“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!

 

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Don’t Skimp on Safety When Traveling this Summer

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My family and I recently drove from Chicago to Disney World and back. Although some people might cringe at the thought of a family road trip of that length, we kind of like it. Plus, even factoring in hotels, gas, and extra meals, driving was cheaper than flying, and we didn’t have as many baggage restrictions.

As much as I enjoy road trips, I’d be lying if I said I don’t feel some trepidation each time we set out on one. I guess that goes with the territory of being a safety advocate who is all too aware of the dangers of car crashes. We do our best to be prepared, though.

Before this trip, my husband took our van in to have the tires rotated and inspected. We learned that we were close to needing to replace the tires. Due to a few unexpected house repairs, necessary appliance purchases, and lots of medical expenditures, the last thing we wanted was to spend more money on tires. We discussed holding off until after the trip. Assuming the recommendation was a conservative one, we even discussed not replacing the tires at all since we might trade the car in next year.

But the treads were getting close to being concerning, and ultimately my husband and I are both too safety conscious to take the risk, so we got the new tires.

A few days later we were driving through Georgia when we ran into some horrible storms south of Atlanta. These were among the worst storms I’ve ever driven in—the type where at times you can barely even see in front of you. I would have liked to pull off the road, but there were no safe opportunities. Instead we stayed with the flow of traffic (which was thankfully slow) and maintained a safe distance from the car ahead of us.

At one point we encountered a flooded section of interstate. We weren’t able to stop or swerve, so our only option was to drive through the enormous puddle. For a couple seconds, it was like being in a car wash: We could see absolutely nothing and could only hope that we wouldn’t hit the car in front of us (or get hit by the car behind us).

Thankfully no one crashed. After we took a few breaths, my husband said, “I’m really glad we got these new tires.” I can’t say for sure that things would have been different with our old ones, but I wouldn’t want to find out, either.

If you’re planning any road trips this summer, here are some guidelines to follow to ensure your trip is safe and pleasant.

  • Check your tires. (See? There was a reason for my story.) Check the tire pressure, check the treads. Have the tires rotated if they’re due, and invest in new ones if you need to.
  • Have your car serviced. Make sure it’s in prime operating condition before you hit the road.
  • Check for recalls.
  • Pack well. Avoid putting heavy luggage in the passenger area. If you have an open cargo area, put heavier items on the bottom and lighter items on top. Use cargo covers or tie-downs to help keep things in place. On long trips, it’s inevitable that you’ll have some books, toys, and electronics around the passengers, but try to keep items stored when they’re not being used.
  • Make sure everyone is properly restrained. Some people want to turn rear-facing kids forward-facing for long trips, but avoid that temptation. Besides being less safe, it’s less convenient. Kids are more likely to drop stuff when they’re forward-facing since they’re no longer sitting in a “bowl,” and their legs dangle uncomfortably and kick your seat. Plus, rear-facing kids are in a better position to sleep comfortably.
  • Use apps safely. Navigation apps like Waze can help alert you to hazards and unsafe road conditions. Be responsible with how you use them, though: It’s best if a passenger is in charge of anything app-related. We don’t want a distracted driver.
  • Avoid drowsy driving. Some people like driving at night so they can arrive sooner, they can avoid hotel costs, and so the kids will (ideally) sleep in the car. Unless you’re used to operating vehicles at night, though, this might not be the best idea. Fatigue is a real safety concern, especially on unfamiliar roads in nighttime conditions. Pay attention to fatigue during the day, too. Pull off if you get drowsy.
  • Take frequent breaks. I get the temptation to power through and just get there already, but taking breaks results in happier kids and refreshed adults (especially the driver). Stop for food or an exercise break every few hours or whenever the driver needs to. Frisbees, balls, and pocket kites can be fun ways to get out some energy at rest stops or parks, or just play tag or Simon Says.
  • Keep an emergency kit. Make sure you have things like water and snacks, bandaids, and a flashlight. We have something like this jump-starter/air compressor, which also includes 12-volt and USB outlets.

As you set out on your summer travels, have fun and stay safe.

Fireworks Safety: Don’t Let Your Kids Do What I Did.

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You know the people.  They matter-of-factly inform you that your concern about carseat safety is ridiculous.  Never mind that motor vehicle crashes are still among the top few causes of fatal injury to children.  After all, they rode without any carseat or seatbelt when they were a kid, and they’re still around to lecture you 40 years later!  Never mind that nearly twice as many kids died each year in motor vehicle crashes in the 1970s than today, even though there were so many fewer vehicles and miles driven back then.  The truth is that they are lucky never to have been in a crash while unrestrained or improperly restrained!

I can say the same about fireworks.  I’m lucky to have all my fingers and eyes intact.  From bottle rocket wars to making our own homemade fireworks from others we disassembled.  I’d say we were also very lucky none of our houses or nearby parks burned!  So, if you let your children use fireworks at all, please just make sure they are properly supervised at all times.   Don’t let your kids do what I did…

 

Safe Kids has some fireworks safety tips as well.  And some statistics from the National Fire Protection Association:

2017 Update: Safest Affordable Used Cars for Families and Teens

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Safest Used Cars Deals under $10K in 2017 for Teen Drivers

Many families put a high priority on safety for their kids.  Unfortunately, for various valid reasons, most are not able to go out and buy a brand new car with the latest safety features.  Perhaps others are buying a car for a teen or college student and want something safe, but don’t want them wrecking a new car!  Earlier this year, the IIHS evaluated hundreds of cars to produce a list of recommended models for teens.  A similar list was created by Consumer Reports.

I have somewhat different criteria for my teen drivers, with more emphasis on crash test results and safety features.  For example, while I also exclude the smallest sub-compact and “micro” vehicles, I have no issue with my teen driving a compact sedan if it is above around 2,750 lbs., but only if it has great crash test results.  While compact cars do give up a little in terms of weight in a frontal crash, they are generally more maneuverable and easier to handle and park.  That’s important for new drivers.  And of course, compact cars are less expensive to buy and maintain.  I am also more concerned about having top results in all the actual crash tests, including the new IIHS small overlap test, and less concerned about certain other results that Consumer Reports and the IIHS factor into their recommendations.

Unfortunately, the IIHS excludes compact sedans from their list, even top performing models with many safety features and decent all-around crash test scores, including their own small overlap test.  In fact, some models they recommend do very poorly in this newer crash test.  Like Consumer Reports, many of their recommendations are well over $10,000.

My Requirements?

  1. 4-star or better NHTSA overall rating
  2. No “2-star” or “1-star” ratings in any individual NHTSA crash test or rollover rating.
  3. No “Marginal” or “Poor” IIHS crash test results in ANY crash test, including the newer small overlap test
  4. Around $10,000 or less to buy.
  5. Good visibility and handling.
  6. Stability control and side-curtain airbags.
  7. No minicars, sub-compacts or any model below 2,750lbs.  Weight is a bad thing on roads, I know.  More mass means more kinetic energy and more wasted fuel.  But when the other guy is driving a 5,000 lb. truck, the smallest cars become splatter.

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