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Excuse the mess, we are boosting our immune system

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There are a lot of things that make me feel like I’m failing at life and parenting on a daily basis. Liam had hand, foot, and mouth disease and I let him play at the playground for two days straight (and sent him to school!!) because he felt fine and I thought he had just bit the inside of his mouth. If I could send gift baskets to the families of every kid we probably passed it on to, I would. I felt so terrible once he got a few spots on his feet and I realized what was going on. To be fair, his case was so mild he only had a few spots, but I should definitely have known better and considered something beyond him biting his cheek.

Declan was crying at bedtime last year and doing his usual routine of trying every excuse in the book to get more cuddle time. Some of his favorites are his stomach hurting, or his leg hurting, or some other obscure thing that was fine 3 minutes before the lights went out. One time he cried about his arm. I proceeded to tell him he was fine, and to stay in bed and I’d see him in the morning. He came out a few more times, which wasn’t unusual, complaining about his arm. I’d kiss it and put him back to bed. When he didn’t relent after an unusual amount of time, I actually looked at his arm. Yep, nursemaid elbow. Mom of the year. Popped it back and he went to bed without a problem.

I work. Not full time anymore, I actually work weekends (which usually ends up equaling about 30 hours anyway) so I’m not gone all the time. Yet I feel like I still can’t put 100% to either my kids or my job. That I have to choose, and right now I can’t.

Obviously I don’t need assistance in feeling like I’m slacking. Today the cleanliness gods looked down on me and gave me the middle finger when I realized how trashed my house is after a weekend of guests and basically doing things other than cleaning up. I picked up all the clutter but I still feel the crunch of sand/dirt/crackers under my feet. So great, now my kids are growing up in a hovel in addition to being medically neglected vectors.

But guess what? I’m in luck, along with all of you who are also rocking smashed goldfish under the kitchen table from last week. Who have endless amounts of dirt tracked in the house. Who found a stick in the washer and a dried up worm in the dryer. Who have a cat whose rear end has probably graced every surface in the house. You know why? Because studies have shown that kids who are exposed to dirt, animals, and all the things the Earth has to offer are, in general, healthier and happier. The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology reported that an early exposure to a wide range of bacteria and allergens could help protect kids by shaping their immune response. Scientists at Johns Hopkins stated that children who grow up on farms have lower incidences of asthma and allergies, and children who grow up in the inner city being exposed to more mouse/roach droppings and environmental pollutants tend to have higher rates. However, the article I was reading also stated something interesting. It said that of these inner city children, those who were exposed to those things before their first birthdays had lower levels of asthma and allergies, suggesting the theory of early exposure helping protect children’s immune response in the long run no matter where they live.

Another study done at Brigham and Women’s Hospital suggests that early exposure to bacteria in children helps regulate immune cells and decreases incidences of autoimmune disorders. So what does that translate for the average person? It’s healthier for your baby or child to grow up in a house that’s lived in, and not sterile. Obviously there’s a difference between lived in and a biohazard, but bleaching your house on the regular is more harmful than anything.

Yes, we hug our chickens but as pro-dirt as I am, please always wash your hands after handling fowl. Chickens and cats rate right up there with my kids in the disease carrying department.

So drop that hand sanitizer, quit with the routine bleaching, quit scrubbing your floors on your hands and knees, and leave the baseboards alone. Let your kids eat their snacks at the park with sandy hands. Let them roll in the dirt and chase bugs with the dogs. It’s good for them. Now excuse me while I further neglect my floors and go outside to drink ice coffee and watch the kids play.

I do still wish my cat would wear pants though.

 

Ok so she’s actually my parents dog and doesn’t live with us for optimal immune enhancing hound dog exposure but she needed a cameo because she’s freaking awesome. Also she doesn’t put her nether regions on my pillow.

Goin’ nowhere fast.

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So, I remember how what seemed like a few weeks ago I was jonesing for summer. It was still spring, and I *needed* to get over that season changeover hump and put myself solidly in flip-flop, beach, and waterpark weather. I am a mere shell of myself when it’s gray and dismal and 30 degrees but throw me in the sun with a blanket of 100% humidity around my shoulders and I’m solid.

Except yesterday I went back to school shopping. And a few minutes ago I was reading through the emails from school about teacher assignments and car rider line. What happened to my summer? It’s buried beneath the bags of pencils and expo markers and tissues and hand sanitizer. Can you feel my tears flowing through my fingers into this post? It’s not that I don’t enjoy structure and occupied kids. It’s just that I enjoy lack of structure and adventure more.

Anyway, back to my emails. Car rider line. I know most schools do this. It makes it a lot easier (supposedly) for drop off and pick up. Morning is always pretty smooth for us. We rush into the line while I simutaneously tell Liam to wipe the breakfast off his face-but not with your sleeve dangit!!!- while trying to avoid eye contact with the perfectly dressed at o-dark-thirty moms and wishing I had put a bra on. We roll right up, I shove, I mean lovingly wave, Liam out the car.

Afternoons are another story. I leave approximately 20 minutes after getting home from dropping him off in order to get a spot in the line that isn’t blocking traffic on the main road. I proceed to sit for 10 hours and overheat my car while my 3 year old cries from having to be woken up early from nap and then tells me he has to pee. Then once school is out we inch forward at about 1 mph for another hour until I reach my kid. Once my door is opened, after all that, I have approximately 0.00004 seconds to get him buckled and drive away.

So how does that work safely? Well, it depends.

Look, I know it stinks to sit. And sit. And sit some more. But I can’t even begin to tell you the sheer number of toddlers and babies I see on mom’s laps in the car line, even when the cars are moving. I see kids hanging out back windows and bopping around the backseat while the driver is browsing her/his phone. But guess what? Not only is that driver on her phone, so is the one behind her. And the one behind him. So what happens when that person is browsing Facebook and forgets they aren’t in park and lets up the brake a little bit when laughing at the meme about car rider lines? They roll into the person in front of them. Guess what happens to that lap baby or front seat monkey toddler? Hopefully just a tumble onto the floor, but you probably would want me to spare you the visual of a small body getting hit point blank with an air bag. Or the 4 year old falling head first onto the pavement from an SUV window when leaning out and mom lets off the brake a bit to inch forward. These aren’t freak accidents. These are situations that could easily happen. It might mean you need more wine later that night or you need to put the Moana soundtrack on repeat. Maybe you need to give into the no snacks in the car rule and bust out the Cheerios. Whatever it takes but PLEASE, keep your children buckled when in the car rider line. This includes your student until you have pulled up to the drop off point and they are ready to get out.

So what about the rush after you pick them up? I don’t know about your school but the pressure IS ON after Liam’s feet hit the floorboards. He’s in a booster this year and can get buckled quickly. Earlier this year I had to get out and run (all the more reason to wear a bra!) over to his side to buckle him. Fortunately his school supports “no one moves till everyone is buckled” but it doesn’t mean it’s not stressful, especially if you have more than one kid to buckle up. But I think we can all agree that we love each others’ kids and want whats best for all of them, even if that means waiting an extra minute for the mom in front of us to buckle her twins. Solidarity ya’ll. It’ll get us through.

So please buckle those kids. Even when it’s annoying and inconvenient. You’ll feel frazzled but I promise you will feel grateful if you’re on the receiving end of a Facebook meme fender bender. That booger and Cheerio covered little face will be peering back at you in your rear view mirror, right where it’s supposed to be.

Now here’s to a few more weeks of summer. May they go quick for you all who are longing for school, and may they be filled with last minute adventures for the summer lovers. Stay safe in all you do!

“Some words you never heard ‘less you come from down yonder”

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I’ve lived in a lot of areas of the country and one of the most interesting things I’ve found about different regions isn’t the weather or the natural wonders. It’s the culture of language.  I have heard so many awesome things come out of people’s mouths that I really wish I had started a journal of it a long time ago.

My grandparents and great grandparents on both sides were German immigrants, transplanted into the Midwest. I distinctly remember some of the phrases my grandma had. I’m not sure if they were Midwest things or just a “crazy German grandma” thing but I’ve carried a lot of them with me. Bugs weren’t called bugs, they were called millers. I could scream as a spider the size of my head crawled in front of me and my grandma would tsk tsk me and say, “Oh that’s just a miller” and proceed to dump some unknown and probably toxic/illegal substance from a jug under the sink on it. If I was excited, I was “pooping purple stars”. Speaking of poop, if you had diarrhea, you had the skitters. If us kids were being rowdy, we had better calm down and behave or someone was gonna put a knot in our tail.

I’ve lived in the South for awhile now and I’ll tell you that this place doesn’t disappoint if you’re looking for colorful phrases. Obviously we all know about our hearts being blessed. If someone with a monogrammed bag and a Simply Southern t-shirt blesses your heart, you’ve probably done something stupid. I had a bad bout of vertigo a few years ago and was called “Cooter Brown” multiple times. I finally looked it up and apparently Cooter Brown was a fictitious guy who lived on the Mason Dixon line and was always drunk and stumbling around so he wouldn’t get drafted during the Civil War. So I guess when I’m dizzy I resemble a draft dodging drunk guy.

You’re as ugly as the day is long. Something crooked is cattywampus. Oh and farts are real popular around here. When we don’t get rain it’s as dry as a popcorn fart. The daughter of a patient of mine referred to her father with dementia as being confused as a fart in a fan factory. You stink? You could knock a fly off a gut wagon. Not sure what a gut wagon is but I guess I don’t wanna be on one.

Here in NC you don’t ask for a soda or a pop. You ask for a coke. Doesn’t mean you want a Coke. There’s a difference. Besides, it better be a Cheerwine you’re after or you’re a sinner.

I never cease to be entertained. It’s also funny to hear some phrases I grew up saying come out of other people’s mouths and know it’s not just something I made up as a kid. CarSeatBlog is read by people from all over so I’d love to hear some phrases popular in your area! Every region is so different so please share!

 

Sssssssssssspring and sssssssssssssssssummer ssssssssssssssssafety

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I had this all written up and then realized there probably are people out there with some legit fears of snakes. So as a courtesy to those who don’t want any sort of snake talk/pictures/nonsense, I’m going to tell you this post contains all of the above. 🙂

The other day I was in the garage wrapping up an addition to the chicken coop. I was carrying a panel of wood across the driveway and sidewalk out to the side of the house when my bare (yes I know, I’m a cavewoman. I hate things on my feet) foot got tripped up under what I thought was the hose. I had finished watering our blueberry bushes prior to starting the coop panel and had left the hose laying across the sidewalk in true sloppy Alicia fashion. I let out a string of choice words because hey, it was naptime and I can say whatever the heck I want, and kicked the hose out of the way. Except what flew off to the side wasn’t the hose. It was a seemingly never ending length of snake. I proceeded to turn inside out and emit a sound I will never be able to reproduce again. When I recovered, I looked down to see what I was dealing with. A few feet away from me was a shiny black snake with telltale yellowish markings, looking at me like he was insulted. A king snake!

Doesn’t look like the hose but sure as heck felt like it!

Have you ever seen a king snake devour a copperhead? Of course you probably haven’t, but you’re missing out. Ya’ll, I was about to pour this guy a beer at this point and beg him to stay because we live in the South and copperheads this summer are no joke. We practically live outside, we live in a rural area, and have woods bordering our house where our kids play and have forts, walked paths, and other secret kid areas. My biggest fear is one of them stumbling upon a copperhead. So if this harmless 3.5 foot long guy wanted to hang out and eat my biggest fears, I would pay him to do it. Unfortunately he wasn’t impressed with being kicked and I haven’t seen him since.

Kinda guy you want hanging around. Unless you like venomous snakes and rodents.

Winter this past year was generally mild, and the snakes and bugs have been out full force. I haven’t seen so many snake bites in a long time. Our emergency rooms are full of people with unfortunate copperhead encounters. I’m not sure if it’s similar in other parts of the country but for those of you here in the South, you know what I’m talking about. 

So what can you do? Well obviously stay away from them and if you come across one, don’t try to scare it away. Just leave. Most snakes will flee when they hear you coming. That’s all pretty common sense because most of us (normal) people don’t go looking to snakes to trip on. Chances are, any snake you encounter is actually going to be harmless. Where I live, there are about 42 species of snakes and only 6 are venomous.  Here’s a few tips:

-Don’t be like me and walk around barefoot while building chicken coops. Wear closed toed shoes when walking through brushy areas especially.

-Look where you step. Not all snakes are brightly colored like my little friend. Most of them blend right in to the ground and are simply trying to stay hidden. If you step on them, they’re going to bite you simply out of fear. If you notice them before you step, you can move away and everyone’s life can go on. Don’t step where you can’t look first; walk around things instead of stepping over them.

-Keep your yard clean. Don’t like the idea of a snake infestation? Then keep your yard clear of debris, logs, branches, junk, etc. Snakes like to hide and if there’s nowhere to hide then they will probably keep moving on.

-Educate yourself and your kids. Knowledge is power. My kids can identify all venomous snakes in our area. They know they aren’t allowed to touch any snake, even if they know for a fact it’s a harmless rat snake, but I feel like it’s important for them to know what they see.

If you follow these tips, your chances of being bit are low. If you do manage to get bit, stay as still and calm as you can. Don’t apply a tourniquet or go old school and suck out venom.  Don’t decide it’s a good time to get drunk and tell your friends…alcohol and caffeine increase absorption rate of venom. Most importantly, don’t try to catch the snake! Leave it alone and get away. If it’s safe to snap a quick picture for identification then do so but don’t do it at the expense of your safety/time. A lot of the time complications from snake bites are actually from bacterial infections, not the venom itself but that doesn’t mean you can clean it up yourself and “wait and see”. Get yourself to an emergency room stat and get treatment. Chances are the snake was biting out of fear and not to kill, so the amount of venom received is low. If it turns out to be nonvenomous then everyone wins.

Harmless black snake on my mom’s house.

Sssso uh, I hear you guyssss have air conditioning in there…

Now that I’ve thoroughly skeeved you out, enjoy your summer! The more you know, the more you are armed to keep yourself safe. No need to walk around in fear of moving tube socks with eyes in your yard. Just treat them like that annoying neighbor- no eye contact, wide movements, and prevention, prevention, prevention! Ssssssssssssssssstay sssssssssssssssssssafe.