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Monthly Archive:: August 2012

The New Addition

I have written previously in this esteemed Blog about the copious number of car seats, from infant seats to convertible seats to booster seats, that reside in my living room, garage, attic, son’s closet and likely other places I don’t know about.  This situation is generally tolerable.  It allows me to keep my useless items around the house without fear of reprisal or more than the ordinary amount of nagging.  Before you become irritated at the implication that car seats might be “useless,” let me clarify.  Of course the seats themselves are not inherently useless.  They are, in fact, essential for the safe transport of small humans in motor vehicles.  They are useless in the sense that we have no use for most of them for our own small humans, as the older has outgrown them completely and the younger only needs the booster variety.  The only one in the family who could fit into most of these things is the dog, and trying to put her into one would probably really piss her off, and as retaliation she might pee on the carpet.  At least that used to be the case.

It is the case no longer.  Not content to have car seats without something to put in them, my wife, who doubles as one of your gracious Blog hostesses, has seen fit to purchase inanimate replicas of small humans that some people refer to as dolls.  Some of the dolls have no resemblance to flesh and blood living humans.  Their only remarkable attribute is that the dog attempts to eat them, for reasons unknown to the others in the family.  The dog also eats her own poop.  Some mysteries are beyond our ability to explain.  The most
recent addition to our family of fake humans, however, is quite life-like.  It has piercing baby blue eyes, and a sort of a smirk that suggests it knows how you will die.  Before you become irritated at my referring to a real, fake baby human being as “it,” let me clarify.  I have not investigated the gender of the intruder, and while it wears blue clothes I prefer not to rely on gender stereotypes based on an individual’s fashion selections.  Plenty of real human females I know wear blue; that does not make me assume they are actually men.

Not being a fan of horror movies, I have not seen any of the Chuckie/Bride of Chuckie franchise of movies.  This is probably a good
thing, because having done so might make having the new addition to the household even more unsettling.  This is so because the baby recently became armed with a kitchen knife.  It is my belief that my wife, your gracious Blog hostess, who apparently also is slightly unbalanced, put the knife in the baby’s cold hand as some sort of hoax, but one cannot be sure.

We have a zombie in the backyard named Mort.  You should get one; he’s really quite amusing.  Mort appears to be climbing out of the ground, though on closer inspection one realizes that Mort is not a complete body, but only head, arms and chest.  Mort is not particularly frightening, unless your husband puts Mort right inside the bathroom door to get you back for putting him in the office closet and then asking you to please go get an envelope, even if your husband is so tall that he didn’t even notice Mort was in the office closet in the first place.  In the case of the bathroom placement, Mort is frightening, and, based on real life events, after screaming you will likely berate your husband with a string of expletives as he attempts, in vain, to simultaneously cover your children’s ears and flee the premises.  In my defense, Mort was in the bathroom, and according to my wife it scared the poop out of her, so I apparently performed a valuable service.  I received not even so much as a thank you.  Ingrate.

But mere height does not allow one to overlook the homicidal armed human baby replica doll thing in the guestroom (yes, we have a guestroom and live in Las Vegas, no, you can’t use it, and you probably wouldn’t want to because we live far away from the Strip, my cycling shoes are in there and I’d have to wake you up pretty early in the morning to come in and get them, and there’s a homicidal armed human baby replica doll thing in it).  The only fact that allows a peaceful night’s sleep is that it is a newborn, so should not be able to (i) grip the knife, (ii) walk with the knife, (iii) crawl with the knife, (iv) make any sort of stabbing motion, (v) articulate a taunt or threat, or (vi) hold its head up to see where you are.  Perhaps I’ll lock the knives up just in case.  And hopefully the wife doesn’t get a fake toddler or, and this would be really bad, a teenager.  She knows not to even suggest getting a lawn gnome.  That’s grounds for divorce.

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.

 

 

Graco Argos and Turbo Colorz Video Mini Review

We won’t have a full review on these carseats, mostly because they are pretty similar to existing models.

The Graco Argos 70 (and Argos Elite 70) are similar to the Graco Nautilus/Elite models.  The Argos offers slightly increased weight limits and a front-adjustable harness height system.  This is a great feature, not found on some competitive combination models.  You can find our review of the similar Nautilus Elite.

The Graco Turbo Colorz is a basic backless Graco Turbobooster.  It is currently a Target exclusive, sold without a cover in 4 colors for around $19.99.  You then buy one or more of 10 covers separately at $5.99 each to let your child create their own booster!  It’s a great way to promote booster use.

 

Graco Turbo Colorz at Target

Graco Argos 70 at Amazon

 

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.