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Monthly Archive:: October 2012

Box Hoarders Unite!

I am not a hoarder. I’ve seen the sad episodes on talk shows of people who live in homes with paths to their beds that have a tiny spot on which to sleep. My own grandma was a bit of a packrat. But I am not a hoarder, not even close. I am a collector.

If you walked into my house, you’d look around and think, nope, not even a collector. This woman and her family live a pretty sparse life (until you look in the children’s rooms—gah!). Even the dog has only 2 toys. But wait until you see the attic. Boxes upon boxes, all empty. Therein lies the collection. When my dh and I were first married, we were pretty unstable where we lived. He was in law school and we moved twice in those first 3 years, then 3 more times in the year after he graduated. By the time we moved into our current house, we had moved a grand total of 9 times in 8 years and we weren’t military. After our first move across country—and across Arkansas!—we learned to keep original boxes to keep items in good condition, hence the box collection.

A couple of weeks ago I decided to paint my dd’s room, which necessitated moving all her furniture out to give me some room. We were using the space under her captain’s bed for storage and since she’s getting older, I’ve decided to move that stuff out so her things can go under her bed. Where to put all that junk that’s under her bed? (For the record—it’s my mil’s!) Up the ladder I went to the attic and discovered my collection of carseat boxes. Heh. So many! So many for so many seats I no longer have! Really, though, I did have to keep them in case I had to ship a seat back to a manufacturer (I’ve done it) or ship a seat to a friend (yep, done that too). Have you ever tried to MacGyver a box to fit a carseat? Really tough, I tell you. It’s easier to break them down flat and store them, only I didn’t do that with the ones in the attic.  We had the luxury of a little bit of space up there, so we pitched them off to the side and forgot about them. After pulling them out of the attic, plus a few other boxes of items I knew we no longer had, it turns out I had 2 boxes for carseats I no longer have and 2 more for carseats that will be expiring soon! Plus I have at least 3 other carseat boxes stored flat in my garage.

Dh decided to continue my attic box removal and brought down perhaps 10 more. We also had 2 large boxes sitting in our living room that held dd’s new bedside tables. I so wish I had a window open when the recycling guy came by to pick up all our boxes. The amount of cardboard sitting on the curb was epic, but I do feel better recycling it rather than throwing it away like most of my neighbors. Next we’ll be getting rid of all of our ancient computers that have long been broken and sitting around the house gathering dust.  I might have to make artwork out of the hard drive platters—they’re actually quite beautiful when you take the drives apart. But that’s for another blog. Just remember, it’s not an obsession—it’s a collection.

Flying with Kids & Carseats – the checked carseat controversy

The issue of how to best handle flying with kids and their carseats is something that comes up repeatedly on the Car-Seat.org forum. Many safety-conscious parents will bring the carseat with them knowing that their child will need to use it once they reach their destination. I applaud all those parents for doing the right thing! However, for a variety of reasons, most parents don’t actually bring the carseat onto the plane and use it for their child during the flight. I suspect that many of those checked seats that I see on the baggage carousel belong to children who wound up as lap babies on the flight. For the record, here at CarseatBlog we always recommend that you buy a ticket for your child (regardless of their age), bring their carseat and use it on the plane.

Regardless of why parents chose to check their carseats, the fact remains that most travelers flying with CRs in tow do check them instead of lugging them through security and using them on the plane. And seats checked with regular luggage probably get tossed around and manhandled the same way luggage does. I somehow doubt that the baggage guys suddenly look at the carseat and decide to handle it with care so they don’t crack the EPS foam, know what I mean?

But what if you’ve already traveled with your carseat and checked it? Perhaps even multiple times? Is it still safe to use? That’s the controversy.

There are some child passenger safety advocates that will argue that a checked carseat could have sustained significant damage during the time it was out of your sight and should be replaced as a precaution. Some might actually go so far as to suggest that the checked carseat is now “as good as crashed”. I personally think that stance is a little over the top but I understand the logic behind those opinions. I’ve seen how beat-up my luggage is sometimes when I reach my destination. Plus, many frequent flyers have witnessed first-hand some of the abuse that luggage endures as it’s loaded and unloaded from the aircraft.

What we’ve lacked in the past is any type of official policy or statement from the CR Manufacturers regarding checked carseats.  The instruction manuals are full of do’s and don’ts and even show us how to install the [harnessed] carseat properly using the lap-only belt on the aircraft. But there has been absolutely no attention given to encouraging use of the CR on the plane, and subsequently no mention of what you should or shouldn’t do if you’re flying but not planning to bring the carseat on board.

Just recently, the Manufacturers Alliance for Child Passenger Safety issued a statement for CPS Technicians/Instructors on the subject:

Car Seats Gate-Checked or Checked as Luggage
Car seats are designed to withstand most motor vehicle crash forces. In general, the MACPS does not consider a gate-checked car seat or a car seat that is checked as luggage to be one that has experienced forces equivalent to a motor vehicle crash. Once the destination is reached, it is recommended to inspect the car seat to make sure no visual damage has occurred and all aspects of the car seat function properly.

(August 2012)

 

I think that’s certainly a reasonable policy but I would really like to see all CR Manufacturers take it a step further and include language in the instruction manuals that encourages the use of the CR on the plane and discourages checking it with regular luggage. Gate-checking the carseat should be encouraged if and when it isn’t possible to use it on board the aircraft for the child. If nothing else, a gate-checked seat is much less likely to be lost than a seat that was checked with luggage.

I appreciate that the MACPS has taken the time to address the issue. I trust that they looked at the issues seriously. I’m not a carseat engineer, nor do I play one on TV, so I’m going to defer to them on this issue and trust that they know what their products can withstand.

On this end of the table, we’re going to continue to advocate for securing children in aircraft with the same passion and dedication that we have for securing them in motor vehicles. With that in mind, let’s list the top DO’s and DON’Ts of flying with kids and carseats.

  • DO buy a plane ticket for your child, even if they are under age 2. Lap babies can be seriously injured during turbulence and in cases where emergency maneuvers are required (aborted take-offs, emergency landings, etc.)
  • DO use an FAA-approved child restraint with a 5-point harness for kids under 40 lbs.
  • DO bring your child’s carseat to the gate even if your child is under age 2 and you haven’t purchased a separate seat for them. Most flight attendants will make every effort to seat you next to an empty seat (if the flight isn’t full) in order to accommodate your properly restrained child.
  • DO gate-check the carseat if it’s not possible to bring it on board and use it for your child. Items that are gate-checked have less opportunity to be mishandled and are much less likely to be missing when you land.
  • DO know your rights! Well-intentioned but misinformed flight attendants can ruin even the best laid travel plans so be prepared!
  • DON’T check your carseat with your regular luggage if you can help it.
  • DON’T rely on car rental companies to provide an appropriate child restraint. There have been too many horror stories over the years regarding outdated, dirty or lack of available appropriate seats.
  • DO your homework and read our previous blogs on kids, carseats & airplanes:

 

Check out our related blog posts on flying with kids and carseats:

Lap Babies on Airplane – A Warning All Parents Must See

Flying with a Car Seat? Know Your Rights!

Recommended Carseats for Airplane Travel

Airplanes, Carseats, and Kids—What You Need to Know Pt. 1

Airplanes, Carseats, and Kids—What You Need to Know Pt. 2

An Open Letter to the FAA

 

Bloopers Happen

Most of my blog videos are done without any editing, it’s one take straight through.  Usually, I’m holding the camera in one hand, using the other hand to point or demonstrate.  That gives them a little more informal “feel” of a personal blog, rather than the appearance of a professional video, in my opinion.  Well, that, and I’m too lazy to do any post-production!  Many times, I end up doing taking an extra take or two because I stumble on a word or something else happens.  This is one of those times…

Lessons from the 1950s, Part 3: I’m a Failure

When I first got my 1950s parenting magazines (read prior entries here and here), I thought I’d entertain myself with some ads, scoff at outdated (and potentially dangerous) parenting advice, and smugly reflect on unfair gender stereotypes of yore.

At first, all went as planned. One of the very first items I read was a quiz called “Are You a Model Mother?” According to the bullets, you are if…

  • You make every effort to regain an attractive figure.
  • You faithfully do any exercise your doctor may prescribe.
  • You find enough time each day to keep your home neat, tidy, and fresh.
  • You still make tasty and appetizing meals for the bread-winner to come home to.
  • You don’t let your newly added duties prevent you from carefully grooming and dressing.

There are others, too, but those were the ones I laughed about. Bread-winner! Attractive figure! Cleaning my house!

Another article titled “Such a Pretty Mother!” gave beauty advice.

Make it an undying, undeviating rule never to appear at the breakfast table in pin curls without a glamour bandeau to hide them. And always remember the lipstick, please, for a bright morning face! … No reason for your husband to hide behind his newspaper because his little helpmate presents so dowdy a picture over the breakfast coffee!

I stayed up until midnight reading through my new/old magazines. I went to sleep and let my brain ruminate over how things were 60 years ago.

Then I woke up in the morning and looked around my house. It’s not filthy in the sense that there’s rotting food or dirty diapers lying around, but I’m not sure I’d call it “neat, tidy, or fresh.” There are newspapers stacked on my retro-’50s table, a pile of clothes waiting to be folded in the corner of a bedroom, and toys strewn everywhere. I haven’t vacuumed or dusted in…a long time. We eat out a lot. My daily beauty regimen consists of showering (hopefully before noon), combing my hair, and applying Chapstick.

I thought about all the conveniences I have that women in the 1950s didn’t (or likely didn’t). Dishwasher. Clothes dryer. Microwave. Keurig. Disposable diapers. Internet shopping. A husband who doesn’t care if my hair is coiffed (and would probably laugh if it were).

I started to realize there’s really no excuse not to have a spic-and-span house. Yes, I have three kids, and yes, they take a lot of time (especially the one I’m homeschooling, which most ’50s moms wouldn’t have been doing). No, I’m not eating bonbons and watching soaps, but I’m not busting my butt scrubbing my baseboards either.

One article gave home-making tips for after baby arrives. One of the tips was to keep clean, wet laundry in the icebox until you have a chance to iron it. Holy shirt! I think I own an iron, but I couldn’t tell you where it is. Yet here I am writing a blog post instead of taking my clothes out of the dryer because I can just put it on touch-up later.

Then I began to wonder if it was all a myth. Maybe the typical 1950s mom wasn’t as Leave-it-to-Beaver as the magazines would have me believe. So I asked my grandma, who had her first child in 1952.

She said her house wasn’t immaculate, but it was always tidy. She did her hair every day. My grandpa was quick to add that there was always a full breakfast on the table (and for them, that means eggs, some sort of meat, toast, fruit, milk, juice–the works).

That didn’t help. My kids think toaster waffles are a luxury. It doesn’t matter, though, because right now a science project is obscuring my access to the toaster.

I really have no excuse for the not-put-away clothes and the not-put-away toys and the not-put-away-box-of-Saltines-from-when-my-daughter-was-sick-two-weeks ago.

I thought that after reading these magazines, I’d feel a sense of superiority, but instead I feel extremely inadequate. I’m pretty sure I would have failed the 1950s.