Thursday, August 27, 2015

Safety in the Car {a BFBN post}

The Babywise Friendly Blog network ladies are all talking about different facets of car seat safety today. I am sharing on what the law in Texas requires, sharing my unique experience in this area as being married to a Texas State Trooper, and also showing you how we travel.

As mothers, we may disagree on many parenting topics/philosohies - but I think one thing we all have in common is that we want to do our best to keep our children safe in all areas - and especially when traveling by car. I am especially partial to this because of the unique nature of my husbands job. He is a state trooper in Texas and has an advantage that many of us do not. He sees firsthand both the great benefit and devastating tragedy that can come from using a child safety seat properly or improperly in a vehicle. I feel blessed to be able to have his perspective, as it has guided me in being proactive toward keeping my girls safe while we travel.

When I was preparing to write this post, I asked Tyler for his input. He immediately told me of a tragic event that had a silver lining. In January 2014 Tyler was working a night shift and the dispatch called him out to a crash. It was dark, around 9 pm. When he arrived on the scene, he saw a pick-up truck in the middle of a pasture on its side, driver side down. It was clear the truck had rolled several times before landing in that position. The driver was thrown from the vehicle and unfortunately did not survive. Another passenger, an adult, riding in the front seat was also thrown from the car. Neither of the adults were wearing seat belts at the time of the accident. In the backseat, a 3 year old.

The 3 year old had been properly restrained in her carseat and walked away without a scratch. In the same crash that had a fatal ending to one, another walked away without any injuries. Praise the Lord for this child's safety.

I believe that alone shows the vast difference in safety that a child safety seat in the car can make. A life saving product, and one that has come so far in the past 30 years. The research and technology behind the manufacturing of car seats has really become  so sophisticated, as they have proven to be valuable in the event of a crash like the one I just described.

Car Seat laws may vary from state to state, but this what the State of Texas requires:

Transportation Code section 545.412 "(a)A person commits an offense if the person operates a passenger vehicle, transports a child who is younger than eight years of age, unless the child is taller than four feet, nice inches, and does not keep the child secured during the operation of the vehicle in a child passenger safety seat system according to the instructions of the manufacturer of the safety seat system."
What the rear view is in my minivan

There are no laws against when to turn the child from rear facing to forward facing, but the American Academy of Pediatrics strongly encourages a child be rear facing until at least two years of age. This has to do with the immature development of the spine and neck. In the event of the accident, when rear facing, movement is absorbed into the area of the car seat that surrounds and supports the neck and spine. This is incredibly important for young children who still have an underdeveloped spinal cord. If facing toward the back - when force occurs their bodies will still be moving, but will be moving directly into the car seat that will absorb the movement and force. If facing forward, the child will still be moving forward upon impact, and their tiny bones can't as easily withstand the force, leading to possible life threatening injuries. The AAP recommends age two as a minimum - but also recognize that it is really not until age 3 that children's spinal cord and supporting muscles are fully capable of handling this type of trauma.  I should also note that it is NOT AT ALL dangerous for feet to touch the back of the actual seat of the car while rear facing. Any possible injury from the feet and legs touching the back of the seat are FAR less in detriment than injuries that could occur to the spine, head, and neck if facing forward prematurely - and its highly unlikely that legs being "squished" up against the back of the seat would actually cause any injury whatsoever. It is  really tempting for parents to turn their child around earlier than recommended because in early toddlerhood is common they they begin to get "bored" or "fussy" while riding in the car, and turning them around to have a view seems like it would be more enjoyable for everyone riding in the car. I would suggest that if this becomes a problem, to try having music for them to listen too, or making sure they have a lovey or a pacifier for soothing. They will usually grow out of this stage shortly after it begins. I also recently listened to a lady who was employed by both the Texas Department of Transportation and Scott and White Hospital do a demonstration about car seat safety. She reminded new mom's that toys that are marketed to attach to a car seat are never crash or safety tested, and so its ideal to not use them. No one really knows what damage they could (or would not, for that matter) cause in the event of an accident.

Anslee is 6.5 years old, weighs 44 lbs and is 46 inches tall. She is petite for her age, but is still in a high back booster with a 5 point harness. She fits the height/age/weight requirements and so she stays. She is beginning to ask about regular booster seats (no back and use the car seat belt), so far she is just questioning and we will keep her in a seat like this for quite a while longer.

When it comes to car seat shopping, there are a million options. You do not have to spend thousands of dollars on car seats to be truly safe, and ANYTHING is better than nothing. In our family, we do not buy the cheapest or the most expensive option. We read research and read reviews and trust that not only will the safety seat be a saving grace, but that the Lord will provide protection over our children.

Kensington at 4.5 years old, riding in a high back booster with a 5 point harness. I suspect she will be comfy here for several more years! She is an a Recaro Brand Pro-Ride booster.
Laynee, age 3, in a convertible - forward facing safety seat.  She rides in a Britax Advocate CS car seat that has been passed down from her sister, Kensington. (PS she somehow got an extra comfort cushion and stuffed it behind her head in this picture before I realized and took a picture)

Wynn at 14 (almost 15) months old. She is in an infant carrier here. Chicco Key Fit 30. It is built for up to 30 lbs. (She is 19.9 lbs as of last week) I don't need a "carrier" any longer with her, but she still fits safely in it and is happy. She is still rear facing and loves talking to her sisters during car rides. We will move her to a larger/non-carrier convertible car seat soon, still rear facing. Her feet do touch the back of the seat of the car she is secured in. :)

There are community organizations almost everywhere that will:

1. Provide a family with a free child safety seat that will meet their needs.
2. Train a family member on how to properly install a child safety seat into a vehicle. (Police stations, Fire Stations, Hospitals, and Car seat safety professionals)
3. Will train a family on how to place a child into a child safety seat (Family service centers, police and fire stations) They will show you exactly how much give should be between your child and the safety belt. They will also show you exactly where the chest clip should on the child.

There are several resources available to parents who are actively seeking help in this area.  I have felt so incredibly blessed to be married to a man who will do this for families in our communities that need his help. Please never be hesitant to reach out for help when you need it. So many are willing to partner with you in keeping your children safe while traveling!

Happy and safe travel wishes to you all!

Sunday, August 23, 2015


As another official summer comes to close, I have caught myself wondering if we made the most of our lazy{and busy}days. I don't remember really reflecting on our summer months in years past, so I am thinking this sudden inner interest of mine has to do with the fact that we follow an official school schedule now as my girls are growing. Maybe it is because this will be my last year at home with just one child going to school. Next year, they will be split two at school and two at home. Each year comes with new change, and with new change, new things to prioritize.

We did not go an any epic vacation. We did not take on Disney or a go on a cruise. Heck. We didn't even make it to Sea World or a Zoo. We did not road trip to anywhere. We didn't hop on a plane with bags packed. We didn't count down the days for any great adventure. Oh, but I hope they remember our summer together as if we did. Better yet: I hope that it is never required that we leave to find our fun or adventure.

We learned how to really swim this summer. Two of them ditched the life jackets and puddle jumpers and bravely dove in to the water. Starting out this summer we were scared to go waist deep. Now, we going down slides and jumping off diving boards. I saw confidence grow from not much to so much. I was proud  relieved. Pool side giggles may be what I remember the most from this summer.

We had fun doing new things. We went to art camp. They dabbled into a creative side that I probably could not foster here at home. They learned about mixing colors and painting lines and making something from nothing. They made things beautiful from nothing. It was fun and I am certain they used a different part of their brain that had probably never been tapped into until then. Picasso for the day. I will also keep those sweet canvas paintings of theirs. Maybe I will even get brave and do this one day myself. Maybe with them.

Cheerleading camp. Oh to be loud and excited and part of something bigger than yourself. To learn skills and to be silly in the same setting. To learn from other {way older} children, isn't that more fun sometimes than learning from lame old adults? How much fun did these girls have running and yelling and bouncing? Is it not exactly what they were made to do? The dancing, too. Oh they danced - and to their favorite song: Shake it Off by T-Swift. They were sassy and funny and made new friends. Every girl should wear a cheerleading uniform sometime in their life, and they did!

Reading and Summer Scholars. Keeping their brains sharp and not letting the Texas heat melt away the sharpness to which they can understand. They explored new stories and Anslee read to us. We bought new books and read about them and talked about the characters. We sent our biggest girl to scholar camp to learn about energy and how things work together to just move. They played games and dabbled into robotics programs on computers. She made a race car out of plastic water bottles and straws. They played dress up everyday and pretended to be anyone they wanted to be, and they always laughed while they did this. Some day I will miss having to velcro together those cheaply made, easily tattered, entirely too expensive dress up dresses. We had friends over and played with other children. We practiced sharing, and treating each other with kindness. We took turns and sometimes had to say we were sorry.

We missed daddy on the days when he was away. We watched the tiny sister take her very first steps. We didn't get sick! We all got haircuts. We got our faces painted twice. We got new red, white and blue outfits to wear on the Fourth of July. We went bowling. We went through 3 tubes of sunscreen and have great tan lines. We watched Teen Beach Movie and Teen Beach 2 over and over. We visited grandparents. We made tons of trips to the grocery store and got to eat free fruit (Thanks United!).  We visited a hurt friend in the hospital and made new friends who moved into town.

We were busy and happy. We didn't do much, but we did everything. So thankful for beauty that can be seen in the simplicity of our humble little lives.

Tomorrow starts a new year. 1st grade will be a great adventure. So will pre-school, and for our tiny, her last year just at home with mama. May God bless us and remind of us how is working each day.

So long Summer 2015.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

BFBN Week: A Yes Day {guest post}

It is BFBN Week, and today Brooke from is talking about organizing a fun day for your kids filled with the answer "yes". Read what she has to say and consider doing this in your home!

Are you up for a challenge mama? Go an entire day without saying no to your kids. I know you may be laughing just imagining the madness that will ensue, but honestly, yes day will rock your kid's world.

Many times we say no to protect our kids, but a lot of the time we say no because it is more convenient. Completely ignoring all your plans and to do's for the day to play with our kids is no easy task. It also is not realistic to say yes to everything our kids ask...the world will not treat them this way so why would we set them up to believe this?

But what if for just one day, we only said yes. Cookies for breakfast and a food fight during dinner. Not only will you connect with your kids on a whole new level, you will make memories that will undoubtedly last a lifetime. Here is how you set up your yes day!

Schedule Your Yes Day

Keep yes day special. Schedule them maybe once or twice a year to keep them rare and exciting. If you have more than one kid, you can either schedule different yes days for them or have them work together on the same yes day. Watch them negotiate and work as a team to decide requests.

Not only will yes day surprise your kids, I think it will surprise you too. The madness of course is limited by a set of ground rules which should be established before yes day. The rules should be decided together with your kids and should ensure that yes day doesn't get too crazy!

Yes Day Rules

Set a spending limit
Set a driving distance limit
Nothing that is dangerous
Nothing that causes harm or that is mean
Set a bedtime

Help your kids brainstorm ideas so they are totally prepared for yes day. Make it memorable and fun! Let them think about what they really want to do... prioritizing activities to ensure they do their favorite first. Yes days don't come often so help them make it count.

An entire day with little responsibility for the entire family. A total free for all adventure that will not be forgotten! Your first yes day may have its hiccups, but no worries, there is always next time! Enjoy your yes day and enjoy your kids!

All of the ladies participating in BFBN week are guest posting on each other's blogs, so go check out all of them!