Friday, April 30, 2010

Child Safety Seats

I remember when I was pregnant with my first child and going to register for my baby shower -- I read so many different things about child safety seats and child restraint systems for the car! We were fortunate and we essentially received THREE different car seats / child safety seats that carried us through all of the years that our child needed a safety seat. We had the infant carrier with the base that stays in the car, the convertible child safety seat, and then the booster seat. However, just having the right types of safety seats is not enough -- you also need to keep track of how long your child should be in each seat, and when it's time to move on to the next level! Over the past 9 years, between our first and second daughters, I have found myself looking up child safety seat info on numerous occasions -- not just to see when I could move my girls into the next car seats, but also when we have traveled out of state. Different states have different requirements -- if you are traveling to another state, it is a good idea to look on that state's DMV website to make sure you are following their requirements. The information below is the current child safety restraint information for New York State -- please make sure to check your own state's Department of Motor Vehicle information for your area's safety restraint requirements.

Safety Restraints

Are child safety seats and child restraint systems required in New York State?

New York State law requires all children under the age of four to ride in safety seats. Before November 24, 2009, the law requires that all children ride in child restraint systems until their 7th birthday. As of November 24, 2009, this requirement applies to all children until their 8th birthday. Safety seats and child restraint systems must be certified according to Federal Motor Vehicles Safety Standard 213. Follow the instructions of the manufacturer of the seat or system, and make sure you install and use the seat or system correctly. The web site of the Governor's Traffic Safety Committee has a list of permanent child safety seat fitting stations in NYS.

How do I select the correct child safety seat or child restraint system?

To select the correct protection for your child, carefully read the recommendations of child safety seat or child restraint system manufacturers.  The recommendations tell you what age weight and height a child can be to use the seat or system.  The recommendations are normally printed on the outside of the package. 

An appropriate child safety restraint system:

- Is required for all children until their 8th birthday as of November 24, 2009,. (Prior to November 24, 2009, the requirement applies to children until their 7th birthday), and

- Must meet the size and weight requirements for the child based on the Federal requirements and the recommendations of the manufacturer, and

- Can be a child safety seat, a harness, a vest or a booster seat attached with the vehicle seat belt system, but not the vehicle seat belt alone, and

- Should not be used in the front seat of the vehicle.

These examples can help you to select the correct child safety seat: 

- Infant seats are normally for infants that weigh approximately 22 pounds or less, are 25 inches or less in length. Always place the seat in the back seat of the vehicle and make sure the child safety seat faces rear of the vehicle. Never put an infant in the front seat of a vehicle that has a passenger-side air bag.

- Convertible child safety seats are normally for infants or toddlers that weigh approximately 40 pounds or less. For infants, face these seats toward the rear of the vehicle. Follow manufacturer instructions to adjust the seat as the child grows. For the best possible protection, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) recommends that a child continue to face the rear for as long as possible up to the weight and height limits specified by the seat manufacturer. For toddlers, you can change a convertible seat to face the front of the vehicle.

- Booster seats are for children who have outgrown convertible or toddler seats. Booster seats are for children who are four to eight years old, weigh 40 to 80 pounds, and are less than four feet, nine inches in height.  You can use a booster seat until an adult seat belt correctly fits the child without use of the booster seat. Always use both the shoulder and lap belts with a booster seat. Never use only the lap belt with a booster seat. · Built-in child seats are available with some vehicle models.

- Built-in child seats fold away from the standard car seats. Do not use these seats for infants.

Always read the instructions and the information provided in the vehicle owner manual about the use of child safety seats or child restraint systems. Make sure you install and use the seat or system correctly at all times.  Never use an infant seat in the front seat of a vehicle that has a passenger-side air bag. Make sure that other passengers use their seat belts. Read more tips on the correct use of safety seats and child restraint systems.

I thought this was a great picture for this post -- I actually have 3 different-aged children, in 3 different safety seat / restraint situations -- in one picture! What are the odds! ;) This is my eldest daughter sitting in the car with a seat belt, our friend in the middle who is sitting in a booster seat with a seat belt and my youngest daughter in a convertible car seat.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Hiding Places

This weekend, my 3-year-old discovered a cozy new place to play with her Little People...Underneath her train table!

Hope you enjoyed a cozy weekend at home with your little ones, too! ;)

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Happy Birthday, Grandpa!

Grandpa and Gramby are on vacation, so we had a little birthday party at our house last week. Hope you have a great day, Grandpa -- we love you!

Starting a Garden - Step One, Move the Bricks!

Yesterday was a beautiful day here and we had the great fortune of having all four us home to enjoy it! We spent the afternoon outside in our yard -- the girls enjoying their new swing set, and my husband and I taking the first steps to have our first garden! One of the elements that I wanted to have for the kids in our "Best Backyard on the Block" quest is a little garden in which they can help to grow vegetables. I think this will be beneficial for all of us -- the girls will learn about what goes into getting the food that is put on the table, they will have a great time getting to tend their own little garden, and maybe it will even encourage them to try some other veggies that they may not be interested in right now. Not to mention the benefit of going out to the garden to pick some veggies, as opposed to driving to the store!

And as a special bonus, creating the garden is helping with another ongoing project this spring -- to clean up the yard! Near the site of the new garden, we had a sandbox that the girls have not used in years, and we cleaned that out and will be putting it on the curb this week. We also are FINALLY using the pallet of garden bricks that Grandpa and Gramby bought me (at my suggestion) for my birthday, hmmm... 11 years ago? I have gardening/landscaping commitment issues -- I'm finally starting to learn that you can do something in your yard and if you change your mind -- you can re-do it! Anyway, that birthday present came when we were living in our first house (before this current one). I had a vision, at that time, of a landscape project that I wanted to do at that house. I also had a vision, that we would be at that house a lot longer than we were! Shortly after we had our first daughter, we started re-evaluating that house -- we loved it, but it was only a two bedroom, with a small yard, near a busy street, and not in a great school district. When we started thinking about moving to another home, I decided that I wanted to save the bricks and take them with us. Much to the delight of my husband! He's such a great, PATIENT guy -- it was the LAST day that we had at the house and our last chance to take anything from the house or yard -- it was a super long day, and it was November, I believe... My sweetie went back to the house for the bricks, at the end of a long day of moving. It was dark out, it was cold, and he loaded up his Subaru wagon with as many of the bricks as he could pry out of the ground! (Love that man!) Of course, then they came to this house and were piled up into a corner of the yard for the past 8 years until I was able to come up with a use for them! :) (That is a picture of where the bricks have been sitting all these years, and of the girls checking out all of the bugs and worms in the ground underneath them!)

So yesterday, he and I piled them up in the girls' wagon and wheeled that back and forth over to the garden site. We ended up having enough bricks to put on the other side of the little picket fence -- we built a similar wall around our irises that are sprouting up! That fence separates our pool from what we call the girls' yard -- our side yard that is completely fenced off from the street, neighbor's yard, and pool. This is where we have their swing set, where the veggie garden will be, and the area that we are working on this spring in our best backyard project! This week, my garden guru, Christine (who I think was hoping to sneak over this summer and smuggle the bricks out of the yard...;) is coming over to check out what we've done and to give me some tips on planting the garden -- so stay tuned!

Friday, April 23, 2010

A Lovely "Old-Fashioned" Afternoon

My mother was in town from Florida this past week, and yesterday was the last day of her visit with us. Early in the day we went out to lunch and ran a few errands. In the afternoon, her good friend stopped by to see her and we had a lovely visit, just sitting around the living room talking -- no music or tv on, just nice conversation! My little one was napping and my eldest daughter sat with us and listened quietly and politely, adding to the conversation from time to time. Before Mom's friend left, we were talking about pianos (I have my mother's in the living room) -- that she was looking to buy a small one to play at her house. Mom said that she missed playing the piano and had played it that morning while I was upstairs getting ready. She said that it is out of tune and she had thought about tuning it while she was here -- well, next thing you know, the pictures are off the top, the top is open and Mom's got her tuning tools out! My little one was up by this time, and we all had fun watching Mom tune the piano. The girls went out into the side yard to play on the swing set, Mom was playing the piano, and I was sitting in a chair with my sewing box out, repairing two of my eldest daughter's stuffed animals. Again, no tv on, no stereo -- just the sound of Mom playing the piano, and the sound of the girls' laughter coming through the open windows. It was such a pleasant, enjoyable, relaxing afternoon and it struck me that this is just the way that past generations might have spent an afternoon -- visiting with friends and family, sewing, playing the piano.

And what a nice coincidence that we went "back to basics" and had this lovely, old-fashioned, "low-tech" afternoon on Earth Day! The whole afternoon without the sound of a tv or a Gameboy -- what a nice change of pace!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Happy Earth Day!

My sister-in-law sent out an e-mail to all of her friends and family in honor of Earth Day. She and her little 4-year-old daughter have organized a clean-up effort for the main street and waterfront area in the town in which they live. The local paper is even coming out to do a story on them! I thought I would share a little of Jen's e-mail with you, which I think is a great reminder to think about the little ways that we can make a difference -- and a lot of these are things that we can easily teach our children!

'Please remember "We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children." Earth Day IS everyday, folks! Turn off the lights when you leave a room, don't let your water run when you are brushing your teeth, eat & shop locally, and remember, "if it is less than a mile, walk/bike in style!" There are so many little, simple things we can do to help our Earth. The time to start is NOW!'

Thanks for the reminder, Jen!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

New Swing Set!

There are some pretty happy campers in our household -- our girls, because we are the proud new owners of a fabulous wooden swing set, and my husband and I because the girls are enjoying it tremendously, AND we got a great deal on it! We had purchased a metal swing set about 5 (?) years ago for our eldest daughter. It dutifully served its purpose and was enjoyed by her, her friends, and finally her younger sister. But that swing set has seen better days, and between rust and our not feeling it was sturdy enough for both girls to play on, we decided to look into a wooden swing set. Have you priced these out lately? Whew!! Expensive. Lowe's sells them for about $1500, and Toys 'R Us has some for $800 and up. Friends of ours have been lucky enough to find people who have older kids who are no longer interested in their swing sets, and they have gotten them for free -- just the labor of moving the play set. We looked into that and also looked on Craig's List a site that I rarely remember to check before heading out to the store to buy something new. I did a search for "swing set" and every day for a week there were different options -- lots of people were looking to sell them, or even give them away! We inquired about 3 different ones, went to see one of them, and ultimately that was the best deal and we purchased it! It was the most expensive of the 3 -- $400, but the tower and fort on this alone, sells for between $600 - $700 at Lowes! With the help of our good friend, Michael, and my father, the guys went out (in the rain -- bless their hearts!) and took it apart, drove it home and put it back up in our backyard. It is possibly the best $400 that we have ever spent -- our girls have been out enjoying themselves in the fresh air, swinging on the swings, sliding down the slide, playing up in their new fort, just about every day that we've had it. And we are rediscovering our backyard and starting some other projects to make ours the "Best Backyard on the Block!" (Stay tuned -- I have some ideas to share throughout the Spring!)

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Getting Ready for Easter

We have had a busy and fun week and we are looking forward to a visit from the Easter Bunny tomorrow! I hard-boiled eggs and they are cooling so that the girls and I can color Easter eggs this afternoon! After playing outside for a while and enjoying the beautiful spring weather, my eldest is now painting Easter pictures to give out to family members tomorrow. Our Easter decorations have been up since about the day after St. Patrick's Day, and the girls' baskets are anxiously waiting to be filled! Easter dresses are hanging, new stockings are ready, and tonight for "Movie Night" we'll be having an Easter marathon -- "Springtime with Roo", "The First Easter Rabbit" (with Burl Ives), and "It's the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown." Tomorrow the girls will search for their baskets, hunt for some eggs, and then it's off to church and brunch with family.

Happy Easter from our family to yours!

April Fool's Day

I just wanted to report that my girl, who was a prank-playing "April Fool" last year, only pulled one on us this year! It was the soap prank from last year's bag of tricks, but she got me good with it this year -- especially considering that
I knew about it the night before!! My girl went upstairs at dinner time saying, "Wait! I have to do something!" My husband thought she had to go to the bathroom, and we did in fact hear the bathroom door close. She came down a few minutes later and during the course of conversation at dinner she said, "Don't go into the shower tonight!" Well, of course that's going to raise suspicion! I said, "Did you hide the soap again?" And she said, "How did you know?!" Fast forward to the next morning, when I am up earlier than usual to get to a doctor's appointment before heading to work -- I am undressed, and I open the shower curtain and start the water. I notice that the only soap in the shower is the little baby doll toy soap that is white plastic and has the word "SOAP" printed on it. I look around the bathroom cupboards -- no soap -- not the soap that she had taken out of the shower, and not the new, unopened soap. I throw on a robe and head downstairs to see my daughter, who is up early and on the computer. "Ok, very funny, where's all of the soap?" Apparently, she put it in her sister's hat drawer in her dresser. So, back upstairs, CAREFULLY climbing over the baby-gate, tip-toeing across the room and quietly opening the dresser drawer, so as not to wake the sleeping child! And in her hat drawer I found the used soap, the new soap, all of my shower gels, and even the great Suave 3-in-1 soap that the girls use! My girl was not leaving any stone unturned!

I can't imagine I'll fall for that again next year... I hope! ;)