Friday, May 8, 2015

They Grow Up So Fast

Sometimes I see pictures from when my kids were much younger, from when they were babies and toddlers. I’ll get a tiny pang of nostalgia for when they smelled like Johnson’s lavender baby wash and then I’ll quickly regain my senses. Most everyone I know subscribes (at least publicly) to the please-stay-little-forever mantra, where they wish they could keep their child in a state of perpetual baby-hood and always have them in your lap.

Confession: I don’t feel that way. I’m guessing I’m not alone, but people are afraid to go on the record and say that they actually enjoy their older kids. I’m sure a lot of people do feel the same as me, but it’s not often, if ever, that you hear anyone say it. I’m glad they’re all out of diapers, completely potty-trained, and I don’t have to wipe someone’s butt on a daily basis, something I did daily from November 29, 2001 until sometime around December 2010. There are fewer tantrums, less Caillou, and no more Disney Junior. I’m glad that we can rock out to Fall Out Boy and Oasis while we’re riding to school in the morning instead of having to suffer through Dora’s latest and greatest hits and misses. Gone are the days when I don’t have to constantly ask, “What’s in your mouth?!” and then fish out some random piece of debris. “Was that cat food or something else?” “AWWWWWW! Don’t eat THAT!” They can play in the yard without having to constantly be warned to stay out of the street. I don’t worry about them suddenly toppling over and bashing their head against the bricks on the hearth. My outlets are free from plastic obstacles, I open cabinets and drawers without hesitation, and the bleach can live under the kitchen sink again. Stairs are ascended and descended with ease and I don’t freak the freak out hoping they won’t go crashing down from two steps from the top. I can let an ugly word slip without fear of it being repeated in front of God and everyone at church. (Don’t fib, you know you’ve done it too.)

I know the teen years will be fraught with their own set of worries and struggles, but at least they can fully understand my words when they’ve screwed up and can know precisely why they’ve been given certain consequences. They can also understand the value of work and that it may result in a little green in their pocket. They’re at the point now where they can stay alone for a while during the day and I don’t necessarily have to have a babysitter stay with them. They can try new things and succeed or fail, and be able to understand the lessons learned along the way. It’s wonderful to see them developing into their personality rather than trying to catch a glimpse of who they are as a person after they’ve had four meltdowns in the same day. I’ve always loved watching them achieve things, but now I get the added joy of knowing that they were able to figure it out without much, if any, input from me.

I’m glad I’ve arrived at this season of my life. I always knew I’d enjoy them even more when they got a little older, and now I am at peace with saying it out loud. I’ve always loved and adored them, from the time they were a pink line on a stick, but now it’s an enjoyable time of life where I get to sit back and watch my years of work come to fruition, that they might reach their full potential as they grow into adults.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Play Dates to Day Dates

When I first started this blog, my children were still very much dependent on me for most of their daily needs. We were still in diapers, sippy cups, and high chairs. I was in search of a play date at least once per week in order to keep my sanity and to let little people expend some energy.

Play dates aren’t really in my vernacular anymore. Now it’s Justice, Fall Out Boy, Hot Topic, Attack on Titan, XBOX, Call of Duty…the list goes on. My eldest, Poodle, is in middle school and most days leaves me scratching my head and wondering which series she just referenced. The most recent blip on the radar is that which never goes out of style: boys. Oh yes, there’s a boy. I won’t share all her business, but let’s just say these two are over the moon for one another. They’re playing XBOX together, texting ALL day (when they can), and wanting to see each other at any opportunity.

I just sent her off with him and his mom so they can go to the arcade together. (How’s that for old-fashioned fun?) As I walked back into the house, it occurred to me that she’s sorta kinda on a date. It’s a day date, and they’re supervised, but they’re going off together to have fun and enjoy each other’s company. Sounds like a date to me. A day date.

Somewhere along the way, everyone was finally potty trained, the high chair was donated to charity, and all the sippy cups stopped being used. I can’t tell you the exact day those things happened. Now we’re in a new season of life. It feels simultaneously weird, surreal, and rocket-propelled but somehow it feels normal too.

I love watching her (and all of them) grow and develop. Seeing it happen to them makes me feel young again, yet very old, all at the same time. Some people want their babies to stay small forever. I’m ready to watch as they grow and blossom into this next season of their lives.

Part of me feels I should change the name of my blog because I’m no longer cramming a sippy cup into my purse. I think it would not give credit to how far they have come and how much they’ve grown. Y’all know I’ll always carry my couture, but maybe now I’m stuffing dance tickets and receipts for football games in it now.

Don’t stay small, Poodle. Grow into who God made you to be, and do it with the tenacity and vivaciousness that thrives in you.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015


In my mid-to-late teens, I was into so-called alternative music. The radio station I listened to would play an hour-long show over lunch called The House of Retro Pleasure. They’d play punk, alternative, new wave hits of the 80s in the mid-90s. This is when I first heard and became familiar with a song by U2 called Sunday Bloody Sunday. That was the extent of my familiarity with the phrase Bloody Sunday until some time later.

This past weekend was the 50th anniversary of the Bloody Sunday riots and the march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, just a little more than an hour’s drive from my home. There was a massive gathering; somewhere around 80,000 people was what I heard and read in news reports. This march was peaceful. You’re well aware that the original was not. I won’t rehash history, but you all know that people were beaten and bloodied and maimed in that first march. Go back and read that sentence again.

Key word? PEOPLE.

Fellow humans were beaten because they wanted to vote. People just like you and me. People with thoughts and dreams and feelings and families were treated like animals because they dared to think themselves as human.

Now, fast forward to today. Fifty years on. Two thousand fifteen. 2015.

Come on, people. We’re so progressive and inclusive and tolerant nowadays, yet some people are still stuck in 1965. It infuriates me to think that there are other white people who are still so closed-minded, so immature, so filled with hate (despite many of them calling themselves Christians), that we are STILL having to deal with this level of foolishness. Confession: if I see a shady looking black guy, I’m going to make some evasive moves. Guess what: I’m also going to do the exact same thing if I see a shady looking white guy.

When can we take off the blinders and begin to LOVE one another? Why is there a fraternity in Oklahoma that’s now completely cut off from its university? Because they chose to be ignorant and intolerant fools. Maybe if they chose to get to know black men and welcomed them into their fraternity, they’d realize they might be missing out on some real fun.

I don’t know exactly where I’m going with this, but I just know it pisses me off.

When I think back over my life, I remember the little girls I was friends with as I grew up. They weren’t always little white girls that looked just like me. There was Charmaine in the first grade. She was a sweet little girl of Asian descent. We ran and played every day on the playground. In third through fifth grades, I had a friend named LaToya. Wanna know what made us friends? Our phone numbers. Mine was 724-1628 and hers was 724-1678. I didn’t see her as a black girl; I saw her as my friend. She was sassy and dressed cute and always had her hair done up in several cute little pigtails all over her head. Another girl named Sabrina always ran laps with me during PE. When I’d get tired and would want to quit, Sabrina would always encourage me to keep running. In high school there was a guy named LaMacy. He was witty and just a fun guy to be around. He always had a smile and a sarcastic remark that was all in fun. He was that way with everyone, even when people tried to play that ugly race card. As I fast-forward to my adult life, I think of April. April is stylish, always well dressed, has impeccable taste, and brings an unmatched level of beauty and grace to the role of preacher’s wife. Then there’s Kristen, who is a fellow CPST and all-around Super Smart Chick Who’s Going Places. Kristen makes me smile and has the whole package of brains and beauty. There’s also Sherrie. Sherrie is kind, loving, peaceful, and has just the right amount of sass. I’ve never met her in person, but I’ve no doubt that she’d give you the shirt off her back if you needed it. Without the people who risked so much, I might not know these extraordinary people.

A Christian author named Jen Hatmaker had this to say this morning on Facebook:

“What will it take for the majority to finally say: "This is happening." What more do we need to see? What other tragedies will validate what is plainly going on? How many voices of lament must we hear before we hit our knees in solidarity, repent for the shameful systems that built and reinforced racial inequality, and join hands with our minority brothers and sisters and say NO MORE? Hell, a strong first step is simply to say WE BELIEVE YOU.”

Time will tell which side of history we all wind up on. As for me, I want to be on the side of LOVE. When will the majority stand up and say “NO MORE!” God, help ME to say it from today forward.

Red and yellow, black and white. They are precious in His sight.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Add Friend *click*

I have something I must share, because keeping it to myself and to my immediate environment just isn’t doing a bit of good. I’ve been praying about it, and have asked other people to pray about it under the guise of the “I have an Unspoken Prayer Request” umbrella of vagueness. I feel I must apologize in advance, because I feel that I’m going to hurt people along the way, but I won’t apologize for my feelings as that’s exactly what they are: MY feelings. All that being said…

Newsflash: I don’t have any close friends. Really.

I spend a LOT of time online, particularly on your favorite site and mine: Facebook. By a lot, I mean hours every day. Yes, every day. I hear what you’re saying, “Go out and do something!” “Take a walk!” etc. That’s just the thing. I want to do those things. I want to do things with a friend. Do I spend too much time on Facebook because I don’t have any friends, (and I’m seeking a connection in any way possible) or do I not have any friends because I spend too much time on Facebook?

I knew it was a reality, but it was harshly shoved in my face when I recently turned 40 and I had no one with whom I could celebrate. Sure, there’s the family thing, but no one called me up and excitedly invited me for a celebratory birthday lunch/coffee, etc. I went out and treated myself to a cupcake. Alone. Now, I didn’t expect for the population of metro Birmingham to come rushing to my door, but I have to level with you when I say I felt completely alone and forgotten that day, as I do most days. It felt like an ordinary day, if I’m being honest.

I’ve been largely friend-less since I was a senior in high school. I’ve met people and have lost touch, moved away, grown apart, etc. over the years, but there’s only been maybe three people over the past 22 years who I felt really had my back in a time of need. I don’t even have college friends, sorority sisters, or anything of the sort because I really didn’t “do” college. I had a lot of drama in my life at that point in time and it just didn’t work out. Regardless of the cause, I missed out on that portion of my life. Even if I could return to college, it’s not like I’d fit in with the standard crowd. It’d be nothing short of hysterical and pathetic to see a 40 year old woman trying to rush Kappa Kappa Gamma.

Right now, I don’t feel like there’s anyone I could call if I had an emergency in the middle of the night. You know, THAT kind of friend. The one you text at 3AM because you NEED her. The kind that doesn’t mind if you text her at 3AM.

I have TONS of acquaintances; people I see regularly and people I see infrequently. It’s good to have acquaintances and contacts as you call on each other from time to time for a favor, etc.. but there’s no one person (save my husband) with whom I feel I have that strong sister/friend bond. I crave it so very much. The kind with whom I can share a silly inside joke that will still be as funny in 20 years as it is when it’s first shared.

Most of the time, I feel like I just don’t fit into the invisible mold that’s around here. You probably don’t even know it exists unless you have lived elsewhere. Everywhere I go it’s as if I’m standing on the edge of a circle of people holding hands. You’re privy to what’s going on in the circle, but you’re never an actual component of the circle. You want someone to unlock hands with their neighbor and have those two links grab your hand and pull you inside, but it doesn’t happen. I try to dress like the locals and natives do. I try and engage people in conversation by trying to be funny or witty, or talking about something they’re interested in. Nothing ever clicks. I can’t seem to find anyone who shares my interests, or vice versa. I’ve lived here in Birmingham for more than six years now, and some days I feel like I just moved here two weeks ago. I don’t know why I can’t make a connections. At times I’ve honestly wondered if I was so off-putting that no one wanted to be around me, or if I smelled weird, or was just too fat to be seen with, or just too weird/annoying. I get jealous and depressed when I see groups of women/moms going out for a night on the town, a concert, etc. I long to be a part of something that’s beyond my iPad screen.

People say their friends live in the computer. Right now, that’s exactly where mine live. One lives in Texas and the other in Iowa. They’re the only people I have that I can spill my guts to and still ‘look them in the eye’, so to speak, the next day. They’re wonderful, lovely, trustworthy people. But as much as I love them, they can’t come hold my hand in the middle of the night if I needed them to do so. I can’t call them up and say, “Meet me at Starbucks in 20 minutes!”

So, may I attempt to sell myself? Not in a prostitute kind of way, but in a “contents include” kind of way.

I like/love:

All things British/English. That includes the monarchy. I follow what they do, but not in a stalker kind of a way, just in an ‘I’m fascinated by this lifestyle’ kind of way. I do enjoy the occasional hot cuppa. (That’s hot tea, in case you didn’t know.) I have an unhealthy obsession with cramming my head full of facts and trivia relating to England and their monarchy and the kings and queens they’ve had over a thousand years. I’m even known to occasionally say ‘God Save The Queen!’ (and sometimes I’m not joking!).

I adore Starbucks. Ask me for a coffee date and I’ll almost always say yes.

I love spelling and grammar. I love to correct other people’s spelling and grammar. Please don’t shy away if yours isn’t perfect. Mine isn’t always perfect either.

I’m a professing, practicing Christian. I’m into Jesus. I’m into God. If you’re not, that’s okay. I can still love you as you are, (as Christ has commanded me to do) because Jesus loves me as I am.

I have three noisy, sassy kids. I call them The Vikings. They’re loud and rowdy and they leave a path of destruction in their wake, that’s why.

I have a Rottweiler that lives in my house. She’s a big baby. She will lick you to death before she will bite you. I say weird things to her in German to make her bark and growl.

I adore overpriced purses and handbags. Don’t make fun of me because I will spend $300 on a Kate Spade handbag. Don’t give me a hard time because I want to own a Louis Vuitton, despite the fact that they cost nearly $1,000. I don’t drink wine, alcohol, beer. I don’t buy shoes and I wear clothes from Target. Purses are my vice. Stand next to me when I walk into Saks Fifth Avenue and fork over 11 $100 bills to own a designer bag.

My favorite color is blue.

I am a certified child passenger safety technician, or CPST. I install car seats and will tell you more than you ever wanted to know about some of them.

I love cake. Like seriously LOVE cake. I am a cake snob. I don’t like grocery store cake. (Yes, Publix, Sam’s and Costco have GROSS cake.)

I like different kinds of music. I will sing to the point of embarrassing my kids if “MY JAM!” comes on while I’m driving. Loosen up and sing along with me. Or tell me to loosen up and shout it out with you.

I like Apple products. Don’t expect me to understand how to unlock your Android device and I won’t expect you to use my iPhone.

I love history and talking about history.

I love makeup and I’m not afraid to drop $18 on eyeliner.

I’m weird. Super duper weird.

I occasionally like to speak in different accents. Just roll with it if I bust into Jewish Mom from Long Island mode.

I’m fiercely loyal. I expect you to be that way too.

I will keep your secrets. If you tell me something in confidence, I will not blab. It’s not my news, or my place, to tell.

Those are the things that immediately come to mind. Maybe if you become my bestie, we can expand each other’s horizons.

It’s been really hard to write this. I’m sure it’ll be even harder to publish it, and then share it to Facebook so it actually gets read. I’m scared now. Scared of what people are going to think after they’ve read it. Will I be met with pity the next time I see some of you? Will I get a sideways glance because you think I’m nuts? Some of you are probably reading this and just think I’m pathetic. I don’t know. I do know that I don’t want to hear “I’m so sorry” or any other sympathetic pleas. What I want right now is a friend, and after sitting and waiting for so long, this is the only way I know to reach out.

Disciple I people, this has been my Unspoken. Now you know.

Who’s ready to be my bestie?

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Crash Course

Have you ever had the feeling that you know too much; that you wish you didn’t know as much as you did, then certain things wouldn’t bother you as badly as they do? Well, that’s where I’ve arrived. And let me tell you, it simultaneously sucks AND pisses me right off.

I’m a mother of three children. You mess with my kids and I will mess you up. I will make a mama bear look tame. I would jump in front of a freight train to save their lives. It’s likely that you’d do the same.


You can’t be bothered to use their car seat correctly.

You’re screaming down the road at 75 MPH, your latte in one hand and you’re gabbing to Aunt Frances about Little Caitlin’s First Birthday Party on speakerphone, and Caitlin is screaming her little head off in the back seat while big brother Tristan is singing the theme song from Diego just loudly enough to lodge itself in the one free part of your brain that’s currently helping you keep it between the ditches.

Suddenly, you stop, and not as you intended to stop. You’re now sideways against another vehicle. (I’ll let you pick here: Honda Civic, Toyota Tacoma, dump truck, semi…at this point it doesn’t really matter.)

Tristan is unconscious because he has “submarined” under the adult sized seatbelt that was restraining his booster seat that you insisted on putting him in because “He’s three and he’s a big boy!” and he’s now in the floor. Caitlin is screaming louder than ever because she’s just taken a ride up the back side of her rear facing seat because her straps were too loose and she slid up the back of the seat and promptly went back down with a hard THUD on her little cloth diapered bottom. (No offense to you cloth diaperers out there.) Meanwhile, you’re covered in your grande latte and Aunt Frances thinks you hung up on her.

Quite the picture, huh?

“Well, that won’t happen to me! I’m a safe driver!”

Guess what? That fool texting and shifting gears to pass you is NOT a safe driver. The semi driver who’s been driving since Ft. Worth, Texas is kind of sleepy and didn’t mean to drift over into your lane.

Here’s the bottom line: I want you to USE YOUR CAR SEATS CORRECTLY!!!!! It’s SO easy. Really. I promise. I’ll even show you how, tell you how, whatever it takes to make you USE the seat CORRECTLY. They’re made and designed a certain way to help protect your child in an accident. The seats that are out today are totally different than the seats that were available ten years ago. Every time (and I mean EVERY time) I’m out in public, I see at least one thing wrong with someone’s car seat use. I can spot it in the car next to me at a red light and I can spot it at the other end of the aisle in Target or Publix. I see it in your Facebook posts and it makes me want to pull my hair out.

First, before you buy a seat, do a little research. Explore multiple brands. Don’t fixate on just one brand. A seat that costs $55 is just as safe as a seat that costs $400. They ALL must pass a 35 MPH crash test in order to be made available for sale in the USA. “My friend bought a Britax and she says they’re just the best seat out there.” Newsflash: Britax is NOT the best seat. Neither are any of the others. If you don’t hear anything else, hear this:


That’s the best seat. Honest. Scout’s Honor.

When you do finally decide on which seat meets all of that criteria, then go home, take it out of the box, and then READ THE MANUAL. Guess what? There’s really critical info in that booklet that you need to know and that could save your child’s life. I know it’s not going to be as thrilling as a John Grisham novel, but it’s put in the box for a reason. If you don’t understand something, call the company and ask them what it means or get them to clarify something for you.

Let’s talk about rear facing versus forward facing. (From here on out, RF or FF, respectively.) I see somewhat of a “milestone mentality” when it comes to RF vs. FF. People think that because their child has turned one year old they should just turn them around so they can see. Newsflash: They don’t care. And they’re not going to be sitting back there telling you to turn left at the third stop sign. Their little bodies are still fragile and their bones haven’t quite fused yet. Wanna hear what can happen if you get in a frontal crash? No? I’m going to tell you anyway. It’s called internal decapitation. Granted, that’s a worst-case scenario, but it’s essentially cutting their head off inside, but everything on the outside appears to be normal. Their little spinal cord can snap. What happens to us (adults) in a crash? Generally, we get some whiplash. When you have that happen to a child whose head is a large majority of its body weight, bad stuff happens internally. When they’re RF, the crash forces spread out all over the back of the head, all down the back and down to where their hips bend into the seat. Take a moment and poke yourself in the arm as hard as you can. Hurts, doesn’t it? Now, press the same spot just as hard, but with your palm flat open. Doesn’t hurt now, does it? That’s because you spread out the force over a larger area. It’s the same concept with your child’s neck and then their body into their seat. Regarding RF, since 2002 the American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended RF until AT LEAST two years old. The better choice is to RF to the maximum limits of your child’s particular seat, when they outgrow it by either height or weight. (Your manual will tell you specific height and weight for RF use.) A RF seat is outgrown when the child has reached the weight limit, or when they have less than one inch of the hard plastic shell over their head. It is completely OKAY to RF until they’re 35-45 lbs, or 3-4 years old. They don’t care that their legs are hitting the seat, or that they have to cross their legs to fit. There are far fewer instances of broken legs from a child being RF than a child suffering a traumatic injury because they were turned FF too soon. Remember this: Broken leg(s)? Cast it. Broken neck? Casket.

Your big kid is ready to turn around well past their second birthday. The longer you can RF, the better. When the time comes to turn to FF, continue to use the five-point harness. That harness is made to fit a little body. The adult sized seatbelt in your vehicle is not made to fit a child/toddler/baby. Have you ever been in a car that had child sized seatbelts? With the exception of a few makes of cars that had built-in child restraints, I’m gonna go out on a limb and say you haven’t. All of the belt systems in pretty much any vehicle are made for adults. Remember that when you think Tristan is ready to ride in that belt.

The five-point harness also has a height and weight limit. Again, read that manual. It’ll tell you the maximum weight limits for the harness. And speaking of harnesses, make sure you’re using it the right way. If the child is RF, those harness straps should be AT or BELOW their shoulders. If the child is FF, the straps should be AT or ABOVE the shoulders. When the seat is FF, those straps also need to be run through one of the seat’s reinforced slots. (Read the manual, it’ll tell you where they are!) There’s also a little device across the middle of the straps called a harness retainer clip, aka chest clip. Please take special note of the name I just used: CHEST clip. Not belly clip. That means it goes across the chest, generally about armpit level. Some of the new Evenflo seats have it embossed into the plastic right on the chest clip. It says “PLACE AT ARMPIT LEVEL” right across the bottom. One more thing about that harness: remember when we had our wreck earlier and Caitlin slid up the seat? She’s lucky she wasn’t ejected from the seat. She slid because her straps were too loose. There’s a place somewhere on your child’s seat to adjust the tightness of the harness. Most newer seats have it right on the front, and you just give it a tug until the harness is tight enough. I always tell people the harness should be “Snug as a hug”. That way, it’s not pressing them down into the seat so they can’t breathe, but it’s also not so loose that they could be ejected. (Yes, it CAN happen. I’ve read several reports of it happening. One child was even thrown from the car and into a snow bank because her harness was too loose.)

When it comes time to put the seat in the car, it’s not just a simple matter of buckling it into a seat. There’s a reason we call it car seat installation. First, use only ONE method to install: seatbelt OR LATCH, not both. The seat has been crash tested using both methods, but not using both methods at the same time. Neither is safer than the other. Use whichever method gets you the tightest installation. Just because you get a good install with LATCH in one vehicle does not mean you’ll get a good install with the same method in a different vehicle. Read your manual for specific instructions as to how to install the seat in a vehicle. You’ll also need to check your vehicle’s owner manual. (Yes, really.) Check your index and look for the section on child restraints or LATCH. Some vehicles are very specific on how seats can be installed in certain seating positions. Also, LATCH weight limits are changing. It used to be that you could use the LATCH system until the child was 65 pounds. Now, it’s changing from 65 pounds of child to a combined weight of 65 pounds of child AND seat. (If you’re unsure, ask me! I have a LATCH manual that will tell me exactly what those weight limits are for your vehicle and seat.) Once you reach that weight limit, you HAVE to use a seatbelt to install. After you get the seat in, you’re going to need to tighten it down. You’re looking for less than ONE INCH of movement AT THE BELT PATH. That goes for both LATCH and seatbelt. If you’re doing a RF install, it’s completely acceptable and normal to have movement at the top of the seat. If it’s FF, and there’s one available, use the top tether to keep the seat secure to the back of the vehicle’s seat. Having that tether in use can reduce head movement in a crash as much as FOUR inches. That’s a lot of movement when you’re talking about your child’s neck. If your vehicle doesn’t have top tethers, and you’d like your vehicle to have top tethers, a dealer can usually retrofit them to your car. If you’re interested, I can look up the part number in the aforementioned LATCH manual. You’ll also need to check to make sure the seat is level, and that it’s at the correct angle. There’s an indicator somewhere on the seat (or on the base for RF-only infant seats) that’ll tell you if the seat is level. There are stickers on the side of the seat that’ll show you the correct angle for RF and FF use.

Remember how I said I could spot your misuse from the other end of the aisle at Target? That’s because you’ve got the infant seat perched up on the top of the cart instead of down in the basket part. When you placed the infant seat on top of the seating area, you made that basket top-heavy. Turn the corner too sharp…and baby goes toppling over, seat and all. After you’ve paid and you’re unloading your groceries, the seat can roll away, tip over, hit a bump, etc. making your baby and/or their seat a projectile.

After the child has reached the maximum limits on the harness, then they’re ready to transition over to a high-back booster. This will help that adult sized seat belt we talked about earlier better fit their child sized body. Having a back on the booster will also encourage them to use the belt guide found on that type of seat. It’ll help the shoulder belt stay in the right spot and off their neck, which causes children to want to put the belt under their arm or behind their back. When the time comes, you want to make sure the shoulder belt lies flat against their collarbone, and is between the shoulder joint and the neck. The lap belt should be across the top of their thighs, below their hipbones. If the belt is up above their hipbones, it’s going to be resting on soft belly tissue. If you get in a crash, that belt is not going to stop until it hits something hard, usually the spine. What’s in between the child’s skin and their spine? All kind of vital organs. Let’s keep the belt low so it catches on their hips instead of their spine.

Now, you think you’re ready to ride without a booster? Think again. Not until they’re around 8-10 do they have the size and maturity to ride in an adult sized belt. To keep them as safe as they can be, use the Five-Step Test:

1. Seatbelt is low on the hips and high on the thighs.
2. Shoulder belt crosses the collarbone.
3. Butt is all the way back against the crack of the seat.
4. Knees bend easily over the edge of the seat, and feet rest flat on the floor.
5. The child can maintain an upright and correct posture, making sure the belt fits correctly, for the entire duration of any trip.

If you can answer YES to all five steps, then congratulations! Your child is ready to be out of a child restraint system. If you answer no to ANY of the questions, then they still need a booster. My oldest child was nearly ten before she passed all five steps, and my middle child is nine and is still in a no-back booster. It makes the belt fit him correctly and keeps him safer in the event of a crash. He passes the five-step test in my husband’s car, but not in my SUV. It varies from one vehicle to another.

Let’s revisit harnesses again.

When it’s cold outside, we bundle up. However, we don’t want to bundle up under the harness. For a simple demonstration as to why, go to YouTube and search for “Winter Coats and Car Seats Don’t Mix” by RanaAurora. She does a beautiful job of demonstrating the hows and whys, and seeing it gives a better understanding than me explaining it.

Please know and understand that when I offer tips and suggestions to correct misuse, it is NOT to make you feel like a failure or a bad parent or that you are just completely inept. I’m sincerely trying to HELP you keep your child as safe as they possible can be while you’re riding around town, or traveling across the country. I realize I've been quite harsh, but I'm sincerely tired of seeing so much misuse. My aim is to educate. We have the tools to keep them safe, let’s use them correctly. What would happen if we used a table saw incorrectly? We might lose a finger. What happens if you use your child’s car seat incorrectly? They could lose their life.

I’m always available to answer any questions you have, or to help you get the seat fitted the right way. There’s no shame in asking when it comes to the ones you’d risk your own life to save. Please let me know if I can help you in any way.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

31 Day Blog Challenge - Day Five

Today's challenge should be fun! The topic is: Favorite Movies You Never Get Sick of Watching

The first movie on that list is hands-down, without a doubt...(drumroll)

I *love* that movie! Always have, always will. I mean, how can you NOT love that movie with lines such as:

"What's happenin', hot stuff?"
"Last night at the dance, my little brother paid a buck to see your underwear."
"Ted, that's a Rolls Royce! Ted, that's the prom queen!"
"Who's he?" "That's me." "Well who are you?" "I'm him." "Oh. Okay."

Moving on...
Here are others, in no particular order:
O Brother, Where Art Thou? "Hop in, boys! I'm gonna R-U-N-N-O-F-T!"
Weird Science "How 'bout a nice, greasy pork sandwich served in a dirty ash tray?"
Titanic (Natch.) "I'll never let go, Jack!"
Ever After "There was a bee, Your Majesty."
Kingpin "...and how you got Miss Claudia to stop be so much of the whore that she is."
Coal Miner's Daughter "Stop a'growlin' at me, ya sound like an ol' berr."
Elizabeth "No, he shall live, so that I will always remember how close I came to danger."
Election "Good morning, Mr. McAlister. You look like you could use a cupcake."
The Breakfast Club "Could you describe the ruckus, sir?"
Fargo "Dee-ad! Are ya stayin' fer supperrrr?"
The Shawshank Redemption "Time to get busy livin' or get busy dyin'."
Shakespeare in Love "Have a care with my name. You will wear it out."
Aaaaand, my guilty pleasure is...
ATL. "Teddy ain't never been outside 285 in his life, and he proud of it."

Monday, March 4, 2013

31 Day Blog Challenge - Day Four

Today's challenge is: Best Childhood Memory

As I pondered this challenge, one thing kept coming to mind: Road Trips.

Road trips were a constant, a given, in my childhood. Whether it was to load up and take a trip from Waycross, GA or Jacksonville, FL all the way to see family in northern Alabama, or to hop in the car early one Saturday morning to chase a train (steam locomotive), or to meander all across the southeastern US, a great deal of my childhood was spent in the car. The trips from Jacksonville to Gadsden took for-ev-er (ten hours in reality), but on the same token, we could spend ten hours one Saturday chasing a train.
I knew how to get from Gadsden to Waycross before I even realized it. Case in point: I got sent back to my parents with a great aunt and uncle once in their RV. To this day, I still don't remember the trip. When they reached a certain point where they were supposed to turn off on some particular exit. My uncle didn't know exactly which way to go, but I did. I told him which way he needed to go and, lo and behold, I was right.
I've seen every single mile of I-75 in Georgia too many times to count. Oh, to have a dollar for every time I've seen the Adcock Pecans sign in Tifton. I knew we were close to Waycross once I saw Adcock Pecans. There's also the fighter jet on a stand near Warner Robins. Then you get down south of Tifton and it gets really flat, and the trees grow in perfect rows and the Spanish moss drips from the boughs of the trees. After you cross over into Florida, you go across the Suwannee River, complete with a little sign at the bridge with the musical notes to the familiar Stephen Foster song.

Yes, I spent many, many hours in the car during my childhood. I've counted phone poles, watched the power lines droop between poles, looked out the window at tar-paper shacks with a rusted tin roof and wondered what was inside. Thinking about it makes me nostalgic and wish that we weren't so rushed and always Needing Something To Do all the time.

Take a moment and think about your own childhood. I hope there are some happy memories buried somewhere for you.