Monday, June 25, 2012

Disney (from mama's point of view)

So, our family vacation was to Disney World in Florida this year.

We had a was Mark and the little girls first time ever going, and I think he was pleasantly surprised at the number of things that he and the girls could ride (he's a chicken and doesn't ride coasters--though he did ride Soarin', Star Tours and Mission Space--green)

Day 1--half-day at Epcot

This was our day of arrival, we drove in from an overnight in Tallahassee, FL about 12:30pm, checked in to the hotel, got our Keys to the World (KTTW) which acted as meal plan credit card, room key and park ticket, our refillable mugs (which I filled with cokes), put our ice chest in the room and headed out to Epcot.

Here are some photos of our room, it was a "Royal Room" at the Port Orleans - Riverside resort, it's decorated to show that princess Tiana and her princess friends stay in this resort and have good times (photos on the walls and fireworks in the head boards) and they leave gifts too!


Now, let me say this: our kids did remarkably well for having been in car seats for a 12 hour drive at this point.  They were ready to be out of the car, but had slept enough in the car that they weren't overly cranky.  This is good, because almost immediately upon arriving we met our first characters (I was afraid Paige would be scared to death)

After we met these guys it was out to the park we went.  We headed on into Spaceship Earth as our first attraction.  Paige, we discovered, didn't like anything that was going slow AND made her turn sideways or backwards to travel along the track...she wasn't horrible, but she would say "I want to go home" a lot.

Then we headed on over to Mission Space to ride, we got a rider swap pass for this.  Rider swap works like this, if you have small children who are too small for the ride, then one group goes in, and either another group or one person stays outside the ride and waits while the others ride.  When the first group comes out, then the person waiting gets to take their rider swap pass and up to 3 people with them into the fast-pass line to by-pass the stand-by line wait and go ride the attraction while the first person/group waits.

After that we headed to the jumping fountains to play around for a bit (it was like 2:30 when we got to the park, so still a little early for dinner).

On our way to supper we stopped and played around.

We saw Marie and Aurora (pics of Aurora are on my photopass CD and not here yet) in France.

And Jasmine and Aladin in Morocco.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Car Seat Comparison-MyRide65

This is a follow-up to the Graco posts from earlier last week.  I will have to add more pictures as I take them.

This is the original seat (above)--I love the cover, soft and squishy, loved that the belts didn't get all twisty, and that the buckle was the style the pushed down, not in. (pictures to be added)
Graco replaced my seat, out of warranty, with a brand new one (manufactured this year) because the harness in this seat is not replaceable, however it was the harness of the seat (harness at the buckle tongue slide) that was the issue since it was fraying and this is through no fault of my own, but a design issue of theirs, which it appears they have corrected.

This is the new seat...fabrics are the same "pattern" but they are nothing alike, this is NOT soft at all, it has the smaller buckle that you have to push in and the belt guides on the buckle tongue pieces are looser and do allow the straps to twist if you don't pull them perfectly straight; however, this looser aspect may be helpful for us since it was probably how tight the fit on the tongue pieces was that caused the fraying in the first place.  It also has different padding (I'll have to find it all to take pictures), which for us isn't a big deal since Paige and Baily are both too big to use the padding anyway.

Measurements that I get on the two seats (these are not definitive and were purely taken to satisfy my curiosity)

Original MyRide65
seat width at booty (internal): 10in
seat width at shoulder (internal): 10.5in
seating height (internal): 24in
harness slot heights withOUT padding: 9in, 11.5in, 12.5in, 14.5in, 16.5in
external seat width: 21in

New MyRide65 lx
 seat width at booty (internal) 10.25in
seat width at shoulder (internal): 10.25
seating height (internal): 24.5in
harness slot heights withOUT padding:8.5in, 11in, 12.5in, 14.75in, 17in
external seat width: 21in

However, I was told that I could keep my old cover (Paige has some sensory issues that I don't want to fight with her over a carseat about--but she's done fine with the new cover so far) and that it would fit just they are saying they haven't changed anything...we'll see when I try to use the old cover on the new seat.

chest-clip comparisons (top old, bottom new): they appear and feel the same


crotch buckle comparisons: (top old, bottom new) 
They are VERY different. Personally I much prefer the bottom buckle as it pushes down and is much easier to both buckle and unbuckle (however there were some complaints about the ease with which children could unbuckle both the chest clip and the crotch buckle, so I assume that is what prompted the change), the buckle tongue connectors on the buckle are shaped differently and have a more open space around the belt, so I assume that this was either due to complaints about how tight it was on the belt and/or because there were fraying issues other than my seat--though I have never seen this as a complaint on any seat forum I've looked at.

fabric comparisons: (top old, bottom new--click to enlarge if you need/want)
The old fabric was a plush/velour in the seat area with an almost fuzzy/soft polka dot fabric for accent.  However, the new seat is a rough polka dot through the majority of the seat, and the solid parts are a really weird and fairly rough fabric as well...I'm really hoping that the old cover will actually work on the new seat.


Monday, May 14, 2012

Graco Seat Update

Graco called me back, they are sending me a new seat, should be here by Thursday, Friday at the latest.  They are also sending me a shipping label through FedEx and it should be here by Monday for me to send my old seat back.  She said I could keep the fabric parts if I wanted to have an extra cover.
So, I'll add pictures of the new seat, etc. when it arrives and keep you posted on the situation. 

Overall it wasn't a bad experience (did take staying calm, insistent and a manager to get a deal I found acceptable), they still say I shouldn't really use the seat because of the fraying, and that they can't guarantee my child's safety, but they have no ideas for me on what I should use instead without me having to go buy a new seat myself right I guess for now we'll use it unless I think Baily will still fit in the bucket, then we might put her in it for a few days and Paige in Baily's convertible.

Graco replacement seat

Just an FYI: Graco MyRide 65 car seat straps canNOT be replaced, you must replace the whole seat.  Which really kind of sucks.

I've been on the phone and e-mailing with them for over 30 minutes now, and after sending them pictures of my issue, we might be down to a reasonable solution--we'll see after the next phone call.
The straps are fraying at the spot where the crotch buckle tongues are--this is not anything weird I've done, it's some reaction between their harness and their plastic buckle piece and since you can't remove the straps it's not like I could stick them in the washing machine or anything either...they want me to PAY to ship it to them, then, while I'm waiting for a new seat or reimbursement, I have to PAY to get another seat for either short-term use (if they are going to send a new seat) or long-term use (they'll send me the $149.95 MSRP on it)...ugh, I don't have the money to go buy a new seat just whenever--we saved/budgeted for this seat, did our research and were happy with the seat until the belts started to fray...

The manager I spoke with told me to send photos of the issue and see what she could do to get a seat sent to me without my first having to return mine, and that she'd have a shipping label sent so I don't have to pay shipping--BUT, I really shouldn't be using the seat I have since the belts are frayed.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Car Seats!

Why this is such a controversial thing is beyond me. Why is it such a bad thing to do your best to keep your kids safe? I don't understand each their own I suppose.

the article above is about the "new" recommendations for rearfacing and boostering (though, really, the new recommendations were released over a year ago, but apparently some sources are just now picking up on it for some reason).

If you are unsure whether you are using your seat properly, or you have questions you should contact a Child Passenger Safety Technician.  If a person does NOT have this certification they are NOT qualified to inspect your seat...being a police officer, EMT, fireman, or the like does NOT make them qualified, only going to a special class and having been certified makes them qualified. Please make certain if you have someone inspect your seat they are on this list:

Legally, all children should ride rearfacing until a minimum of 20lbs AND 1 year old--not OR--AND...that means they must be BOTH 20lbs AND 1 year old to forward face...all states have proper use clauses and all forward facing seats for use in the USA state that children must be both 20lbs AND 1 year old to use them...therefore even if you THINK your state doesn't specify this, they really do. Not only is it required to this point, but the new recommendation of age 2 or whenever they outgrow their convertible (not infant) seat is based on data that says it's 500% safer for toddlers/preschoolers to ride rearfacing than forward facing. Rearfacing puts your child's head at the furthest point from impact both in a frontal and rear impact situation, it keeps the head contained within the shell of the seat better which provides better side impact protection, it cradles the head and spine during crashes which helps prevent whiplash and internal decapitation (yes it can and does happen) Babies and toddlers heads are a greater percentage of their overall body and their spines are not fully formed until they are over the age 2, these two things in combination can allow the head to separate from the neck internally in an accident causing death or life-long disability.

My B rearfacing in her Evenflo Symphony 65 (1 year, 22lbs, 30ish inches)

My P rearfacing in her Graco MyRide 65 (22months, 35in, 24lbs)

Is rearfacing when rear ended still safer? Yes it is!

For one thing, only 4% of accidents are rear or rear-offset, two, the head is still further from any point of impact and three, most rear end accidents happen at much lower speeds.
(the above link is one of my favorites for doubters and those who think getting rear ended is a huge risk to rearfacing children)

and here's some interesting reading on positioning your car seat in the vehicle

 A, in a booster (10.5, 4'10, 95lbs), and P in her MyRide forward facing (2.5, 29lbs, 38in)

As for boostering, the bare minimum is 4 years old and 40lbs (this is the law--they must be BOTH in Louisiana) but most aren't ready until 6-7 years old...many people also want to move into this milestone too quickly...why? Well, again, I'm not sure. Most I've met say it's "easier" to not have to buckle their harness. I, for one, don't find this to be true at all. With a harnessed seat you have to buckle it, or at least check that your child buckled it correctly--correctly being that the harness is tight enough (you shouldn't be able to pinch any slack in the straps at the shoulders or the hips), that it's not twisted anywhere, that all the buckles are tightly latched and don't come undone by pulling on them (you should check your installation each time too, and I will admit that I'm guilty of not always doing that)...with a booster you may have to help your child buckle it because they can't reach the buckle or can't press tightly enough to properly latch it, then you have to make sure it's pulled tight at the thigh/hip, you need to make sure it's sitting properly on the shoulder (not under the arm, not behind the back, not riding up on the neck--all these things are dangerous and could be deadly), and if you have a squirmy child who is reluctant to sit upright properly then you may need to go a step further and pull the belt all the way out and force it to "lock" so that they can't lean too far and get out of is all that easier than the harness?

Here is some info on why to keep your child harnessed longer:
In order for a booster to be used safely, the child must sit properly at all times. The shoulder belt must remain on the shoulder to keep the child's upper body contained, and the lap belt needs to stay low on the child's lap in order to prevent abdominal and spinal injuries. If a child cannot maintain proper position in a booster, the adult may find herself constantly reminding the child to sit still. This is frustrating for both the child and the parent. Putting a wiggly or impulsive child in a booster means you're taking safety out of the parents' hands and placing it in the hands of a child who's too immature to handle such responsibility.

A 5 point harness spreads crash forces over larger areas and provides more points of restraint than a 3 point lap/shoulder belt (a 2 point lap only belt should never be used for anything other than harnessed restraint installation). Because of this a harness is more likely to keep a child contained in and protected by the seat in a side impact or rollover.

A 5 point harness is also better for children who sleep in the car as it provides greater support and maintains the child in proper position.

In 3-across situations a harnessed seat is generally easier to buckle than a booster

Here are some links about why you should continue to harness children instead of moving them to a booster:

And moving out of a booster? This too gets me. Seatbelts are NOT made for children, they are made to safely secure a 5'10, 180lb male, as are airbags (and Louisiana state law says they must be BOTH 6 years of age AND 60lbs to ride with no booster seat). Children's hips don't form the illiac crest until they are over 6 years of age, this crest is the part of the hip that should hold your seatbelt low and under the belly, over the legs so that your belt can protect you, without this then the belt rides up on the belly....some children are also so thin that even at 6 they don't have enough bulk in the legs to make the belt ride properly. And, since most children aren't tall enough until they are at least 8, many not until closer to 12 years of age, for the seatbelt to ride across the chest/shoulder, many things have to be considered.

Here's a 5-step test to see if your child is ready to ride without a booster seat:

And YES, car seats do expire.  Why? Well, plastic degrades over time. If you think about plastic toys, when they are exposed to sunlight, heat, cold, moisture, etc, they get brittle and crack easily. Plastic stresses and warps. Straps and fabrics fray and rip. Instruction manuals get lost or destroyed. Important instructional labels fade, tear or fall off completelyAlso, the expiration date is the latest time the company will stand by their product to issue recalls, test safety, etc. Your manufacturer may no longer stock replacement manuals and parts. Maybe the company has gone out of business entirely  There are also changing standards and tests they might not pass now as safety standards get more rigorous. Car seat technology is always evolving, as are vehicles' ability to secure seats properly and consistently. Before 2002, Lower Anchor & Tethers for Children (LATCH) did not exist. Now it's a common system by which car seats are installed.

Most seats expire approximately 6 years after manufacture.  There is a date on most seats stamped into the seat, and this information should also be available in your manual or by contacting the manufacturer of your seat.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Natchez Day Trip

So, I grew up in south Louisiana, Slidell to be exact.  I now live in north Louisiana and my BFF lives in Baton Rouge...we don't see each other nearly as often as we would like.  So, Good Friday we both took a day trip.  She drove up from BR to Natchez and we drove down to Natchez (it's about the middle of the trip--works out nicely for all involved).  

Now, let me say that this is not necessarily easy for either of us.  Gas prices are going up, and we both have kids...5 of them between the two of us.  BFF has 6.5 year old boy/girl twins.  I have 3 girls, ages 10.5, 2.5, and 1...this where things got interesting on this trip, at least for us.

P, age 2.5, has been wearing nothing but panties during the day, since Christmas.  This was fine, until last week.  Not really sure what prompted this, but every time she got in her car seat or put into her bed at nap time she peed....this is gross...I have to clean it, take the seat apart or put a new mattress pad and sheet on the bed, and did I mention that cleaning up pee is gross and stinky?!

Well, we've been building up for months that someone (thinking it would be P) was getting a new car seat (until now P has been rearfacing in her Graco MyRide 65 convertible seat--the AAP and all research indicates that rearfacing as long as possible is safest for toddlers).  Well, things did NOT go as planned this day.  The plan was to get P a new Evenflo Symphony 65 all-in-one seat (I don't like the current harness to booster seats for small children, they push their heads forward when they fall asleep and are not all that comfortable which is why I was opting for the convertible/all-in-one seat), it has a high rearfacing weight limit, fairly tall shell rearfacing, has a tall shell/headrest for forward facing with decent recline and higher weight limit and can be used for a little while as a the 15 minutes it takes to get from our home to Burlington Coat Factory, guess who peed in their seat!  You got it! Paige did! 
I was NOT a happy mama.
So, using a hand towel and some paper towels I sopped up the nasty mess as best I could, put a plastic bag down in the seat (I had just washed the cover this same morning, so I was really not happy), changed her clothes and told P that B would be getting a new seat, not her.  She had to keep riding in her seat since she kept peeing in it.  P was not happy, she sobbed and fussed and whined, but when it was all said and done she was ok because her seat got turned to face forward (although, if she doesn't shut up, I'm going to figure out how to make her rearfacing in the rear row of our van work because she is a bad backseat driver!). So B got the Symphony and is rearfacing in it until at least 2.
After buying the seat we had to unbox it, read at least the rearfacing part of the manual, install it in the car and then begin our journey to Natchez.

Our journey to Natchez was uneventful thankfully, we stopped and got burgers at Wendy's on the way and met my BFF and her family at Duncan Park to play.  We played softball/baseball, collected bugs, leaves, moss, played with the swings and a small dinosaur they could ride on too.  My BFF brought me several bags of clothes ranging in sizes from 12month to girls size 6 for my little girls (thank you very much, J).  After the park we went to Cock of the Walk for a dinner of catfish, onion rings, fried pickles, french fries, skillet corn bread, coleslaw and pickled onions! (too bad I didn't take a picture of all the food)

 After dinner we walked along the river for a few minutes to chat and relax before driving to our homes.  We caught a beautiful sunset in the process.

Now, my BFF, her path out to home does NOT include going by DQ, but ours did, so to DQ we went.  I LOVE DQ, however the nearest one to us is almost 2 hours away (sucks really).  I got a kids cup of ice cream for P, a small double fudge blizzsard for A, hubby got a strawberry malt and I got a caramel malt (they don't have butterscotch anymore--bummer).  Well, we didn't get B anything, she doesn't like ice cream, she doesn't like cold, so I didn't think she'd eat anything...we stopped at the Walmart in Vidalia on the way home (after DQ) to get some Benadryl since I had forgotten mine and B's eyes were watering, while I was waiting for A and P to go to the bathroom I sat in the car and nursed B...she kept sitting up and saying "that, that" and pointing at hubby's I gave her a sip...she drank like a third of his malt before she went back to nursing!  It was actually quite funny because she made a face every time she took a drink because it was cold, but she always started yelling "that, that" every time he took the cup away!  So I guess since she doesn't like milk all that much, maybe I could get her to drink strawberry flavored milk and wean her off the syrup eventually.