Sunday, February 20, 2011

Choosing Our Next Car Seat

The time has come to get Sarah's next car seat. Ugh.

When we got the booster seat she is in now as a gift from my registry I didn't think she'd grow as quickly as she has and to the weight she's at now where we are reaching capacity of the seat requirements both in height and weight. Sarah is an extremely healthy and active child who happens to be solid muscle with sculpted arms and legs. It's kind of amazing how incredibly active she is and her physical abilities.

When I picked out the seat that Sarah is in now I did some research and also found recommendations and feedback from other friends who were parents. I was under the impression that we would get more use out of it beyond just a couple of years. For example, I read of children approaching age 6 and 7 still using the seat we had. It appears those kids are taller and leaner versus Sarah being more evenly proportioned and firmer. I love the seat that Sarah is in now but it's obvious that she is ready to move into a more roomy and taller option.

Oh what a process this has been. I have done a great amount of research on various car seat options, best choices, consumer feedback, etc. I have also read numerous parent reviews.

The good news is that I have narrowed down my search to two choices: Recaro ProSport and Britax Frontier 85.

Unfortunately, both of these car seats are on the pricey side. I was hoping to try to save some money. But, safety and comfort sometimes, many times, come with a bigger price tag. And, knowing how much of a wiggler Sarah is, and my preference for her to be in a five-point harness versus standard seat belt, my options are selective especially based on what has worked well with Sarah in the past and the feedback in the reviews.

This really should be a no-brainer, right? Wrong.

Just because something is more experience doesn't necessarily mean it's safe. However, buying cheap isn't always the best way to go either. Yes, there are options in between both price point ranges yet many have issues, recalls, negative feedback, etc.

Further, I know definitely that, as much as I love to bargain hunt and secure finds at yards sales, consignment stores, Good Will, and other places, car seats are not a product that should be bought second hand no matter how much you think it looks like it's in good condition. When you don't know a car seat's history you are gambling with your child's life. However, if you have the option to be loaned or given a car seat by someone you know and; therefore, know the history of the car seat, and confirm that it has not been inside a vehicle where any minor or major incidents occurred, only then might you consider a second hand option.

Sarah has been riding around town in the popular Britax Roundabout car seat. We were so incredibly appreciative to get this as a gift several years ago. As you know, products change including new features and revisions, recalls happen and new products enter the market. Well, that's exactly what happened in our situation.

We have been very, very pleased with Sarah's previous two car seat options, the first being the baby seat with base followed by the booster seat. If only I know now what I didn't know or have time to research as much then is that a booster seats with the higher weight and height requirements as well as longer lasting use as a combination seat for growing children are best choices to consider when you don't or can invest in multiple options as your child grows.

I am leaning towards the Britax brand as it's been a product that is well-known, reliable, a brand we have been very comfortable and happy with. The true test will be bringing Sarah into the store to sit in them and test them out for comfort and ease of use. I also intend to take advantage of the coupon options with select retailers to save money as you don't always have to pay top dollar or the highest price for quality.

Wish me luck as this research continues to find the best, most appropriate and safe car seat option for Sarah.

If you have any thoughts or feedback regarding your own car seat recommendations and experiences please do indeed share. I would be extremely appreciative.

Thanks so much in advance for your thoughts and insights.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Jewish Pajama Library

When I first heard the name Harold Grinspoon I had no idea who he was. Do you know who he is? It turns out he is a pretty amazing and endearing man and the brains behind the valuable reading and Jewish education effort called The PJ Library.

One day, while on a plane, Harold heard a little kid crying and saw the boy's father pull out a book and read it to his son out loud. Soon after, the child stopped crying, became very involved in the story and then fell asleep after the fun and calming experience.

Fast forward, after hearing about a reading program called Imagination Library on National Public Radio that Dolly Parton, the country music singer, got off the ground providing as many has half a million books to children in several countries, Harold got an idea to do something similar.

It was much later on at a Passover seder that Harold, after watching family and friends gather and realizing how the holidays are one of many examples of how Jewish tradition, rituals, and education are discussed and discovered, that the idea of The PJ Library came about.

The PJ Library values the importance of reading and singing songs with children and helping to engage them in learning about their religion and culture. And, since much of this activity happens when kids are in their pajamas getting ready for bed and in the morning at wake up time, the "PJ" in The PJ Library actually stands for pajamas.

How cool is that?

According to The PJ Library, "we believe when parents and children read together, it changes the world...we also know that high-quality Jewish books can be expensive and difficult to find."

Therefore, for my Jewish readers, you may be interested to know that The PJ Library has an offering you may be interested in, one that is free, and where you can to expose your children to Jewish culture and learning through books and song.

Harold's vision has become a reality with the support of numerous philanthropists and organizations as well as many parents and families around the country where they provide, at no cost, Jewish heritage and learning through books and music to children across the United States and Canada.

To learn more about The PJ Library program, and how you can join in the awesome journey of Jewish education for children, visit them online at http://www.pjlibrary.org/. They can also be reached at 413-439-1981.

Enjoy this great reading and learning opportunity. You can enroll online, renew an existing subscription and also sign up to donate subscriptions to families who are not in a PJ Library community to give back to this great case.

Happy reading in your jammies. Have fun!!!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Sarah and Mommy Get a Goove On!

Just after dinner last night I decided to put on some music. On went one of my favorite musicians of all time, amongst others, Ricky Martin. What can I say. I've got the hips and I know what to do with them and what better way to use them then with Latin music.

While Sarah sat at the table just after dinner she started to bop her head around, Then, it was her arms. I asked her if she wanted to dance, and dance is exactly what she did, we did.

I digress for a moment.

When Daniel and I were dating, I mentioned to him that one of the things I like to do much of is dance. This included dancing around the house and at parties, clubs, etc. Hey, it's a great form of exercise and one that is an incredible release. So, for nine years Daniel has seen me shake my "bon bon" all over the place.

So, then, it should come as no surprise that I intend to continue dancing my butt off where ever and whenever I can, and where possible to engage Sarah if she is willing, in the process.

As parents we often do what we can to motivate and inspire our children to find things they are passionate about. It's also very important for our children to see what we are passionate about as well and to continue to enjoy what makes us happy.

I look forward to many more dance parties in our living room with Sarah joining in with tunes of Latin, hip hop, reggae, swing, disco and more. Daniel, while not a lover of dance, enjoys cutting a rug every so often. It's fun when we are all dancing together.

Go ahead, get your groove on!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

WARNING! Disgruntled Mommy (and Daddy)

This month Sarah's school conducted a contest for each of the kids and their families to create an arts and crafts project highlighting stories associated with the Mrs. Bush Storytime program that they had been exposed to. Each month, the classes each experienced being read a book, via DVD, by the former first lady herself, Barbara Bush.

Each family had the opportunity to focus on one or more books that were read to the children during the year and then to develop something creative to explain it to others.

Now, fully understanding that many children would need support from their parents to put together these masterpieces, one would hope that the children would play as much a part in the process.

So, when it came time for pick-up tonight at Sarah's school, the three winners had already been chosen. I was saddened not to see Sarah's project win or receive honorable mention, especially when I saw what she was competing again. Once I got past the disappointment I then looked closely at the winning choices and was even more annoyed to see that all of them didn't seem to include much, if at all any, child participation. They were too perfect.

I mean, come on. It's obvious when a perfectionist parent (Okay, I am not so far from this) wants their child's project to be great, but to do the entire thing for them and to say it involved the kid's participation is ridiculous.

My experience with Sarah making her diorama focusing on the particular book Corduroy was awesome. She got to color with crayons and markers, paint, apply stickers and glue on buttons. She also traced her hands nearly everywhere. Yes, I set up the box and taped all the things inside. But, you know that a child was involved in very many aspects of the project.

See for yourself.

I asked my husband, who was at school with me when we went to pick up Sarah, to see if I was overreacting or making more out of then I was. He confirmed his disappointment as well.

So now, being happy with Sarah's school for just the past few months since we moved, I am now stumped. I really need to question the staff and administrators as I worry that the winning choices give off a wrong message that perfection is what's best, and if it requires much (A LOT) of someone else's help to develop something then that's acceptable.

While I need to sleep on this before saying anything, I do intend to mention something to the administrators to ask what the criteria was as far as judging goes. I didn't need for Sarah to win or receive a mention. I would have liked to have seen a great competition with some awesome projects clearly created with children chosen as the winners, not only for us to enjoy and learn from but to also be enamored by and know that it was a fair process.

I remember way back when I was a child. My mom spent countless hours working with my sister and I on school projects. She loved doing them with us. Now, when I couldn't draw the ear for my science project, my mom helped me draw it. However, she made sure I wrote in all the language to go along with and the report too. So, while my mom helped she didn't do my project for me. If anything, it was a great bonding experience that until this day we still reminisce about.

So, parents, I urge you, and if you are perfectionist like I sometimes tend to be about certain matters, we need to let our children do, and maybe even fall short, or worse, fail. We need to be there to support them but we can't step in and do what needs to get done for them. How else do we expect our children to grow and learn and desire to want to learn more.

While I am still disappointed about the choices for best that were picked, Sarah has our number prize. Her project is proudly displayed in our home for her to see everyday and for friends and family that come to visit. Our home showcases her wonderful work. The good, the weird, the unusual, the beautiful, and all else.

As Sarah's mother I fully intend to continue to support her in her future endeavors to be creative, and then some, and to help her thrive. But, along the way, as much as she may want or need my help, I need to let her try, experience, explore and develop in order for her to find her way, determine what interests her (and not necessarily me) and help foster these interests moving forward. You should consider doing the same.

Any similiar experiences you would like to share?

Halloween Candy for the Troops

While we all recover from over indulging in too much candy during Halloween, still the candy is in our homes staring at us willing us to...