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Parenting Archive

Welcome home!

Well, I’ve been blessed to have been invited to guest blog here at CarseatBlog, and I’m so excited that I’ve made about 193,329,382 punctuation errors in this first sentence alone that I had to go back and correct. In case you didn’t know, that’s the Internet version of wetting your pants.

I’m not a total stranger as I’ve been on the car-seat.org boards for years now, but lately I’ve been consumed with work and family life (read: eaten alive by my insane two year old) so I’ve been less on the scene than I used to. I blog semi-frequently, but blogging for an “official” blog with multiple people is a first for me, and I somewhat feel like Eve must have felt on Wall-e when she was shoved off the rocket. Not that I’m comparing CarseatBlog to a worn out planet of trash or Darren to a robotic trash compacter…but you know. Obviously my analogies aren’t the best. But I *do* know my car seats, and I’m a pretty passionate person, so here I am.

Be your kid’s superhero.

When I mention passion it comes to light that a lot of us (ok, if you’re reading this you are most likely included) are thought of as insane, or at least a little weird, to be “obsessed” with car seats and passenger safety. Everyone has their interests and hobbies, but I am always a little offended when someone compares my car seat passion with knitting or collecting postcards. To others, it’s small. But to me, it’s big. Very big. But I wonder what makes some of us latch on to this and take it to a level that extends beyond basic research?

I think it has a lot to do with control. If you think about it, having children is the epitome of being out of control. Conception is a crapshoot. Birth can be unpredictable. Make a child eat? Yeah, right. Force a child to sleep? You’re dreaming, only you’re wide awake with blood shot eyes and a deep gutted feeling of desperation. Get through an errand at Target without tantrums and dirty looks from strangers? Nope (ok, maybe that’s just me). Control every other driver on the road? I wish.

You can make the healthiest, greenest, organic food on the planet, but there’s no guarantee your toddler won’t dump it on the floor and yell, “all done!!!” while running off to eat the 3 month old cracker they found behind the entertainment center. You can buy organic sheets and expensive pajamas, darken the room, have the meanest swaddle on the planet, all while playing the whispers of sweet golden angels on the iPod speakers, but you can’t guarantee that kid will close his eyes. You can hand your kid a $500 iPad as bribery but it won’t mean he won’t try to launch himself out of the cart screaming “help me!!!” to strangers because you wouldn’t let him open all the bottles of detergent at Target. You can’t make people sober, attentive, or even good drivers. You just can’t.

But one thing you CAN do, is give your child the best possible chance of survival from all the things you can’t control. You can’t make your child like it. You can’t guarantee you won’t want to slice your eyeballs with a manila envelope after listening to the complaints, both from your child and those who criticize you. However, you CAN force that child to ride in a car seat that provides the proper protection they deserve. Every time. Without fail. Because you do have control over one thing in raising a child: giving them a fighting chance and forcing them to take it. They’ll thank you for it later.

Yours truly and the 36 inch tornado.

Editor’s Note:  Alicia is a long time member of c-s.org. She is an RN, former CPST, and toddler wrangler to her son Liam.

We just completed a cross country move from AZ to NC and my son is the true definition of “spirited”, however once I get my feet on the ground I’m devoted to getting back into the role of CPST and getting myself back where I feel most at home- in your backseat!”

Welcome, Alicia!  We were hoping you could help us make the place a little “lighter” and a little less “official”!  Alicia’s parenting blog is “A Short Story Made Long“.

A Year in the Life

Before I had kids, I wanted to be one of those moms who made awesome scrapbooks. When I was pregnant with my first child, I routinely watched a TV show that demonstrated all sorts of tools and techniques to make gorgeous pages. Inspired, I bought a scrapbook and a bunch of paper and got to work. Eight years later, it hasn’t been updated beyond my baby shower.

When I was pregnant with my second child, I got inspired again and bought another with the intention of finishing my son’s and starting one for the new baby. Three years later, the book is still in its shrink-wrap.

By the time I got pregnant the third time, I had faced the reality that I would never be a scrapbooking mom. It just takes too much money, space, and (most important) time. I did want to do something, though, to commemorate the first year of my last child’s life.

Some of my friends take monthly photos of their babies sitting next to the same stuffed animal in order to have a visual record of their baby’s growth. I liked this idea, but we didn’t have any stuffed animals that seemed worthy the task, and I sure didn’t want to buy a new one just to be a photo prop.

After some brainstorming, it hit me: The car seat! Each month, I could take a photo of my baby in my beloved Coccoro. It was genius! (As it turns out, some other people from car-seat.org had gotten the same idea prior to my brainstorm, so my idea wasn’t necessarily unique, but I didn’t know it at the time.)

My baby boy turned 1 the other day, and I snapped my last monthly photo of him in the Coccoro. Without further ado, here is the closest thing Oliver will get to a scrapbook:

A couple days old, about 8 pounds, 20.5″ 

 

 One month

 

 Two months

 

 Three months

 

 Four months

 

 Five months

 

 Six months

 

 Seven months

 

 Eight months

 

 Nine months

 

 Ten months

 

 Eleven months

 

 One year! Approximately 18 lbs, 30″

 

 

8 isn’t Enough

A few days ago, my son Elias reached an important milestone: He turned 8.

In half of the states in America, kids turning 8 celebrate finally “freeing” themselves of the “constraint” of a booster seat. Yet as safety advocates and an increasing number of parents (and kids!) know, age has little to do with being able to ride safely in an adult seatbelt.

My own son has had vehicle safety driven into his head since the time he was born, and he does take it pretty seriously. Lately, though, even he has been longing to ditch his booster. I told him that on his birthday, we would check the fit in the regular seatbelt, just to see.

He’s familiar with the 5-step test kids need to pass before they can safely move into an adult seatbelt alone:

  • Child sits all the way back in the seat
  • Child’s knees bend comfortably at the edge of the seat
  • The lap belt sits low on the hips, touching the thighs (not on the tummy)
  • The shoulder belt crosses the middle of the shoulder (not falling off, and not rubbing the neck)
  • Child can sit that way for the entire ride

In my state, it’s actually part of the law that the seatbelt needs to fit properly before graduating from a booster seat, although most people (including lots of police officers) don’t realize that.

Elias is a tall kid: 54″ (90th percentile for 8-year-olds), so I worried a bit that he actually would fit well. But a promise is a promise, so here he is sitting in his usual position in the third row of our 2010 Honda Odyssey.

The lap belt is high, and the shoulder belt is on his neck. It’s hard to tell from the photo, but his knees aren’t anywhere near the edge of the seat.

I’ll admit I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw how horrible the fit was without the booster seat. Then I cringed, thinking of how many kids ride like this anyway.

Please make sure that your children fit properly in a seatbelt regardless of age, weight, or height, and remember that the fit might vary based on the vehicle and seating position. Needless to say, Elias is back in his booster and will remain there for quite some time.

 

 

Workin’ at the Kid Wash (Yeah!)

My family is in limbo right now. A few months ago, we sold our house and moved into a rental for a year. In a few more months, we plan on moving…somewhere. But not here. Our temporary house is nice enough, but it’s not ours, and since we’re not here for long, there’s a lot of stuff we haven’t bothered unpacking, and we haven’t wanted to invest in things like closet organizers that we might not need in our next place. So we’re feeling very unsettled and a bit anxious.

That’s why we decided to do something fun this summer to try to nudge us out of our doldrums.

Several years ago I found the plans for a “Kid Wash” in Family Fun magazine. It’s a sprinkler reminiscent of a car wash, but made for kids to run through. My husband agreed that it looked neat and we planned on building it, but never did. So I decided this was finally the year.

We went to the dollar store and Home Depot for all of our Kid Wash needs. We already had the PVC glue (not required, but we did glue a few parts) and pipe cutters at home. The rest of the supplies cost about $50.

Then we all got to work. I measured and marked. Steve cut. My 8-year-old helped drill the holes, and my 3-year-old helped glue. We put the pieces together, connected the hose, and next thing you knew, we had the hottest, coolest front yard in the neighborhood.

Steve altered the plans a bit. We eliminated the “stop” and “go” signs (the kids would ignore them anyway), and instead of nylon lawn-chair webbing (ouch!), we used pool noodles. We also wound up changing out the bits that shoot straight up for angled ones that further spray the kids as they run through. (That was a later alteration, so this picture doesn’t show it.)

My daughter decided that she wanted a “happy smile face that shoots water out of its mouth,” so we gave her a plastic plate to draw the face. Then we attached that and drilled through the plate and the pipe.

The nice thing about this project is that you really can customize it to fit your desires. (I admit it feels a bit sacrilegious to use pool noodles for something other than car seats, though I suppose this is closer to their true intent.)

Have I mentioned it’s a lot of fun, even for the grownups? Not that I’d know. I haven’t run through it dozens of times myself. Swear.

You might be shaking your fist in the air and yelling, “Jennie! Why tell us about this now that summer is almost over?!”

Where I live June is often downright chilly, and we might not hit our peak temperatures until September. It can be sweltering well into October. So the timing is actually great for us. Even if you live somewhere with a “normal” temperature, though, you still have a few more weeks before it gets cold, right? And if not, you can start collecting supplies and planning now for next year. You have a head start!

As with anything, make sure you take proper safety precautions, like using protective eyewear when you run through. (Not really. My kids are wimps.)

Just stay cool, and have fun.