaint?