Thursday, December 31, 2009

Car Seat Safety

Yes you read that right, and yes I admit that it seems like an odd post to finish this year out, but it is something that has been on my mind lately.  I run into a lot of parents that don't seem to understand how car seats work, then I hear statistics about how many children die or are injured in car accidents because their seat was not installed or used properly.  

This awesome site I found states this:
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, motor vehicle crashes are the #1 killer of kids in age groups 1-14.  Safe Kids USA says motor vehicle crashes are the #1 cause of unintentional injury-related death for all children 14 and under.  While some crashes are unsurvivable, over 57% of deaths for children 0-15 were because the child was unrestrained.  Many more were improperly restrained.  Nationally, the misuse rate for child safety seats is over 80% and as high as 95% in some areas.   The good news is that correct use of car seats and boosters does save lives.  Infant seats have been shown to reduce fatal injury by 71%, and toddler seats by 54%.

So I wanted to point out a few basic "rules" and also point you to some other places to get good information. 

One point to remember before we begin, is that just like seat belt laws car seat laws can vary from state to state, but I am going to try to present the most safe (and law abiding) guidelines.  If you have any doubts that your car seat is installed properly you can usually contact your sheriffs department and they will do a safety check.  Our hospital actually had someone that could check ours and we did that before our first child was born.  We learned lots of invaluable information from her.

With all that said here are few mistakes I see parents make:

1.  Turn their children from rear facing to forward facing too soon.  The basic rule is that a child must be AT LEAST one year of age AND 20 pounds in weight.  Not one or the other but both a year and 20 lbs.  But something most parents don't realize is that the safest way for your child (actually even adults) to ride in a vehicle is rear facing. Check out this site for lots of good information on extended rear-facing something I plan to do when are blessed with another baby.

2.  Using backless boosters before the child is ready.  I am talking about the little booster seats that basically just position the car seat belt.  They are very appealing since they can be moved from one vehicle to the next easily.  When I looked at one at the store it was not allowed for anyone under 4.  There are also height and weight regulations.  The child should meet the age and size requirements.  Keeping your child in a 5 point harness as long as they can is the best option.  Read the information that came with your car seat.  We purchased a convertible car seat that has a 5 point harness that can be used up to 65 pounds!  

3.  Using car seats that are too old.  Car Seats expire - You can usually find the expiration date on the back of the seat.  This is especially important when looking at borrowing one from a friend.  As the plastic ages it becomes more prone to cracks so it would be less protective in a crash.  Usually the seats have a 6 year usage before they expire.  The same can be said of car seats that have been in a crash.  Depending on the accident the seat may have sustained damages that will make it less able to keep your child safe.

4.  Leaving the retainer clip too low on the child in a 5 high point harness.  Keep the retainer clip at armpit level on the child. Only one finger should fit between the clip and your child's chest.  The straps should not drape over the child's shoulders.  I often see straps so loose the child could probably be pulled out.  I realize that tighter straps may not be as comfortable, but to me safety is more important.  Also if you keep the straps tighter they will eventually get used to it.

5.  Leaving the seat too loosely strapped to the vehicle.  Make sure the seat moves less than one inch when pulled at the base. When installing the seat, place your knee in the seat to add weight.  You really should not be able to wiggle the seat around when it is installed properly. 

6.  Allowing your child to wear winter coats in the car seat.  Most coats should not be worn in car seats as they reduce the effectiveness and can cause the child to overheat.  Great information can be found here.

7.  Also it is often recommended that the carrier bar on infant car seat/carriers be pushed down into the horizontal position while driving.  This is stated in most user manuals.  Just reread yours to be sure you are using your seat the way it was designed.  Some newer seats are fine either way.  In older seats the bar can crack when left up and cause injury. 

8.  I guess the biggest thing is just not reading the manual that came with your seat.  Each car seat has specific instructions.  So please read the users manual and don't assume it is the same as another seat you have.  If you have lost the manual most of them can be found online now.

Well I hope this leaves you ready to enter the new year with your children safely strapped in. :)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Stockings are Hung...Finally

Notice I said "hung" and not "done".  There is still some finishing work (like the lining in the contrast material), but they are hung by the fire with care.  I think even Landon was beginning to worry we would have no stockings this year.  Remember way back here when I mentioned sewing stockings.  It actually began before that post, when I opened up my husband's grandmother's old singer sewing machine.  Then after giving myself a quick lesson from the manual, and drawing from my 4-H years, I began sewing stockings.  I actually have 6 almost finished.  I want to be prepared for either a girl or boy addition to the family.  The girls in the family have the fun red print and the boys have the festive green.  Even though I will not be posting any close up pictures, I a little proud to have stockings I crafted hanging by the fire.

It has been over a week since my last post as our house was hit hard by the flu bug.  The children are very stir crazy, but I want to be sure not to share any germs so close to Christmas (or anytime).  So we decided to get artsy.  They made some masterpieces to add to the gifts under the tree for our loved ones.  Here are some pictures of them at work.  It is amazing what toddler paints and glitter glue can do for the soul.

Have a Very Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Friends that Become Family

During our recent trip to El Paso, TX to visit my husband's family, we were able to visit with close family friends of theirs.  This is a family that Kyle knew when he was a kid.  They met through church and became very close during the time Kyle's family lived there.  His family moved away from El Paso when Kyle was in Jr. High, but they have now moved back.  After all these years the families are still close.  They will travel great distance to attend weddings, meet new grandchildren, or bring comfort during illness.  Even amongst the business of our trip the families made time for each other.  These are friends that are now family.  It doesn't matter where God takes them, they will remain close.  As I watched the two families interact I was thinking I hope we keep friends like that...making the effort to be there for those we call friends. 

Sunday night our church small group held our annual Christmas Party.  We gathered around a beautifully set table to enjoy the meal we had brought together.  The conversation was plenty as well as the laughter.  Later we played a Christmas gift exchange that involves stealing and bribing, and again more laughter.  In fact I was laughing so hard I cried.  As I went to sleep that night, I was thinking back over the party.  Part of the prayer before supper came to mind, "really we are a family".  This statement is so true.  We rejoice when a new life enters into the group and we gather to celebrate birthdays.  We try to support and comfort those in need.  Just like a good family should.  I could not help but imagine us years later coming together at Christmas...this time laughing at grandchildren stories.  I know there are many years between now and then, and they hold lots of changes.  Yet I feel these friends have become family.

Christmas Cookies

Last year I found a picture of really cute snowman cookies.  I knew Landon would love to make (and eat) them.  So we made them and he has talked about them all year.  I decided they would become part of our Christmas traditions.  So I bring to you the snowman cookies for 2009!

Here are my helpers hard at work:

Here is their finished product...

After they were finished working I made some that were company safe...

I used white icing, chocolate chip eyes, Mike and Ike nose and earmuffs, Twizzler Pull n Peel cherry licorice mouth and band on the earmuffs.

For the cookie tray I like to make some with just icing and sprinkles for cookie purist that don't like the candy on their cookies.

The kids and I had a good time making these again this year so I think they are definitely staying in our traditions list. 

Friday, December 11, 2009

Homemaker Moments: Christmas Traditions

I was  a little worried when I saw the upcoming topic for Homemaker Moments was cameras.  Even though I would love to be a talented photographer with a cool camera...most of my pics are taken with my phone with the occasional shot with my Sony Cybershot.  Needless to say I was relieved when I woke this morning to see that Angie over at Homemaker Chronicles had switched things up and the topic was Christmas Traditions.  Now that is something I can share about.  My mom was very good and creating traditions.  She is still so thoughtful when it comes to that sort of thing.  My husband brought some traditions to our family as well, and we have also created a few of our own.

  • We purchase a real Christmas Tree from a local boyscout troup.  We love that it supports fathers and sons working together, and we love the way a real tree looks and smells.  We also like the fact that it is an evironmentally smart choice.
  • We read a poem each day from an advent book I have had since I was a child, and we have an advent wreath.
  • We eat Mexican food on Christmas Eve.  My husband spent a lot of his childhood in El Paso, TX which is where this tradition got started.
  • On Christmas Eve the kids open three gifts each in reference to the gold, frankincense, and myrrh the wise men brought Jesus.
  • On Christmas Morning the children find their stockings filled and one gift from Santa.
  • We do at least one gift giving project for a child or family in need such as the Operation Christmas Child.  This year, along with our small group from church, we are helping two children in a local school have a Merry Christmas.
  • We also take a drive and look at Christmas lights.
  • Making Christmas Cookies is one of my son's favorite parts.  Last year we made snowman faces and he has been talking about making them again all year.  Last night he made our first batch of the season.  I am sure there will be more.
  • We read the true account of Christmas from the Bible before opening any gifts.
 Now you can hop over to Homemaker Chronicles and read about even more great Christmas Traditions.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Sky High Blessings

As we were on our last flight of our trip home from El Paso (still having a 3 hour car ride ahead of us) I became overwhelmed with gratitude.  I was holding my daughter as she slept peacefully.  My son and husband seated behind us were enjoying each others' company, and I was fighting back tears.  I had spent at least a month wrestling with discontentment.  Do you ever do that?  It seems to be something that visits me every so often.  It's not that I hadn't been thankful for things, or that I had spent the whole month sad.  It's just I hadn't rested in God's provision, His timing, and all that goes with it.  But as I sat thousands of miles in the air I felt His peace surround me.  Now don't get me wrong I still have a few things I will continue to bring before the throne, but I am at peace whatever the outcome.  Wow...that is still a little hard to say or type.  Still I know that there is more freedom in handing over control to the One who knows me the best...better then I even know myself.  So as I enter into the Christmas Season I have a renewed since of peace.  What a great way to celebrate the birthday of my Savior.

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  Isaiah 9:6

Friday, December 4, 2009

Homemaker Moments: Saving Money at Christmas

We are back in Indiana...just in time for Homemaker Moments.  We spent the past week in El Paso, TX visiting my husbands family.  We actually saw our first snow fall of the season in the desert! 

I have several posts floating around in my head that I will be sharing over the coming week, but I wanted to share a few ways we are saving money this Christmas.
  • Shopping Amazon - Most all items are eligible for free shipping and are usually cheaper then a retail store.  Plus you can shop in your pj's after the kids are in bed.
  • Sewing Stockings and maybe a Tree Skirt- Homemaker Chronicles inspired me last year so I am hoping to follow through with my own.  I ordered my fabric from at 50% off.
  • Adding homemade touches to store bought gifts - I am adding ribbon to an inexpensive apron I purchased for my Mom to give it a special touch.
I would also like to point you to a giveaway that could help you save on a gift.  Bake at 350 is hosting an awesome giveaway for a free apron from The Hip Hostess

Well, I need to get to work if we are going to have stockings on the mantle soon...they are still in pieces on my sewing table right now.