Risking My Child’s Life and Why I’m Angry

So earlier this week, this blog post was shared by a friend of mine on Facebook and I was mad, livid! You see, Big Sis is a 4 year old who weighs about 32 pounds. When it was time for Little E to move to a different car seat it was decided that she would go into Big Sis’ carseat since it is a convertible and can be used facing backwards and we would buy Big Sis a new booster car seat. I researched all of the “big name” brands and decided on this Graco Highback TurboBooster.

81FLHjXkeYL._SL1500_The recommended use, taken from the Graco website?

  • Highback Mode: For children 3-10 years old, from 30-100 lbs and 38″-57″ tall
  • Backless Mode: For children 4-10 years old, from 40-100 lbs and 40″-57″ tall

Perfect right? Big Sis is 4 years old and 32 lbs. I don’t remember her height but it was within the range as well. She was so excited to start using the big girl seatbelt and frankly so was I, it’s so much quicker and she can get herself out of the car all on her own.

After I read that blogpost I was pissed. Has my daughter been in an unsafe carseat for the past four months? Could my ignorance have led us into the same situation as the family in the blogpost? The thought makes me shudder.

You guys, I am a researcher, sometimes to a fault. I research EVERY thing. This was no different, except that I just researched the product trusting that the carseat companies would only sell the safest possible products. I can’t believe that I fell for this lie. Did I mention that I’m angry?

So since I am a researcher and made a horrible mistake, I thought I’d share the safest ways to have your kiddos in the car. These are not the law but are the American Academy of Pediatrics Guidelines to keep your kids as safe as possible.

First of all let’s talk about some general safety rules:

  1. All kids under 13 need to ride in the back seat.
  2. When in a harness, the chest clip should be at the armpit level and the straps should be tight but not too tight to cause pain or trouble breathing. To test if it is tight enough you should try to pinch the strap at the shoulder level. If you can pinch it at all, it’s too loose.
  3. Don’t be anxious to move your kiddo to the next seat! Keep them in the most secure place for as long as they are at the appropriate height and weight.
  4. It is okay if your child’s feet touch the car seat or cannot stretch out in the rear-facing position
  5. If you’re using the LATCH system, make sure you know the maximum weight for your vehicle’s LATCH system. Make sure that your your child’s weight PLUS the weight of the carseat does not exceed the weight limit for your LATCH system.
  6. Never use an expired carseat, a carseat that has been in an accident, even if it’s a small one or a used carseat unless you are absolutely sure of it’s history.
  7. Do not trust the car seat literature! Just because your seat manual says it’s okay for a four year old, 30 pound child to be in the seat, doesn’t mean it is the safest, or really even safe at all!

Okay and with that let’s look at age specific requirements. I think some of you are going to be in for a shock, I know I was.

Step 1: Rear Facing (0 mos to up to 4 years)

Important Carseat Information that Could Save Your Kid's Life | Motherhood in the Trenches

As of 2011 your child should be rear facing until they are at least 2 years old. This is not a law (the law says 12 months and up) however it is suggested by the American Academy of Pediatrics as the safest practice.

I know, I know, TWO? You guys, this is such a big deal! According to a 2007 study in the journal, “Injury Prevention” children under age 2 are 75 percent less likely to die or be severely injured in a crash if they are riding rear-facing. I’m not usually one to throw around studies unless I can read the information in several different reputable journals, articles, etc. BUT in this case one article is enough for me. It is not going to harm my baby to be rear facing and the alternative is WAY too risky! Babies’, toddlers’ and even preschoolers’ heads are disproportionate to their bodies and internal decapitation is much more likely at these ages. Keep your kiddo rear facing until they reach the maximum rear facing weight for their carseat. This means that when your baby outgrows his/her infant seat (usually between 22-35 lbs) you should use a convertible carseat that can continue to face backwards for as long as is possible. Here’s a link from the AAP Journal about keeping your kiddos rear facing.

Step 2: Front Facing with a 5 Point Harness 

Important Carseat Information that Could Save Your Kid's Life | Motherhood in the Trenches

So once it’s time to be front-facing, your kiddo should remain in a 5 point harness until he/she outgrows the weight and height limit for the carseat. I’m gonna say it again, don’t trust the carseat literature! Keep them in a 5 point harness as long as it is safe! The story I posted above is what woke me up and made me realize that vehicle seat belts can be deadly if used improperly BUT as I did more research I realized Big Sis was not ready for her new car seat anyway. She is still so squirmy and we would often find her in weird positions in the car and tell her that she needed to sit up straight with her legs down.

Now that she’s back in a 5 point harness, she’s less than excited about being pinned down again but I realize all the more now that she was not ready for a “big girl” carseat.

Step 3: Front Facing with a high back booster seat, using the car’s seat belt

Important Carseat Information that Could Save Your Kid's Life | Motherhood in the Trenches

This should be used ONLY when your child has outgrown the 5 point harness carseat AND meets the height AND weight requirements for using the high back booster.

Step 4: Front Facing using only a booster seat (no high back)

IF, and only IF, your child outgrows the height requirement on your highbacked booster before they are tall enough for the vehicle seat belt you can use a booster seat without the high back.

Step 5: Vehicle Seat Belt

Between the ages of 7 and 12 (yes TWELVE) your child will be ready for the vehicle’s seat belt. Typically when they are 4 feet 9 inches. Here’s a link with some good points on when to know if your kiddo is ready for the vehicles seat belt. 

Take Me Deeper into Motherhood

If you listen to any Christian music, chances are you’ve heard the song “Oceans” by Hillsong. Some say it’s overplayed but for me, it’s one of those songs that bring me right back into a godly perspective. It takes me away from my worldly thoughts and brings me into the presence of the Lord. It is a humbling and yet powerful prayer.

That song is challenging! “You call me out upon the waters, the great unknown where feet may fail.” When I hear that song I start thinking, “Yes! What great waters will you call me upon Lord?” I pray, “Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders, let me walk upon the waters, wherever you will call me!” And my mind goes to Africa, or to forgotten orphans in Russia, or to the hurting in my city. I pray, “Lord, what great things can I do? Where will you send me?” And when I have prayed that He has replied, “I have sent you, you are where I have led you. The great things that I am asking you to do are right here in your home.”

“Wait, Lord, I asked what GREAT things do you have for me. I want to do GREAT things!”

Take Me Deeper into Motherhood | Motherhood in the Trenches

Do you ever get that sense of wanting to do GREAT things? What if God is calling you in faith out onto the water to rekindle your marriage, to trust when trust has been lost, to love when you don’t feel like it, or to be vulnerable though you’ve been deeply hurt? What if the waters God is calling you out on are to love and pray for a family member who has walked away from the Lord? Will your faith stand? What if the turbulent seas you are to navigate are the constant cries and whines of babies and toddlers? Will your soul find rest in His embrace? What if that great place God is leading you to is simply, and yet not so simply, to raise your children in the ways of the Lord, to be your husband’s cheerleader as he goes out into the world to make a difference in the lives of others, to be the unrecognized support of your family?

All of that doesn’t sound as romantic or bold does it? It might even sound a bit boring or mundane. The song also says, “Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander and my faith will be made stronger in the presence of my Savior.” To pray those words in these circumstances means that we are asking God to take us deeper in our families, in our every day tasks. Am I willing to ask God to take me deeper in my patience with my children? Am I willing to pray that God will take me deeper in the grace that I afford others? Am I willing to pray that God will take me deeper in love with those who are not easy to love? Deeper in selflessness?

And what is my attitude toward these things? Do I need an attitude adjustment? Can I still sing these words with boldness & determination even though I know that He is calling me right here, in my home, to mop floors and clean kitchens and cook meals and to love on my family? Do I have the same attitude toward my children as I would towards those orphans? Do I respect my husband and support him in all he’s doing as if I were on a mission in Africa? Do I realize that right where I am at, the things I am doing right here, are a high calling of God?

I’m not there, but I’m learning. And each time I hear this song, I shift my thoughts from these far off places and hurting people and into my home. To my spunky, blue-eyed four-year old who desires to learn and soaks up knowledge like a sponge.

Take Me Deeper into Motherhood | Motherhood in the Trenches
And to my wild-haired, blue eyed baby who lights up when I simply walk into a room.

And to my hubby who is stretched thinner than ever and could use some love and some stability and calm when he comes home and who should be afforded even more grace than usual as he juggles so many tasks.

Take Me Deeper into Motherhood | Motherhood in the Trenches

Maybe some day God will call me upon “greater” waters but for now these are the waters He has called me onto and so I sing with as much conviction and as much boldness, “Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander…”

Big Sis’ Favorite Books #1

Book Review with Big Sis | Motherhood in the Trenches

Every two weeks we go to the library and leave with a giant stack of library books. Each time we walk out the door with our giant stack of books I am amazed that we get to just walk out with a giant stack of books, for FREE. We are so blessed! I’ve mentioned before that I LOVE children’s literature. There’s something so magical and so exciting about immersing yourself into the stories.

In every batch we’ve had some really awesome books and some not so awesome ones. I’ve had a few moms ask us what some of our favorite books are to read so I thought I’d periodically let you in on some of our favorites. They are always changing so here are our favorites right now…

First up I had Big Sis pick her two  favorite books right now and the books she picked were “Shhh!” by Valeri Gorbachev and “Piggie Pie” by Margie Palatini. These aren’t the books I would have picked as her favorites right now but you can read about my picks below. ;)

Here’s Big Sis’ review of “Shhh!” by Valeri Gorbachev

Mom’s Review: It is a super cute book and full of imagination. It’s also great if you have a kiddo with a younger sibling. I have found myself referring back to the book while Little E is sleeping, reminding Big Sis to tiptoe like the big brother in the story does or to tell her animals to play quietly.

Big Sis’ review of “Piggie Pie”

Mom’s Review: While this is a super fun book, there are some elements that I’m not a big fan of. I love that it’s a play on the Old Macdonald song. Gritch the Witch visits Old Macdonald’s farm and incorporates some elements of the familiar song into the story. There are quite a few opportunities to ask anticipatory questions, which is super fun and also a key comprehension strategy (that’s the teacher part of me talking, heh). There are two aspects I’m not a fan of. First of all, witches aren’t my favorite thing. All of the casting of evil spells and her evil self just aren’t things that I like to incorporate into our home. I still read this book to Big Sis several times but it is preventing me from buying it. Also Gritch the Witch doesn’t speak kindly and says phrases like, “dumb duck” or “fork over the pork, you walking milk machine…” While these might be totally fine for some kids, I have a child who has an amazing memory and always seems to repeat the most offensive part of every movie and book, like the time she called me a “two-faced son of jackal” which she heard on Aladdin. Oye! So while neither of these things might be an issue for your family, they aren’t something that I want to read to her on a daily basis, which is a shame because I really, really like it! I would still recommend checking it out from the library and if those things don’t bother you then it’s a book that is well-written with so much fun inside.

Some other books we’re really enjoying are:

I Love You, Stinky Face by Lisa McCourt. This is a story we have in a compilation book so it often gets forgotten but we recently rediscovered it and have been reading it quite a bit. The title comes from the line in the book, “But Mama, but Mama, what if I were a super smelly skunk, and I smelled so bad that my name was Stinky Face?” The book is full of what ifs as a little boy asks his mama what she would do if he were a big, smelly ape or an alligator with sharp pointy teeth. The mama always responds with some creative way to show her little one that she loves him. It’s imaginative and playful. We love it and I love to call Big Sis “Stinky Face” because she always smiles and says, “I’m not a stinky face!”

Curious George is always a favorite in our house. Big Sis loves to repeat the common line in every story, “He was a good little monkey but always very curious.” The favorites in our house are:

Curious George Feeds the Animals

Curious George Makes Pancakes

and Curious George and the Birthday Surprise

We would love to hear what books you’re loving right now so we can check them out too. Share in the comments or send us your link!

The Walk of Patience

Patience is a weakness of mine. In one sense I can be super patient, like how I patiently waited SEVEN AND A HALF YEARS to marry the man of my dreams. Or how I go to Target and find something I love and spy it out over and over, week after week, waiting for it to go on sale. I can be super patient. But on the flip side, especially when it comes to Big Sis, I can lose my patience very easily and start speaking impatiently and with a negative tone.

Bedtime is the worst. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about when I say that by the end of the day I’m exhausted. I’ve been awake for fourteen hours, working non-stop giving my all to everyone. I’m spent and, truth be told, I just want to turn off. So bedtime comes, and let me tell you, Big Sis has THE longest bedtime routine ever. We read devotion, pray, turn off her light, turn on her lullabye music, turn on her tranquil turtle and hide the moon on the ceiling, give her a small sip of water, I do a song and dance saying “nosey nosey nosey (eskimo kisses), eye eye eye (butterfly kisses), a big fat hug and a kiss goodnight” then Dirk and her give a ton of high fives and “psh” down each other’s faces and a kiss and a hug. Lately, I’ve had to pray with her again after all of that because she’s worried she’s going to have bad dreams. Then as I leave she says, “What are you and Daddy going to do?” and I have to answer that question. I walk down the stairs, sit down, take a deep breath and….”Mommy!!!”

Night after night I lose my patience. It’s never once been something that needed to be said or done, it’s just Big Sis not wanting to go to bed. I walk back up those stairs huffing and puffing like a teenager girl who just got busted. I walk in her room and say in not the sweetest tone, “Big Sis, what do you want? It is bed time and you couldn’t possibly need anything more.” She says what she needs to say and then I say firmly, “Okay, go to bed. You may not call me anymore.” Then I walk down the stairs feeling like a total failure of a mom. Ugh…

So now, I am purposing that the walk up the stairs is my walk of patience. As I walk up I pray, “Lord, give me patience and help me to speak gently.” I don’t want to, I’m still so tired and so impatient, I mean really, why does she need to call me back up every. single. night? I just want to “clock out” for a bit. But since I’ve started praying on my way up, I am more aware of my attitude and have been able to walk back in and show her gentleness. Man, some days I feel like I’m failing at this parenting thing. Somedays I feel like I’m wrecking my kids, like they’re going to grow up and all they’re going to remember are the times I impatiently listened to them as they called me back up the stairs or the times that I didn’t want to read to them or didn’t want to play with them. I know that there are fun, great and amazing things that we do that they will remember, I just don’t like that they will remember negative things about their childhood either. I don’t like that I am a sinner and that my some of my sins will be remembered by children. On the other hand, I am  thankful for God’s grace and thankful for the opportunity to show Big Sis that I am also a sinner and that I need God’s grace and God’s help just as much as she does. Every day is a learning process, some days more than others. I’m starting to learn but I have a long road ahead of me.

Painted Dish Towels: The Perfect Kid Made Mother’s Day Gift

Mother’s Day is coming up so fast! I always like to give a handmade gift to my mom, especially now that she has grandkids. These painted dish towels are so easy, so cute and so useful!
Handmade Dish Towels for Mom | Motherhood in the Trenches
Here’s what you’ll need:

  • White dish towels, washed, dried and ironed (I bought ours at Target for like $5, and they are giant. I didn’t realize it until after I opened them. They work fine but I would have preferred something smaller.)
  • Fabric Paint (we used Martha Stewart Paints because I love their colors)
  • Paint supplies (brushes, sponges, printmaking things like apples, stamps, whatever you’d like.)
  • Paper to cover your area
  • Masking tape to tape the towel down

Here’s what you’ll do:

Make sure your dish towels are washed, dried and ironed.

Start by covering your work area. You may want to set up a few different “stations” because the paint will bleed through the towel and onto the work surface. If you reuse the work area you’ll get paint on the back of your new towel.

Use masking tape to tape the towel taut.

Whenever I do a project I start by letting Big Sis do whatever she wants. I find that if I give her free reign first, she’s more likely to cooperate with directions after. So the first towel (pictured above) I let her paint however she wanted. That one ended up being my favorite.
Handmade Dish Towels for Mom | Motherhood in the Trenches
Then we did an apple print. Cut an apple in half, dip into paint and press onto the towel.
Handmade Dish Towels for Mom | Motherhood in the Trenches

Handmade Dish Towels for Mom | Motherhood in the Trenches
Lastly, we did a handprint towel, because what Grandma doesn’t love kid handprints?!
Handmade Dish Towels for Mom | Motherhood in the Trenches
Let them dry for the time allotted on the bottle of your paint, usually 24 hours. Then wash them again to make them softer. The paint will still be pretty stiff but washing them softens them up a bit.

This is great to pair with some handpainted wooden kitchen utensils which I’m hoping to share on Monday! If you try the project I’d love for you to share. Comment below with a link to your blog or tag me on Instagram or post on our Facebook page. Happy crafting!