Rant: Seatbelt vs LATCH, Never Both

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So, this is a rant. I’m just warning you now. A couple of days ago I saw a great post on facebook, posted by Carseats For the Littles. The post talked about whether using a seatbelt only install on your carseat or using the LATCH system was safer. If you don’t know, LATCH is a nifty little system that hooks the seat to anchors in your car without using the seatbelt. Some cars have these anchors, others don’t. Either way the article explains how both methods are equally safe if used separately. And in came the comments from parents.

“I use both, seems that it would be safer!”

Obviously the comments varied, but that’s the gist. Let me be clear, this is not what I am ranting about. As parents there are four million things that we are supposed to know, it is impossible for us to always know the right thing to do. However, as I read on through the comments (I know, why would I do that, what’s wrong with me) I saw certified carseat technicians reply back with a simple “Actually, that makes it unsafe, it can make the seat too tight or compromise the seat in a crash if both methods are used.” It even says in almost every carseat installation manual not to use both methods of installation at the same time. The only two seats that have been tested and approved to do this are the NUNA Pipa infant seat and the Clek Foonf convertible car seat. If you don’t have one of these two seats, you are putting your child at risk by going against the tests and instructions saying not to do both methods at the same time. So, what does one do in this situation? We say holy crap I can’t believe I missed that, time to adjust! Right?! Apparently not!! As I read on I saw the replies of these mothers who had been doing it both ways.

“My (insert name of carseat that is NOT one of the above two) says to do both ways.”

“I don’t trust one way or the other so I’m still going to do both.”

And my personal favorite, “I just *feel* that it’s safer, I feel more comfortable using both ways.”

WHAT! I just, I can’t. I’m speechless. There are so many areas of parenting that have tons of perfectly fine options to choose from. Limit screen time or let your child play tons of video games. Public school or private school or homeschool. Breastfeeding or formula feeding. This is not one of those areas. There is ONE way to safely install your child’s carseat and some of these parents would rather go against tons of research and actually put their child at risk because they have a feeling or because they have too much pride to admit that they had been doing it wrong from the start. Please, for the love of safety, swallow your pride. I did it! When I brought my child home from the hospital I put both the lap belt and the chest belt of the carseat through the hooks because I thought it was safer. No, that was wrong. I adjusted it and moved on. And THEN when we switched to a convertible carseat I had the seatbelt going through the “forward facing” slot instead of the rear one for a couple of weeks. Again, I admitted my mistake and fixed it. I know it is hard to be judged. I know that there are parents out there that will shake their head and you and say “wow, I can’t believe she screwed that up”. Well screw them. Your child’s safety should be much more important than continuing to do something the wrong way just to prove the point that you are the perfect mom who has never messed up. There are lots of Meany McJudgepants out there, but there are plenty of moms like myself who will not judge you on your mistakes, but will applaud you for growing and fixing them.  If you’d like more information about car seats and installation, I highly recommend you check out Car Seats for the Littles. They have TONS of articles on anything car seat related, have a list of recommended seats for all budgets, and have an awesome area where you can find a certified car seat technician to contact in your area with questions or to even come and help you install your seat.

 

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The Great Halloween Carnival

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Every town has at least one Halloween event, whether it be a carnival, a party, a trunk or treat, or corn maze. No matter the name, I hate them. Of course they are adorable and creative and the children are delighted to be there. But all of that awesomeness is surrounded in a big, transparent cloud of suck for most of the parents. I love the idea of them, and I love Halloween. During the months of March thru September I even look forward to them because by then I have downplayed the horrors of last year’s events. I will still be in attendance every year, though, because that’s what parenting is. Forcing yourself into ridiculous situations for the enjoyment of your children. And that’s okay, I can do that. I love seeing the giddy smile on my daughter’s face as she realizes we are in a place literally filled with candy. That, and the Reese’s cups I am definitely stealing later totally make up for the craziness.

Today we attended a Halloween carnival at our local community college. It was a darling event with great decorations, friendly staff, and creative games. I walked in, was greeted by a lovely woman offering my child candy and thought ahh, this is off to a great start. And then I remembered there were other people with their children here so, never mind. Having a two year old at these kind of events is harder because she’s old enough to want to participate but doesn’t have the attention span to wait in a line to fish for candy. We spent the first couple of minutes wandering around looking for something that she could do as she shouted out the names of other children’s costumes, often right in their faces with sheer intensity. I’d like to take a moment to sincerely apologize to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle that my daughter literally chased down while yelling, “It’s a TURTLE!”. We finally settled on cookie decorating where my daughter promptly licked the communal frosting knife (leading me to wonder how many times it had been licked before that) and then dropped her cookie covered in pitch black never comin’ off frosting on the floor. That whole event lasted about three minutes.

Next came the trick or treat bag decorating table. After finally finding an open seat, a lot of which were filled with parents who were unable to stand next to their child as they colored, I set my child up with the markers and let her have at it. It went great for awhile until other children wanted to use the markers. “It’s okay,” I told her, “We share the markers, you can use the orange and the other kids will use the other colors.” As I said this a much older child viciously grabbed up ALL of the markers and protectively kept them in the crook of her arm while my child stared on in horror (like she hadn’t ever done that before). Deciding she was done with that she hurried over to a nearby playhouse that had been set up. To her dismay there were already three kids in the playhouse and she turned to look at me in desperation. How dare there be other children in there, I should have the power to fix this! There’s no way in hell that a brightly colored children’s playhouse should attract the attention of any toddler but my sweet princess. Unacceptable.

My child realized that she didn’t have enough candy yet so we were off again with shouts of “Let’s get more!”. We found a fortune teller’s booth where all you have to do is sit on a chair for 30 seconds and then get some candy. We can do this! No, actually, we can’t. Too much to ask, my bad. My child marched up to the person in charge and said loudly, “I JUST WANT THE CANDY!”. The poor woman obviously had not been accosted like that yet today because she was very taken aback and it took her a minute to offer to give my daughter the candy without sitting in the booth. In an attempt to pretend like we are civilized people I thanked her but insisted we could sit in the booth like everyone else first. As we exited the booth she caught sight of the aforementioned ninja turtle and we had to make a run for the pumpkin decorating booth. There I attempted to decorate an impossibly cute Frankenstein pumpkin. My daughter had decided that was completely unacceptable and had a meltdown because she “didn’t like it”. My beautiful pumpkin is hiding in the trunk of our car until I can sneak it on the porch to be displayed like the handsome fella he is.

All in all it wasn’t totally horrible, but as a parent who struggles with anxiety and doesn’t enjoy being in crowded areas, and especially as a parent of an extremely intense child, I am glad it’s over with. I am now going to go find that Reese’s I promised myself. I wish you all the very best of luck and strength at your next Halloween events. Remember, it’s for the kids and even more important, you get candy.

 

When Your Child is THAT Child.

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We all know what I mean when I say every dance class, every school classroom, every playgroup and soccer team has “that” child. The child that doesn’t pay attention, disrupts the group, is maybe even mean. The behaviors vary but it all boils down to the one child that every parent talks about and labels “that” child. And we all want to say that our child never has been and never will be “that” child. So, what happens when they are?

My toddler’s dance class is wonderful. It is taught by an experienced coach who adores all of her students. I danced there as a teenager and I knew it was the best choice for us when considering where to introduce my daughter to dance. As part of her successful teaching the coach does not allow observation in class except for a few weeks out of the year. I appreciate this, knowing that my child is the type that will drop what she’s doing and strike up a conversation with you about dryer lint if she even thinks you are looking at her. This means, however, that we have to just drop her off and sit in the car worrying about if she’s actually dancing, if she’s having an epic melt down, and if she’s having fun. So when we got a note saying that parents could sit in on the Halloween party class I was excited. Unfortunately I am unable to attend dance due to my work schedule but this meant I could demand pictures, video, and detailed updates from my husband. I waited on pins and needles for updates, but when I got the first text my bubble was immediately burst.

Husband: She’s the one that’s misbehaving.

What! No, that’s impossible, not my sweet little angel puff who does literally nothing wrong. Okay, I’m kidding. After the initial sadness I really wasn’t surprised. My child is INTENSE, yo. She is bossy. She will talk your ear off. She is extremely emotional and dramatic. Part of me thought maybe she would see other kids acting like normal toddlers and would mimic them. Who am I kidding, though, that was never going to happen. So, she is “that” child. Now what? This is definitely not a blog post of the surefire way to get your child to behave in any situation (if that’s even possible, have you met toddlers?). The only thing I have successfully raised into adulthood is a chinchilla, so I have no freakin’ idea what I’m doing. All I can do is try. After many long zone-out sessions of brainstorming what to do about this situation I have a plan. Maybe I will update this blog with a glowing success post. Maybe I will update with a post about how it totally blew up in my face. It’s fun, right? What fun would parenting be if there were fool-proof instructions.

  1. Acknowledge that my child is indeed “that” child – I’ve done this. This is extremely important to me. Even before this situation arose I vowed to never be one of those parents who said “oh, my child would NEVER do that”. Why? Because she might! She just might do something mean or horrible in her future. I hope with all my heart that she doesn’t, I hope that I can teach her to be a good person, but that’s all I can do is try and hope. Refusing to acknowledge that your child is the problem child in a situation does not help at all and frankly everyone else hates it. They all saw your kid act that way, they know your child is “that” child, so denying it changes nothing and it also denies your child the chance to learn. Denying it also doesn’t make other parents judge you less (they actually judge you more, surprise!). Other moms can be brutal. Trust me, I know I’m being judged while my toddler is yelling over the teacher or poking other students (seriously, child?). Please don’t let fear of being judged prevent you from accepting and tackling the situation.
  2. Remember that she’s two – Toddlers are toddlers. Most of them don’t have the ability or the desire to participate in 45 minutes of any kind of class with a perfect attitude and undivided attention. Focus on the actual problem, which in my case is respect for the teacher and her peers. Expecting perfection from children never works out well, in my humble opinion.
  3. Use positive words – This is something that is very tricky to get the hang of, especially if you were not raised this way as my husband and I were not. It is very easy to say things like “you behaved horribly!” or “you are being so disrespectful”. While these things are totally true and I sure as hell am thinking them in my head, I have to try to change my approach because those phrases don’t help. I am in no way qualified to tell you why they don’t help, but in my experience all they do is make my daughter upset for a minute and give her no other options for her actions.  Instead of negative phrases I am going to try to give her positive options to choose from. Things like “in class I would like you to keep your hands to yourself.” or “in class please have a quiet voice”. I know I will have to repeat these phrases six million times, but I feel that she will respond better to options than to disappointment.
  4.  Remember that she’s her own person – It is so easy as parents to compare our children to every other child. We all do it. If you think you don’t do it, I don’t believe you. It’s easy and common to have fleeting thoughts about how nice it would be if your child sat still like that girl, or if your child was quiet sometimes like that boy. There is nothing wrong with these thoughts, they in no way mean you love your child any less. They mean you are a normal parent who struggles with your child’s personality sometimes, whatever that personality may be. However, it’s important to be realistic. If your child doesn’t talk much they probably aren’t going to become a social butterfly no matter what you tell them. My child is loud and hyperactive. I can’t change that. I have to solve the problem while keeping her personality in mind.
  5. Be patient – This is going to be a long road, especially with my child. I don’t know the reason my child acts out in dance. There are a million reasons why any child might misbehave in any situation. It could take ages to figure it out. But I will stick with it. It’ll probably include tears (mine), drinks, and lots of whining to my husband, but dang it I can do this. I hope.
  6. My Child is Amazing – No matter what, your child is amazing. There are always underlying issues that have nothing to do with your child. He or she is still the bomb and will continue to be even as you both journey through this scary world of social activities and expectations.

Here’s to all the parents who have “that” child. Stock up on wine or coffee or your drink of choice. You are awesome. Your child is awesome. We can do it.

Yard Sale Tips From an Enthusiast

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Yard sales. People have many different views of yard sales, garage sales, estate sales, or whatever you’d like to title them. To some they are a weird event where people put their junk out on their lawn and clog up the neighborhood with cars (I mean, technically it’s true). To others they are fun places to shop for a neat antique or other item for a collection. To me, mom of a toddler on a small income, they are (mostly) amazing places full of awesome stuff that allow me to both pretend like our lifestyle is much more lavish than it is and also save our family a ton of money. For me it’s actually a technique to save money.

But it’s used! Yeah, it is used. If you have a problem with wearing or using second hand items this isn’t the post for you. If you’re feeling iffy about wearing a stranger’s clothes or drinking out of someone else’s freakin’ adorable snowman mug, let me reassure you: I’m still alive. I know, that’s enough to convince you. But really, it’s very safe to use most secondhand items. Obviously I wouldn’t recommend buying a used mattress or shoes (this is debatable, but it’s an ew from me). Most things, however, can be very easily cleaned and sanitized by you at home with products that you trust. Clothing can be washed, dishes and many toys can be thrown right in the dishwasher, and most every thing else can be tackled with these little miracles I call Clorox Wipes. While I trust in the power of cleaners, there are some things that I would not recommend that you buy at yard sales, and these are:

  • Mattresses. Just no. I don’t know who did what or spilled what on it.
  • Carseats. I don’t trust that they haven’t been in an accident or in other traumatic events, no matter what the previous owner says.
  • Shoes. Like I said, it’s debatable. You will probably be fine. But I have a thing about other people’s feet so, I can’t.
  • Underwear. That’s all I need to say.
  • Bathing Suits. Again, debatable. I researched this once (don’t quote me, it was during a 3 am brain needs to question the universe session and I don’t remember where) and it seems that you can wash these in certain products and they are fine. However, sort of like the shoes it’s just an ick factor for me and I won’t do it.
  • Bottles, sippy cups, and other cups/dishes with tiny parts. These get mold very easily and after seeing what can happen to my toddler’s cups I won’t go near these.

So, now that I’ve told you what not to buy I’m sure you’re dying to know why you should even consider spending your Saturday morning driving around random neighborhoods. Going to yard sales has given our family so many awesome things. Things that we really needed, things that we had but could upgrade, and things we totally didn’t need but I probably would have bought at Target anyways for way more money. I can’t stress enough how yard sales have allowed us to have nice stuff. It has allowed me to give my daughter nice things. I’ve been able to get her entire season’s wardrobes for the price of a few full priced outfits and then been set for the year without needing to spend any more money on clothing. My child’s room looks like we spent a fortune on toys and books, but we didn’t, and I owe a good portion of it to taking time to go to yard sales.

Okay, so now that I’ve droned on about how awesome yard sales are I will give you some examples of actual stuff I have gotten at yard sales so that you can get some idea of what you can save by doing this. Also, it’s fun to brag a little, right?

  •  A compact, chair-top high chair – $3.00 (runs about $49). This thing is AMAZING. It is much older than newer brands, like this one, but I actually love it more because it’s more roomy. I plan to save this one for any future kids if we have them, so this three bucks will go a long way.
  • Frozen Bin Organizer – $7.00 (runs anywhere from ($30-$60). My daughter LOVES frozen and we also happened to need a bin organizer to corral her zillion socks, shoes, and the headbands she won’t wear. This one was in perfect condition and it’s darling in her room.
  • OshKosh Jeans – $0.25 each (runs about $15 each). I got four pairs of these from a seller and they were in perfect condition and have the stretchy tabs to shrink the waist for my weird shaped child.
  • Radio Flyer Trike – $3.00 (about $53). Another great steal that was in awesome condition (just had to hose off a bit of dirt).

These are only a couple of detailed examples of the awesome things I’ve found at yard sales. Here’s a list of other items that I usually have great luck finding. I will also include a price range so you can see what I am willing to pay.

  • Books – I will not buy books anywhere else. We do utilize the library a LOT but I also buy lots of books at yard sales. I find AMAZING kids books in great shape from great authors for only $0.25-$0.50 each. I also find lots of adult books for $0.50 – $1.00 each. I am a huge reader so it’s so awesome to be able to afford tons of books this way.
  • Baby/Kids Clothes – I have found tons of Carters, Old Navy, OshKosh, Gymboree and more at yardsales. I have even found some super fancy boutique brands, you know the kind you find on those baby instagram model accounts that cost a house payment? Yep, scored some of those. I pay anywhere from $0.25 – $3.00 a piece, a wide range dependent on type (dresses are more than a tee shirt) and quality.
  • Adult Clothes – I find a lot of super cute clothes for myself at yard sales for $1-$5. I am one who is very hesitant to buy anything for myself so it’s really awesome to be able to buy new (ok, new to me) clothes without the guilt.
  • Home Decor and Holiday Decor – You may be aware that home decor prices are freakin’ insane. Just go to The Quilted Bear, you will see. It’s cute, yes, but I have groceries to buy here. I find lots of cute wall art, knick knacks (is that what you call the cuteness that you set on random tables and shelves?), and other cute decor for varying, yet super low prices. There is also an abundance of adorable holiday decor out there for dirt cheap. I love to decorate the crap out of my house for the holidays and now I can (and do, sorry husband).
  • Office and Organization – I’m always finding super nice, unused notebooks and journals, binders, accordion folders, and other random but needed organization stuff for great prices. I bet it’s because other office supply addicts like myself go and buy this stuff they don’t need and then get rid of it later. Thank you. Again, prices vary.
  • Pet Stuff – As a dog mom of three I am super lucky to have found awesome things like very nice leashes and harnesses and an awesome huge crate for $5.
  • Board Games – our family loves games so it’s exciting to find them at yard sales so often. I spend anywhere from $1-$8 depending on what the game is. Always remember to check the game for all the pieces if it’s opened before buying. However, if it has everything but the instructions don’t let that deter you, they can almost always be found online!

Are you convinced that it’s awesome yet? I sure hope so. I know going to yard sales isn’t for everyone, but I hope that I’ve shined some light on that it really can be a great thing to do on an unfilled weekend that can really save your family some money. For us it’s right up there with couponing, I do it often, in the few warm months, and it benefits us majorly. I hope you and your family can use it to find some awesome stuff!

I’m Sorry, What?!

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Hello!

My name is Alexa and I’m a mom to an amazing, completely insane two year old, a graphic designer, and Etsy shop owner, a wife, a dog mom, a cheapskate, and a DIY all the things-er. I’m starting this blog to share my life with you all in hopes that some of you can relate. This is not a super mom blog. This is not an organic, green life blog (though I do love me some recycling). This is not a how to on being a perfect person blog. This is a blog about what it’s really like to have a toddler. What it’s really like to live in this world full of both awesome and awful people who do amazing things, help people, and can’t really drive that well. This blog is to share tips on couponing (no, not extreme couponing, I am lazy) and meal planning and DIY stuff that may or may not work out (just wait for my review on glitter tulle, just wait). This blog is to share experiences and things that made me chuckle, cry, or say “I’m sorry, what?!”. I hope you enjoy this blog, pick up a few life tips now and then, and have a laugh.