Shelter in the Storm

I feel incredibly petty having used the word “terrified” to describe myself a couple of days ago in light of the recent tragedy in Boston. To be honest, I haven’t reached the point of feeling frightened. Mostly, I’m horrified. My reactions today have been a lot like those I had in the first hours of September 11, 2001. Disbelief. Anger. Horror. Sadness. Helplessness. Of course, there’s an enormous difference in scale between today’s horrific attack and the unthinkable and reality-changing events in New York and at the Pentagon a dozen years ago. Another difference, on a personal front, is that I now look at the world through the eyes of a mother.

My daughters are more aware than a lot of their peers of current events. Being the daughters of a soldier who has served three tours in combat, they are keenly aware that war happens and evil exists. The poem that M wrote at school two weeks ago shows that she’s not exactly sheltered.

Soldiers are heroes,
On hard times go to war.
Loving all people.
Dying sometimes
In wars,
Ending their lives.
Right to fight for the good.
Sacrificing themselves.

“Bad guys” are more real to military kids than to a lot of their friends. While we keep the worst of what Daddy has been through from J and M, they know that he goes to war and that it’s dangerous. Still, there are some dangers they’re not old enough to cope with at 6 years old, not in the way that the news media cover them. Today’s bombings are among them.

I usually listen to public radio in the car. Before I got out of the car to pick my children up this afternoon, I switched over to a Laurie Berkner CD. I did the same thing in the aftermath of the Connecticut school shooting. I believe that it’s important to teach my children to be citizens. I believe that they should know and care about current events and people outside their immediate sphere. I also believe that there are some forms of ugliness from which they still need and deserve to be protected. I believe that one of my jobs is to filter information that is just too difficult or complex for my daughters, for now. There will be plenty of time for them to experience the full weight of the world when they are older.

We only turn our television on once a month or so, but even if I were still in the habit of catching the local news, the TV would be off today and for the next few days. We’re going to be avoiding the radio for the next while, even music stations, because they do often broadcast snippets of high profile stories. PBS has an excellent guide to how to handle exposure to and discussion of disturbing news events with children of different ages.

Over the next hours and days, I’m going to have to figure out how to handle it if my daughters hear about the Boston bombings at school. They have a lot of older friends, and other parents may not be as vigilant as me at keeping the news and its disturbing images out of their homes. Kids overhear teachers talking all the time. I think I’ll just make some sort of open-ended statement in the morning: “If you hear about something in the news that you want to talk about, remember that you can always come to me.”

As with all things, if we need to discuss today’s tragedy, I will be honest. I will tell the children that I, too, am scared and sad and angry. I will tell them that I don’t understand why some people are so broken that they would want to hurt others. I will tell them that I know that we live in a mostly safe world, but that unexpected tragedies happen and that I find that very frightening. I will remind them that most people in the world are like Daddy the soldier, Grampy the firefighter, their great uncle the policeman, and all the wonderful teachers and mentors in their lives. Most people are there to protect them, and they are safe, even if it sometimes doesn’t feel that way.

Do your kids see or hear the news? Are their certain stories you filter? At what age do you think it’s appropriate to start and stop shielding children from media coverage of disturbing developments?

Sadia is the mother of 6-year-old twin daughters and a former US army wife, now divorced. She lives in the Austin, TX area, where she works in higher education information technology. She is originally from the United Kingdom and Bangladesh.

Safety in the Big Bad World

I know that my job is not so much to protect my daughters from the big bad world as it is to prepare them to tackle it increasingly independently as they grow. Despite the urge to wrap them in a protective cocoon of parental control, I force myself to let my nearly 7-year-olds experience the world and fight their own battles, within reason.

For Easter, my daughters received small kites from their father and stepmother. We live on a quiet suburban street, so when my daughter J begged to fly her kite on the sidewalk while I cooked dinner last week, I agreed, trying to hide the knot of fear in my throat. I watched her from the kitchen window. She raced up and down the sidewalk, never going more than two houses away, never getting too close to the street, laughter pouring out of every pore.

The next afternoon, J’s twin sister M joined her, although they were back in the house in minutes. The kite had landed in a tree, fortunately within my reach. The grilled cheese sandwiches and apple slices I was working on didn’t take too long, so there wasn’t time for any more kite flying that day.

On Thursday, when I arrived to pick my children up from after school care, there were three police cars parked at the intersection where I turned to park. I asked the caregivers what was going on. They shooed my daughters away to retrieve their backpacks and quickly told me that a man had attempted to abduct a boy at that intersection. The boy got away, but was injured. No one there was sure how badly he was hurt, but a policeman had stopped by to talk to the after school caregivers, to tell them what was going on and to ask questions. The would be abductor had escaped.

I briefly considered not telling my daughters what I’d just learned, but decided that they needed to know that vigilance was important. They’re outgoing little girls who befriend others easily, and lack the instinct to distrust strangers. I told them what I knew, leaving out the part about the boy having been injured, and told them that I was going to ask them not to go out of the house without me, except to our fenced back yard. I promised to take them kite flying in the park after church.

J’s questions were about the boy and what the police were doing to catch the bad man. She walked around our house with me to ensure that all our blinds were closed before bed, and was generally satisfied with our safety. M refused to be in any room without me that first night, but has since relaxed.

I don’t think I’m overreacting. My kids still spend all day at school and after care without me. I still let them let go on my hand on the way to dance class or church or stores once we’re out of the parking lot. I’m just not ready to let them out of the street unless there’s a trusted adult with them. Eventually, though, I’m going to have to let them explore the world without me. I can only pre-screen their peers, teachers, and mentors for a little longer.

That terrifies me.

Sadia is raising her 6-year-old identical twin daughters in the suburbs of Austin, TX. She is divorced and works full time in higher education IT.

Balance in Baby Proofing

We purchased our first home in anticipation of having a child, and found out that we would be having twins soon before we moved in. I was prepared to install every baby proofing gizmo known to mankind, but my husband had other ideas. When I proposed baby gates on either side of our the kitchen area of our open living space, he argued that our children should be included in food preparation and taught kitchen safety. My suggestion of foam bumpers on the corners of our dining table was countered with a recommendation that we see how old the twins were before they were tall enough for those corners to be a concern. I wanted to invest in a television cabinet that could be closed against inquisitive fingers, but my husband believed that children should be taught their limits within an adult world, instead of having a limited area of the world cordoned off for them.

I think we struck a healthy balance on the baby proofing front. A couple of the lower kitchen cabinets had baby latches, keeping the girls away from electronics and chemicals. They had free access to pots, pans, and food storage containers. We installed outlet covers on unused electrical outlets, but we taught the babies not to touch plugs instead of preventing their access to them. The only significant injury suffered by either of our daughters was a magnificent bump on J’s head from diving off the couch at around age 2. I was right there, but didn’t quite reach her in time to prevent her head from hitting the tile. I called 9-1-1, but the paramedics declared J perfectly fine and concussion-free.

The girls’ cribs were our 100% safe spot. My husband insisted on solid wood construction without any moving pieces. I insisted that the cribs not have bumpers, because of the suffocation hazard, and used sleep sacks to keep them warm. When I absolutely had leave the babies, they went in their cribs. Yes, even mothers of twins must use the bathroom, and even shower occasionally. We were lucky that M and J had never thought to climb out of their cribs by the time we deemed them ready for big girl beds.

The knowledge that M and J can understand and honour limits has always made me feel like I can handle them in any situation. My mother is astonished that I’ve always taken the girls everywhere with me, starting at about 6 weeks of age – to work functions, on playdates, shopping, to restaurants, to parks, fairs and festivals, and to friends’ houses. Frankly, Mum was surprised that I felt comfortable taking the babies anywhere. It never occurred to her that one could go out with a baby, because our home had been a completely safe space during my childhood, and household staff ensured 24/7 oversight of my younger sister by the time she was born.

Honestly, the day that the children and I don’t leave the house was a rare one when we lived in an area I knew well. As with many people, I may have reacted to an extreme in my own childhood—a narrow, protected world—by taking my own parenting to other extreme. In retrospect, my husband’s foresight in teaching our children limits within the home has given J and M discipline and given me confidence as a mom. It’s this discipline and confidence that has enabled us to hunt worms, ride bikes, “fish” in puddles, enjoy theatre and make new friends.

To what extent is/was your home baby proofed? Is there a relationship between the degree of baby proofing that was right for your family and the frequency with which you explore the larger world with your kids?

Sadia is a working mom of 5-year-old identical twin girls, J and M. She used to blog publicly at Double the Fun, but took her blog private as the girls entered elementary school.

Ask the Readers: Speaking Up

What do you do when you observe an uninformed parent putting her child in danger?

No one likes unsolicited advice, especially when it comes to parenting. Strict routines work for some families, and not for others. Breastfeeding works for some mother-child pairs, and not for others. Discipline comes in as many flavours as there are children in the world.

However, there are times that it’s difficult, perhaps even immoral, to stay quiet.

My husband and I recently observed a young mother picking her child up by the head. Her thumbs under the baby’s ears, her pinkies at the base of his neck, she lifted his entire body to kiss him gently on the forehead. His body swung from the neck. To us, this screamed of possible cumulative spinal injury. We communicated our concerns to the mother. Her response was, “I don’t see the problem. I do this all the time.” We found some documents on spinal injuries in babies and gave them to her, although nowhere were we able to find a clear directive forbidding this sort of lift.

We may have very well destroyed our relationship with this mom, whose son we adore, but we couldn’t have lived with ourselves if we didn’t say something.

What would you have done?

Back 2 the Future: Child-proofing

Griff Thena Phe recliner3 121605
“Child-proofing” is a term that gives me a good hearty chuckle, like “potty trained.” We child-proofed the heck out of our house when we were expecting the twins. Magnetic locks on all the cabinets, with the magnet stored up high. Gates at the top and bottom of the stairs. Locks on all the door handles, outlet covers out the wazoo, chemicals stored up high (except personal lubricant)… The kids had the run of the living room, kitchen, dining room and hallway, but couldn’t get anywhere else.

That was perfect, until the twins learned to walk.

From: me
Date: 12/20/05 21:09:12
To: NorthernWarrenCountyOhioFreecycle@yahoogroups.com
Subject: [Freecycle] ISO baby gates PLEASE!!!

Please, for the love of all that is sacred, if you have a spare baby gate, would you consider giving or loaning it to me?

I have 16-month-old twins and I just cleaned the kitchen trash off the floor for the 9th time today. This is AFTER I taped the lid shut. They just used their twin powers for evil and lifted the lid right off.

We have two gates but they are on the top and bottom of the stairs. I never would have dreamed we’d need to gate them out of every part of the house. Silly me.

So please, I am nearly in tears because they think they are hilarious but I can’t take this anymore! If you have a gate you aren’t using I PROMISE I will return it to you if you can loan it to me. Or maybe I can trade you for something. We just don’t have any $ for gates until at least the new year, and even then… Gates are crazy-expensive.

Thank you in advance!

[Note: The twins thinking they are hilarious frequently coincides with me nearly being in tears. That hasn’t changed in the last four years.]

This post resulted in an intimidating fencing system cobbled together from various semi-broken baby gates. On the plus side, the boys were finally confined to the living room and hallway and were no longer free to roam and plunder the garbage. Sadly, my 3-year-old had to be able to predict her need to urinate in enough time to press the release button – which only sometimes worked – on the hall gate blocking the babies from the kitchen/dining room/bathroom. And my blog is named “Diagnosis: Urine,” so we all know how that worked out for me.

Any good “child-proofing” stories in your past?

Jen is the married work-from-home mother of 7-year-old Miss A, 5-year-old boys G and P, and 3-year-old Haney Jane. She also blogs at Diagnosis: Urine.

Things That Go Bump in the Night

I wasn’t sure what topic to write about today, but as is common, a subject from my daily life provided me with more questions than answers, and hence a blog post was born.

I went to the gym today, and returned home sweaty and in need of a shower. My mother-in-law, who was watching Faith and Jonathan, had to leave. Showering while the kids are awake is a scenario I try hard to avoid. Normally I am up and ready for the day before I go into the nursery to get them out of their cribs. But today was different.

The kids’ room is pretty well childproofed, so we headed there. The dresser is teathered to the wall, the wall plates are the child-safety kind, the door has a plastic lock in it, and all climbable furniture (except the rocker) has been removed. Jonathan was in a “rough” mood, meaning he was treating Faith like his middleweight sparing partner. For both their safety, and my sanity, I put them in their cribs with books and toys and told them I would be back in 10 minutes.

Three minutes into my sudsing, I heard a loud thump followed by a wail. And I just knew Jonathan had climbed (or fallen-depends on how you look at it!) out of his crib.  The crying didn’t seem life threatening, and stopped after about 30 seconds.  I was then hopeful that maybe he had just dropped a toy on the floor. Twenty seconds later a little hand pushed open the bathroom door. I could just imagine his glee “Found you mama!”

As I stood there dripping wet, I convinced him to shut the bathroom door as I remembered the gate to the top of the stairs was open. While he played on the scale, in the relative safety of the bathroom, I quickly shaved my legs while screaming inside “I AM NOT READY FOR THIS!” Toweling off, I escorted the escapee back to his room where I witnesses Faith’s efforts to follow in her brother’s footsteps. Thankfully, she is still to short to perform such a maneuver, but it won’t be long before she grows another inch or two.

I immediately sent up a red flag on my blog calling for all suggestions. And since I needed a topic to write about for HDYDI, I have decided to widen the net and utilize the rest of our readership!  Here are a few questions I have been mulling:

At what age do you plan on/or did you move to toddler beds?

Once you moved to beds, could your kids remain in the same room?

What additional toddler proofing did you do?

How old is too old to be in a crib?

What are your thoughts on crib tents?

What are you best childproofing tricks and tips?

Any personal stories would be a great addition to this discussion…nothing like learning from our fellow bloggers and parents! For the record, I am going to try to keep my kids in their cribs for as long as I can do so safely.  F and J are only 18 months old, and are not at all ready to have the freedom of a toddler bed.  So, dear readers, this is my SOS! Or maybe I should say, SMS for SAVE  MY SANITY!

My little escapee

My little escapee

Product Review: Convertible car seats

Convertible car seats are something everyone has to think about, sooner or later.  Some are cheaper and others cost as much as a monthly car payment!  With that being said, i polled our HDYDI writers for some great info on their favorite car seats.

Now before i go through all the important info.  I want to state something that is true to some.  If you can’t afford the BEST car seat out on the market, you buy what you can afford!  Although, i myself, have what the consumer reports say are the best and safest car seats, I have to say, a car seat is a car seat, and even the cheapest car seat is better, than not having one at all.  The reason i am saying this, is because, i know from personal experience, that some people can’t afford an expensive car seat.  I won’t mention names or people, but i have seen a few people in my days, that just can’t afford a nice car seat and have opted to, instead, just plop their little tiny babies in the back seat without a car seat AT ALL.  I can say, i have REALLY seen this happen before.  I felt so horrible, i wanted to go out and buy a few families i know, a car seat, just so the poor baby wasn’t hunched over in the regular car seat.  And, YES it is totally ILLEGAL to not have your child in a car seat.  BUT, if you can’t afford one, what do you do???  If you had a choice between, feeding your child & putting a roof over that child’s head, it’s not just so simple to go drop a few hundred dollars on a car seat.  SO, with all that being said, here is a summary of what our HDYDI writers had to say:

  • Best car seat is Britax(per consumer reports) and everyone else.

-there are many different kinds to choose from and they vary in price and go up to right around three hundred dollars each.  I say, before you purchase one, you should really check around.  Babies R Us gives a twin discount, but you have to ask for it.  ALWAYS ALWAYS ask for those discounts…i ask everywhere i go.  What is the worst that could happen, they say NO?   Also, check on line.  Albeebaby.com is a really great website to buy big ticket items & I’m sure there are MANY MANY other websites out there that do the same.  I personally know albeebaby.com is great.  They didn’t charge shipping either.

I could actually write a novel on car seats, which are the best, which are not so great, which have the safest ratings, and such.  But the problem with that, is that everyone has a different want in a car seat.  SAFETY is always number one.  BUT, size, price, weight, comfort and many other different things also apply to a car seat.

I’m going to do a bit of a summary on each Britax car seat.  I’m also going to go through a few cheaper car seats that work just as well, per consumer reports.

Britax ROUNDABOUT – which is the least expensive of the Britax and is one of the safest car seats on the market.   These car seats are not very hard to install and if you have a later model car, chances are, you may have those cool metal hooks that make hooking the car seat in a breeze.  Then always remember to anchor the car seat down with the other hook going over the back of the seat if you have a suv(not sure about cars).   You can use this seat rear facing for children up to 33lbs(which is actually a higher weight for a rear facing seat).   Front facing, these car seats will hold children up to 40lbs.  SO, if you have larger children..you may want to think about the marathon or Boulevard(which both hold children up to 65lbs).  One reason to buy the roundabout is because they are cheaper AND smaller(which is better for people with compact cars).

The Marathons are the larger version of the roundabout.  I think most of our moms have either this seat or the roundabout.  I, myself, have three of these and love them.  What i can say personally, is that they are pretty easy to get in and out of cars.  These are larger and heavier than the roundabout.  They are patented for the HUGS system, which is a type of harness that helps evenly distribute the weight of the child evenly in a crash.  I have never had any problems with the harness system, personally.  Per consumer reports, they do not do as well rear facing, on the car seat crash test b/c of the anchor.  BUT, forward facing, they are one of the best.   The cover also comes off easily.  The straps are fairly easy to adjust but you have to take the entire seat out of your car.  Also, here’s a lesson i learned on a long trip from TX to MO.  BUY A EXTRA CAR SEAT COVER FOR YOU CAR SEAT!  We went on a long road trip a few years ago and my daughter ended up getting rotavirus on the road and i won’t go into details.  BUT, we ende up in the ER and my hubby had to hose down the nasty car seat.  If we had just had an EXTRA seat cover, we would have been much better off.  Every trip since then, we carry a extra seat cover.  You can order them on line or buy them at different speciality stores.  They are semi-pricy, but definitely worth the money to me.

Britax Decathlon & Boulevard are the best of the best.  The Boulevard has some extra padding along the inside of the car seat for added head protection on side impact.  This foam is head adjustable.  There is also a belly pad, infant liner.  There are a few other bells and whistles on the Boulevard, but the one that really jumped out at me is that it has a new knob for adjusting the height on the straps w/o having to rethread them as your child grows.  This is not a huge deal, but just a small inconvenience for those of us that own the roundabout or marathon.

The Decathlon is mostly the same with the only change being three positions for the crotch belt, so it can be positioned further away or closer to the child.  Otherwise, everything else is the same.

Now, after reading some more info on consumer reports.  I also found that the Evenflo Triumph 5 is just as good as the britax and much cheaper(120).  I won’t go into to many details about this car seat.  But in a nutshell, consumer reports said that this seat rates just as high forward facing, although rear facing it was not as safe as a Britax.  This seat goes up to 40lbs, so like the roundabout, if you have larger children, you may want to opt out of this car seat and choose one of the larger britax that are able to hold a child up to 65lbs.

A New car seat out there is the Sunshine Kids Radian 65.  This car seat has yet to be tested by consumer reports, so they can only go with what parents are saying on different reviews.  These seats are right around two hundred dollars per seat.  This one is for children up to 65lbs and has only been reviewed in the forward facing position.

There is also a Sunshine Kids Radian 80, which holds a child up to 80lbs.  These are a bit more expensive, but if you have a larger child, this may be the way to go.  These seats run about 280 each, give or take a bit.  A few things to know about the Radian seats is: they are fold-able(makes it easier to carry these around and travel with them), they are also narrower and have a steel frame(unlike the plastic frame from Britax).  A few cons would be that they are heavier(b/c of the steel frame), the crotch strap is to restrictive & they both have height limits of 49 inches.  So, even though the radian 80 is for heaver children, their is a chance that they child can outgrow the height limit before they hit the 80lb mark.

Here’s a tid bit of info i found on consumer reports about these car seats:

Sunshine Kids Radian Granite Convertible Car Seat

Price Range: $199 – $200 at 3 stores

Sunshine Kids’ Radian Convertible Car Seat was conceptualized and designed around a set of strict safety and performance parameters. Radian positions the child’s center of gravity as low and as far back as possible on the vehicle seat for optimal restraint performance, especially in oblique-angled crashes, which is how most car accidents occur. The Radian Car Seat’s EPS safety foam around the child’s head, torso and seating area, providing increased safety for impact protection. The Radian Car Seat has 3” more interior shoulder width of any car seat in its class. Its unique design is more than 2” narrower on the outside making it easy to fit 3 seats across. A 3” longer seat bottom and the forward-facing recline option provides increased comfort for longer rides and more leg support for the older child.

With all that being said, i feel that there are different car seats out there, to fit different needs for each individual.  With my situation, we have a big car, so seat size was never a big problem.  Our problem was having to purchase a bench seat so that all three of our children were in the middle seat.  The third row of our car is now non-existent.  Since our first child was so young when our twins were born we had to put her in the middle and the girls on the side.  It was easy when the girls were still in their infant car seats.  We’d load her up in the middle and then plop the car seats in the bases.  After we bought our big car seats and faced them backwards, it became a challenge of how to get our middle one into the car.  She learned to climb underneath the rear facing car seat and hop into her own middle seat.  Then i’d get into the car and turn around to strap her in her seat.  Sometimes i’d get so frustrated, i’d just take her in through the front seat and let her climb from the front seat into the her car seat.  The other problem for us, was the Britax are SOO big and my husband is so tall he’d ram the back of the seat into the back of the rear facing car seat.  The really bad part of this was that we have t.v.s in the head rests of the front seats.  After it was all said and done and we flipped the girls car seats to forward facing, we found out he ended up breaking the drivers side head rest t.v.!  I guess if we had been smart, we would have just poped the t.v. out of the head rest for a few months.  Maybe my story will save someone else some money.  If you too, have t.v’s in your head rests and your babies are still rear facing, simply pop the t.v’s out if your hubby keeps ramming them into the back of the car seat!  :)

Lastly, here are a few tips to remember about car seat safety:

1. Don’t buy used car seats.  You don’t know where they are coming from and if they’ve ever been in a wreck or not.

2.  If you have a wreck, always replace the car seat.  Do NOT reuse it after it’s been in a wreck.  You have no idea what has been done to the seat during the crash.

3. The safest place for a car seat is in the back middle seat.  Obviously for those with more than one, that just isn’t an option.  I would do my best to keep them in the middle seat and not put children in the back seat if you have 3 rows.  Of course if you have more than three children, you don’t have an option on that one either.

4. A five point harness is much better than a regular safety belt.

5. Always keep the receipt when you purchase a car seat.  Just to make sure you know that the seat works in your car.

6. BRU lets you take the car seats out before you buy, go there if you are not sure if the car seat will fit in your car.

7. Always fill out the paperwork that comes with the car seat and send it in.  That way, if there are recalls, etc, you will receive a note in the mail notifying you of the recall.

8. Check reviews on the car seat of your choice.  Actually, i do this with EVERYTHING i buy now.  That way you know what other people think about the item you are planning on purchasing.  Those reviews are awesome.  I can’t tell you how many times i’ve backed out on purchasing something b/c of bad reviews.  Also, if you find something you don’t like about a car seat, etc.  Leave a review and help others out.  I write reviews on items all the time.

Lastly, here is the consumer report website for car seat reviews.

http://www.consumersearch.com/www/family/car-seats/review.html

BTW, if you find a car seat you love or dislike, leave a comment here to help others out.  OR, if i’ve missed something you think is imperative to know about a car seat(purchasing one, etc), please leave a comment.  I did my best to cover as much as possible, but like i said before, i could write a book on car seats(pro and cons of each one).  There are soo many out there and everyone has different wants, so there just isn’t a short way to cover every want of every parent.

Ettiquette Question

Okay folks, I know we have a regularly featured “Ask the Mom’s” segment every week, but this week, I have a question for you!

Picture me pulling my kiddos down the sidewalk (Today they turn 1! Happy Birthday Jonathan! Happy Birthday Faith!). They are in their choo choo wagon, and I am pointing out various trees, shrubs and flowers to them, pretending that they not only understand me, but that they are also paying attention!

Suddenly, I hear a “woof!” And see a dog running toward us. I stop, turn toward the dog, step slightly in front of my wide-eyed kids and wait for the dog to approach us, which he does, thankfully with no apparent malice. The owner trails after him. She is a mother of two young children, and we have talked before. She tells me that they just got this dog, at a rescue. They already have one dog, who is on leash at all times, as he isn’t nice. But this dog (whom they have had all of a week) is gentle, kind and great with kids! I pet his head, admire his coat, and secretly hope that he will turn and walk away.

Instead, he sticks his big head into Jonathan’s face, and my heart skips a beat. My mother bear instincts tell me to remain calm, but to tear the dog into small pieces should he twitch a whisker at my offspring. The owner lightly laughs and eventually the dog wanders away, much to my relief.

We make our escape, me thanking God that our encounter went well. The last time a dog stuck his face near my son’s, it was a puppy, and my son BIT him. Thankfully, Jonathan did not bite the big dog…I just don’t even want to think about what could have happened.

Anyway, to get to my question…how do you handle situations that arrise in which your children could be in danger? Had it only been one child, I easily could have swooped him/her up into my arms, and felt good about that option. But when there are two or more to protect…how do you handle it?

The kids hanging out in their choo choo wagon, trying desperately to grab the cat's tail.

Also, as a former dog owner, I am clueless as to how to tell people to please keep their dogs away from my children. Clueless, because it never occurred to me to allow my dog near small children, especially while off-leash. As much as we love our pets, they are still animals. And animals are unpredictable, and can do damage, especially to small children. (Please note that I am not referring to your children and family pet interacting. Rather, how do you address strangers and their pets? As you can see in this picture, our cat gets very close to the kiddos!)

Any thoughts out there?

Safe At Home: More Than Babyproofing

As an impressionable third grader, I developed an acute fear of fire after a less than sensitive conversation with the visiting firemen.

 Fireman: “And how would you tell the firemen how to get to your house?”

 3rd grade Me: “Well, you would turn down X road, and our house is the one with a lot of shrubs.”

Fireman: “That isn’t a good enough description. We might not be able to find your house and your family could burn up in your house.”

 Okay, I admit, that probably isn’t exactly what he said, but that is what I remember. And ever since then, I have been very concerned about home safety.

 With lots of time to think about the future while lounging on the couch, heavily pregnant with twins, I began making lists…oh, did I make lists! And one of the lists I made, was in regard to home safety. Here are some steps we took to prepare our home for a family.

1. Bought and instaledl a smoke detector/carbon monoxide detector on EVERY floor. A local fire chief told me that the best kind to buy are the ones that plug in to an outlet…you never have to worry about batteries.

2. Have a fully charged fire extinguisher on each floor. I have one near the kitchen, and outside of the kids rooms. They do loose their potency, so check them every few months.

3. Swivel Outlet Covers: When preparing the kid’s room, my husband had the foresight to install swivel outlet covers. The way these work is simple…if the item plugged in is removed from the outlet, the outlet holes are immediately covered. Absolutely nothing can be shoved into the holes. We have the regular plastic covers in the rest of the house, but I feel better knowing that I can leave the kids in their room while I dry my hair, with one less hazard to worry about.

 4. I highly recommend furniture tethers. They are inexpensive, but very useful. My kiddos love to practice standing using their dresser handles, and mob me when I am putting away their clothes. They love to take the clean and folded clothes out of their drawers. Knowing that the dresser is secured to the wall allows them to play without Mama having to redirect them constantly.

5. Gates at the top of the stairs are a good idea! Yep, one of our kiddo’s recently took a header, and we learned the hard way, that we should have a gate at the top of the stairs, even if we have a gate in the nursery.

And althought this doesn’t fit under the heading of “safety,” I highly recommend purchasing a small fire-proof lock box. Unless you have a safety deposit box, you will want someplace safe to store the birth certificates and social security cards of your new babies when they arrive in the mail.

 It is never too late to take steps toward home safety. Stores like Lowes, Home Depot and Babies ‘R Us carry a variety of babyproofing items (cabinet locks, toilet locks, etc) that you may want to consider purchasing. Obviously, as parents we can’t protect our kids from all pain or accidents, but we can take some practical steps toward making our homes a safer environment. Now, if only I knew how to keep them from going in two different directions outside of the house!