CAR SEAT SAFETY! What you NEED to know!!!

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My name is Bree and I’m a certified Child Passenger Safety Technician or “CPST”. I’ve been certified for 5 years but have been into car seat safety for about 6 years. I haven’t always been into it; when I had my oldest, I was totally clueless and did pretty much EVERYTHING wrong. It wasn’t until I watched some videos on YouTube that my eyes were opened.

Car crashes are the #1 killer of children between the ages of 1 and 14. People always ask me “well, what about the children under 1 or over 14?”
The reason why car crashes aren’t the #1 killer for children under a year old is because they are rear-facing. I’ll go into why RF is safer in a moment.
And then, on the other side of the spectrum, car crashes aren’t the number one killer of children over 14 because their bones have matured and can fit into a seat belt correctly. And I’ll get into that in a little bit too.

But first things first.. Let’s talk about laws because a lot of people assume that if something is a law, it must be safe, right? Wrong.
The law here in CA for rear-facing is 1 year old and 20lbs. So, that means you can legally turn your baby forward facing at that age. However, that law is extremely outdated (it’s been around since I was a baby and obviously A LOT has changed since then as far as advances in technology and equipment). Check HERE for YOUR state law!

First thing to realize about laws is that they are minimums. Even the American Association of Pediatrics has stated to rear-face until at least 2 years old AND 30lbs. But again… that is their minimum. So, who do we go to next? who would know more than the AAP? How about the NHTSA? The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration. They are the ones who test our vehicles and have the crash test dummies and know EXACTLY what can happen. I think I’ll listen to them. After all, they’re the one going through all the research, right?

So, what does the NHTSA say? They say to rear-face until at least 4 years old OR until the maximum limits of your child’s seat.
What’s so special about 4 years old? That is when the spine starts to ossify (which means when it starts to harden and close). Children under 4 years old, have a very flexible and soft spine. Add that soft spine to a disproportionate head to body ratio and you have a recipe for what’s called internal decapitation. And yes, it’s as gruesome as it sounds. It’s when the spinal cord detaches from the skull internally. Which typically leads to paralysis or death.

A lot of people think “well, how the heck can I rear-face them for so long?? Won’t they get squished? Where do their legs go? I can’t afford an expensive seat. etc.”
okay, well, lets nip the “I can’t afford a good Extended Rear-facing seat”. You can get an ERF seat for as little as $70! And while even that is a lot to some people, it’s do-able.
How about where their legs go?
Much like when you’re in a recliner and can prop up your legs, that’s what rear-facing children do. They prop their legs up, sit crisscrossed, sometimes I’ll see kids throw their legs of the sides of their seats, etc.
A lot of people worry about broken legs while ERF. And while it *IS* a possibility, that’s actually one of the most common injury for FORWARD facing children, not rear facing. And even then, I’d much rather have my child have a broken leg than have a broken neck.

What makes rear-facing safer?
Well, like I said before, children’s heads are so disproportionate to their bodies. They’re very top heavy. It’s like sticking a golf ball on a toothpick.
Before children are 2 years old, their head accounts for 1/4 of their height.
It isn’t until the child is about 6 years old that their head is more proportionate… which also happens to be the age when the spine is usually done ossifying.
What RF does for these disproportionate bodies is take the brunt of the force an spread it out in the car seat instead of your child’s spine.

A lot of people say, “well, my child is big for their age.”..
It doesn’t matter, their BONES are still the same age. Just because your 2 year old is as big as a 4 year old does NOT mean their bones matured any faster, they’re still the bones of a 2 year old. The 4 year old’s bones are much more mature and stronger than a 2 year old’s no matter how big that 2 year old is.

Then the second most common argument I get is: “well, what if I get rear-ended? Won’t it be the same as if they were forward-facing?”
The short answer is no. While movement is similar, the difference between the two types of crashes are quite different.
Typically, when you’re rear-ended it’s at a slower speed. But the main difference is on how the car moves.
When you’re rear-ended you car moves WITH the crash and disperses the crash throughout. But when you’re hit head-on, you’re at a dead stop instantaneously and ALL that force is on the passengers.
So, no matter what.. rear-facing is ALWAYS safer.

Click HERE for an even more in-depth post on rear-facing!!

REAR-FACING RULES
-harness straps must be AT or BELOW the shoulders. This keeps the child from “ramping up” in the seat and allowing their head to go up above the car seat’s shell.
-for newborns and younger babies with poor head control, the car seat must be installed at a 45 degree angle. When the child is older, you can install it more upright, as inclined as 30 degrees (with the exception of some seats).
-harness must be “sung as a hug” and you should not be able to pinch any slack at the shoulders.
-the chest clip must be at arm pit level.
-do not allow the harness to be twisted.
-the installed seat should not move more than 1” side to side at the belt path. ONLY check at the belt path. It is OKAY for the top of the seat to move. This is normal.
-a rear-facing seat is outgrown when either of these things happen:
-your child exceeds the weight limit
-your child has less than 1” of shell above their head

So, what’s next after rear-facing?
Forward-facing in a harness.
The highest harness weight capacity right now is 90lbs. However, that’s kind of over-kill for a harness, so most seats go to 65lbs. forward-facing.
The reason I say that 90lbs. is over-kill is because by the time a child is 90lbs., they should be mature enough to be in a booster. And maturity is where having a child in a forward-facing car seat with a harness is important. Technically speaking, a 40lb. 4 year old is perfectly safe in a booster BUT.. and it’s a big BUT.. that’s ONLY if they can sit correctly in the booster 100% of the time. The majority of kids that age aren’t mature enough to understand that. So, being in a harness is key to keeping them safe. It’s only when the child is MATURE enough to move into a booster… which usually isn’t until about 6 years old. So, basically it’s safe to move them out of the harness as long as they’re over 4 years old, over 40lbs. AND mature enough.

FORWARD-FACING RULES
-harness straps must be AT or ABOVE. If they are below the shoulders, it will compress their spine in a crash.
-harness must be “sung as a hug” and you should not be able to pinch any slack at the shoulders.
-the chest clip must be at arm pit level.
-do not allow the harness to be twisted
-the installed seat should not move more than 1” side to side at the belt path.
-always use the Top Tether. This reduces head excursion.
a forward facing seat is outgrown when ANY of these three things happen:
-your child exceeds the weight limit
-your child’s shoulders are above the last harness slot
– the top of their ears are above the shell

So, that leads us to boosters.
There are two types of boosters. High Back Boosters and No-Back boosters.
Is one safer than the other? Yes and no. The high back booster offers side impact protection because it has head wings and also protects the torso area. The no back booster still positions the seat belt in the correct position, but there’s nothing there protecting the head and body.

The reason why boosters are needed is because seat belts are actually designed for a full-grown ADULT. So, if a child sits in a seat belt without a booster, it will not fit them correctly. Chances are, is that the shoulder portion will be across their neck and the lap portion will be across their stomach instead of their hips.

What happens when the lap portion is too high on the stomach is what’s called “seat belt syndrome”. The soft belly is not strong enough to withstand the forces of a crash. If the lap belt slides up over the hip bones and into the soft belly, the lap belt can cut through the belly all the way to the spinal cord causing injuries to the spinal cord and the soft organs in the belly. It’s seen most often in 4-10 year olds who are not riding in booster seats – although it can be seen in anyone when the lap belt rests on the belly.

BOOSTER RULES
-child is over 4 years old and at least 40lbs. AND mature enough to sit still.
-positions the shoulder belt in the correct place (between the shoulder and clavicle).
-positions lap portion low on the hips.
-do not let the belt be twisted
-when using a backless booster, your child MUST had a headrest up to at least the tips of their ears.
-you can only use a booster in a position that has both the shoulder and lap belts. You CANNOT use a lap belt only.

The law here in CA states that a child can move out of a booster at 8 AND 80lbs. or 4’9”. However, most children need a booster until 10 to 12 years old OR when they can pass the 5-step test:
1. Can they sit all the way back?
2. Can they bend their knees at the edge of the seat?
3. Does the belt fit correctly across the shoulder?
4. Is the lap portion of the belt low on the hips?
5. Can they sit correctly the entire trip?

MISCELLANEOUS CAR SEAT RULES
-ALWAYS READ YOUR MANUAL!!!
-Car seats expire. Most have a 6 year expiration date, some are more.
-Don’t use aftermarket products. It voids the warranty on your seat and it is not tested with those products. So, you’re using your child as a crash test dummy.
-You cannot use LATCH and the seat belt together. Using both puts too much pressure on the seat and actually cause the harness to rip out of the shell of the car seat in a crash.
-do not have your seat checked at a fire house or police station. Find a certified CPST through safekids. Most police and fire stations do not have someone certified and if they do, they generally aren’t up to date on the latest recommendations and aren’t familiar with every seat.
-do not listen to your child’s pediatrician when it comes to car seat safety. Again, chances are, they are not a certified CPST. It’d be like taking you car to get fixed at the dentist. You car doesn’t need a dentist. It needs a mechanic. Same with car seat issues. You don’t need a doctor, you need a CPST.
-do NOT buy a used car seat off of craigslist, ebay, etc. If you can’t trust the seller with your child’s LIFE, don’t buy a used seat. There is nothing wrong with reusing a seat from a previous child or using a seat from a family member or close friend that you TRUST. The problem with buying off craigslist (and the like), the majority of people on that site are there to make a quick buck. They will lie you about the condition and the care of the car seat.
-You MUST replace your child’s car seat after ANY accident (some companies have different rules, so make sure to refer to your manual if you’re unsure).
-Click HERE to learn how to properly clean a car seat!

Okay, well that leads us to YOUR safety and general safety in the car.
#1 wear your seat belt correctly. Your shoulder belt should lay between your shoulder and clavicle. And the lap portion should be as low as it can go, laying flat across your thighs. Don’t allow the belt to be twisted.
#2. keep your feet on the floor.
#3. no projectiles. If you don’t want that object thrown at your child’s face, put it under the seat or even better: in the trunk if you have one.
#4. pets. buckle them up! There are only a few pet harnesses that are crash tested, so shop wisely.
However, ANYTHING is better than nothing.
#5. keep up with vehicle maintenance (make sure you’re tires are good, oil is checked, fluids, etc.)
#6. don’t use your cell phone
#7. Be aware of your airbags. When driving, sit as far back as your can and put your hands at 9 and 3 or lower. When you were first learning to drive you were probably told 10 and 2, but studies have shown that this is unsafe. It actually puts your arms right in the path of the airbag! When you’re a passenger, sit as far back as possible. Do not put your feet on the dash and do not lean forward.
#8. sit upright. each recline notch makes you 5% less safe
#9. go the speed limit
#10. You must have a head rest up to at least the tips of your ears.
#11. you’re only as safe as the most dangerous person on the road.

And that’s what you missed! If you have any questions or would like your seat checked, don’t hesitate to ask! Feel free to copy and save these notes or share it! 

Redding, California Adventure

As some of you know, my cat had kittens and we’ve been looking for homes for the remaining two. My friend Gingi (Domestic Geek Goddess) made a blog post in hopes to help us find forever homes for them.

About a week after she posted, she texted me saying that someone from OREGON contacted her and was interested in “Kenny” (the orange maine coon kitten, named by Isaac)! I was surprised to hear that they were willing to meet half way and pay for my gas to get there!

So, on Friday, the girls and I headed up to Redding with Kenny (the boys went on an adventure of their own, fishing with daddy). Kenny was a little nervous (he actually panted a few different times while in the car)… but for the most part, he slept for most of the trip.
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Every time he woke up, I would try to take a picture, but he’d see my hand go towards him and he’d reach for me… so, the pictures looked like this:
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I did get a couple awake photos, but they weren’t very good because when he was awake, he wanted to be as close to me as he could get… which didn’t make for very easy photos since I was driving and couldn’t look while I was taking a picture!
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It was a nice drive… a little boring because there wasn’t much to look at, but we made it fun by singing along to music and finding cities that had funny names like this:
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YOLO! 😉

We got to Redding and met up with Kenny’s new “parents” at the California Welcome Center. I gave them a brand-new bag of his favorite food and that green pad (that’s pictured in his crate) because it was his favorite place to sleep when he was with us.
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Here’s Kenny with his new people
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I have spoken to them since they got home and they have assured me that he’s already very spoiled and they absolutely LOVE him. They will keep in touch and send me photos of him so I can see how he’s doing 🙂 I can’t wait to see how big he gets!!!

Since the Welcome Center was right next to the outlet mall, I let the girls do a little shopping so we could stretch out our legs (it’s a 5.5 hour drive each way). Of course, they picked Gymboree.
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Outside the Welcome Center is a bear… not a real one… the girls wanted a photo with him..
Here’s one before Bella changed into her new outfit
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and after she changed…
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And then they decided to be super sweet and hold hands while walking back to the car
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After we left, I decided to visit some family that I have in Stockton that I haven’t seen in YEARS… 15+ years actually!
My 2nd cousin, Dan is a pilot, so we met them in his hanger (they were all already there having a BBQ).
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that’s my (3rd?) cousin Christina whom is super sweet and it didn’t seem like we were meeting for the first time (like it does a lot of times when you meet distant family… you know that awkward.. hiii…….. how are you?…… *crickets*… lol.. it wasn’t like that at all 🙂
Here is my 2nd cousin Dan (he’s my mom’s cousin), myself and his airplane.
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It was a great visit, but it wasn’t very long considering we still had to drive home (it’s still about 2.5 hours to get home from Stockton) and I had to get up early the next day to host Gingi’s baby shower! Which she’ll be posting about soon and I will be reblogging it! So, keep an eye out for it!!!

San Diego Vacation and Bella’s 4th birthday! Picture OVERLOAD!

My family and I just got back last night from an 11 day vacation to So Cal. We mostly went to get away from the nasty valley heat (and cow smell) and the daily grind, but also to celebrate Bella’s 4th birthday!
Overall, it was a great trip! We “front-loaded” our trip, so the last 4 days were more full of visits with friends and family. Unfortunately, we still didn’t even get to see everyone I wanted to see since a lot of my family and friends were also busy with summer fun stuff… or just busy in general… and (literally) my whole family lives in San Diego… so, it’s hard to get around to see EVERYONE.

We left for San Diego on July 13th at 1pm and arrived at my mom’s a little before 7pm. Fortunately, my kids are amazing road-trippers, so we only had to stop once for potty breaks.
Anyway, right when we got there, my mom and John* (whom we stayed with for our entire trip) already had stuff there to keep the kids busy!
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The next day, we met up with my dad, Marie*, my brother, his friend John and my Grandma Lily at Chili’s. This Chili’s had a cool ordering tablet thing that our Chili’s doesn’t have here
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This is the only other picture I have from Chili’s (my phone was dying, so I couldn’t use it)
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After lunch, we went (with everyone except Grandma Lily) to watch Despicable Me 2 (super cute movie, btw) and went to Yogurtland for some yummy frozen yogurt!

Monday, we headed out to Knott’s Berry Farm with my mom.. Here’s a picture of my mom and Connor.. we were gassing up to go!
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and the backseat riders
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I had to turn Bella forward facing for this trip because it wouldn’t fit rear-facing next to Emmy’s seat… but only being a day shy of being 4 years old, I was comfortable with letting her ride forward facing 🙂

So, Day 1 at Knott’s was super fun…Isaac rode his first “real” roller coaster
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Here are some more pictures from day 1
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We actually got so tired that we went to our hotel room (which was literally across from the park) to rest.
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and then we went back.. here are some night time Knott’s photos
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Day 2 at Knott’s was Bella’s birthday (July 16th)…. Crazy how time flies… years ago, she looked like this:
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And has quickly blossomed into this very beautiful, smart, artistic little diva
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This was her birthday outfit from Knott’s (except for the shirt and shoes :P) It was extremely over priced.. I’m pretty sure I could’ve made it all for a fraction of the cost, but it was her special day so we didn’t care. The yellow pin that she’s wearing was given to her by Knott’s.  It’s a cute “sheriff’s badge” that has her name and age on it. It really made her feel special because all the Knott’s employees (and I mean every.single.one.of.them that saw her) would stop to talk to her and wish her a happy birthday.
Image If you can’t tell by the pictures, Bella LOVES Hello Kitty.. She already had a “medium” Hello Kitty plushie at home, but since it’s been well-loved, while we were waiting for this show, hubby went into the gift store that had a BUNCH of Hello Kitty stuff and bought her a new Hello Kitty… but he wanted to do more for her… so, when we saw that a lot of the games had (bigger) Hello Kitty plushies that you could win… that’s what hubby did.
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And, no he’s not good at basketball… so, it took a lot of tries. In fact, he made the winning shot on the time I said, “if you don’t get it on this one, that’s it..” lol.. pressure was on!
Anyway, day 2 was great.. here are a few more pictures
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Did I mention my husband is a big chicken and HATES rollercoasters?! Well, as you can tell from the look on his face, he is. He seriously gets so anxious and tense… even for the “easy” coasters. Which kind of sucks because I.freaking.love.rollercoasters!!!!
This is him after the ride… I told him he’d like it and he didn’t believe me at first, but it ended up being one of his favorite coasters.
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His other favorite coaster was called Pony Express.. and here are some pictures from that ride.. lol
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As you can tell from the THREE pictures we bought from them, we all liked the ride 😛
And here’s a really funny one… it’s of my mom and I from the most “extreme” coaster at the park.. it’s called Xcelerator. Honestly, (to me) it’s not really that scary, but just look at this gem of my mom.
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So, yeah, day 2 was awesome. Bella had a great birthday and we all had fun celebrating it with her at Knott’s.
Here’s a picture of Connor on the way back to my mom’s from Knott’s. That Keroppi that he’s holding is a prize that Isaac won 🙂 (You can kind of see Isaac sleeping in the background too)
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I wish I would’ve taken more pictures, but I tried to keep my phone put away for most of the time there because the last visit to Knott’s, I lost my phone 😦

Day after Knott’s, we went and watched my brother practice his motocross… that was fun to watch. Here’s a picture of the boys and my brother and his dirt bike.
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Okay, the rest is kind of a blur.. lol.. so, I’m just going to post more pictures.
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This was taken at a park down the street from my dad’s house. It’s one of my favorite parks to take the kids to 🙂 Emmy LOVES the swings.
July 17th is hubby’s sister’s birthday, so we went to this AWESOME Thai Restaurant called Siam Nara. If you’re in San Diego, go there. It’s the best Thai food I’ve had in a long time!
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We went to Sea World’s Aquatica water park on Thursday (or Friday….. idk…. like I said, it’s all a blur..lol). It was fun… it’s a pretty small waterpark.. but it’s VERY kid-friendly (the boys were tall enough to do EVERYTHING except 2 slides). I didn’t take too many photos because..well..it’s a WATER park and I’m too afraid of messing up yet another phone… and, unfortunately, our water-proof camera broke (or something…lol.. it won’t charge) just weeks before we left for vacation. So, you’ll have to deal with crappy cell phone pictures…
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We love food… and once I heard that there was a burger place called “Stacked”, where you can custom make your burger on an iPAD, I had to try it.
So, we went with my BFF Reyna from high school and tried it out. It was AWESOME.
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This is me and one of Reyna’s twins.. I think it’s Maddie… They’re identical though… so I can never tell…. LOL
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and here’s my awesome burger creation
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and here’s hubby’s burger
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umm.. let’s see… here are some other things we did…
went to the lake and had a picnic/bbq, fed ducks and went fishing with my dad, Marie, Charisse (whom I’ve been friends with since Kindergarten), Reyna, her husband Stas and their girls and my brother.
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it started to sprinkle at the lake, so we went to Chuck E. Cheese’s
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We also had a beach day since we never get to go to the beach anymore (the closest beach to us is 3 hours away)! We went to the spot that we used to always go to when we surfed. It’s not a very good “play” beach because of all the rocks and seaweed, but the kids still enjoyed it!
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this a-hole stole food from us (got the boys playing in the water in the background though..)
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after the beach, we were craving some fish tacos, so we went to Rubios
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We hung out some more with my BFF, Reyna… went to a park…
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went to her house and played with her rabbit, Mambo…. which turns out, I am still allergic to rabbits…… I puffed up shortly after this… LOL
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played some pool
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We also spent some time with my Aunt Melodie on a few seperate occasions (which I didn’t get any pictures of her and the kids! grr!!)… but I did get to see my cousin’s little girl who is only 2 months older than Emmy. It was totally cute because as soon as Emmy saw her, pointed to her and she asked, “who dat?!” lol I took a picture of them together, but I haven’t gotten the chance to ask my cousin for permission to post the picture. 😛

hmm.. let’s see… what else…

Hubby has been wanting a truck so that he can haul his boat and trailer… so, yeah… this happened… LOL
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Here’s a picture of hubby with two huge burritos from his favorite taco shop in SD, JV’s Taco Shop
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and on Tuesday night (the night before we left), Reyna and I decided to have a mommy’s night out (we both needed it).
It was actually the first time EVER that she has driven me somewhere…. LOL
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we went to this new (amazing) mexican restaurant down the street from her house called Casa Sol Y Mar. Everything about it was GREAT!
here’s my cheese enchilada plate 😀
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On the trip back home, the girls rode with me (they both had to show me their ages… LOL)
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and the boys rode in hubby’s new (to us) truck!
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And that was our trip in a nutshell!!!

*John- My mom’s boyfriend/fiancé
*Marie- My dad’s girlfriend

How to Properly Clean a Car Seat

For those of us that are parents, there is one thing that inevitably happens… typically at the worst times in the worst place…

your kid VOMITS…. not just a little. No. We’re talking PROJECTILE vomits.

One of the worst places?
Their car seat. Car seats have so many straps, creases and crevices that the vomit just seeps into. Problem is: you can’t just hose it off! There are many steps that you need to follow to make sure you don’t ruin your child’s car seat. You don’t want to compromise your child’s safety over a silly mistake… and yes. It’s that serious.

First things first. READ YOUR MANUAL. READ YOUR MANUAL. READ YOUR MANUAL!

Here are the rules to ALWAYS abide by when washing your child’s car seat:
#1. NEVER submerge the straps in water (you cannot put them in the washer or sink, tub, bowl, bucket, etc. that is full of water). This weakens the webbing in the straps and causes them to stretch far too much in an accident.
#2. Unless stated in the manual, do NOT put the cover in the washer or dryer (if your manual states that you can, use the “delicate” or “hand wash” cycle and for the dryer, use a no heat setting).
#3. Do not use any abrasive cleaners or laundry detergent. Your child’s car seat cover has flame retardant on it. Washing it in detergent or with cleaners (like oxy clean, bleach, etc.), strips away the flame retardant.

So, what do you do?
I’ve put together a step-by-step photo tutorial because I know it can be confusing.. even if you’ve read the manual (which you should ALWAYS read your manual).

For this tutorial, I am cleaning Bella’s seat: a Britax Pavilion G3. Car seats are all made differently, so chances are, you won’t be able to follow this exactly.. but these main steps will be  the same or similar for the majority of car seats. But, again, read YOUR manual.

This is what the seat looked like when I first bought it:
(Disclaimer: there is misuse in this picture. The seat was set up for Bella, but Emmy wanted to sit in it. The straps are too high and the strap is twisted.)
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so clean!
And today:
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Nasty!!!!

So, here’s what you’ll need:
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-baking soda
-vinegar
-a toothbrush (NOT yours… use your husband’s if you’re mad at him!)
– a sponge
– Q-tips
– a DAMP rag
– a vacuum

Step #1:
STRIP IT.
This car seat has two pieces to the cover (some car seats only have one piece, some have more). If you think you’ll have trouble with reassembling your seat, I’d recommend taking pictures of yours as you disassemble it!
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most covers are attached with these little elastic loops (some car seats have plastic clips.. this seat has both).
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ta-daa.. naked head rest!
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Then I took the rest off:
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Then you have a naked seat. PLEASE ignore the phallus shaped crotch pad. Seriously, Britax?!
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hahahahahahaha….. sorry, still laughing.

Step 2:
REMOVE THE HARNESS.
First, loosen the harness all the way.
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this exposes the “yolk” that holds the straps together and makes it more accessible.
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then, unthread the harness loops from the yolk
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turn the car seat back around and pull the straps through
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then, flip it upside down and find where they end
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turn them and slide them through the slot:
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once you have the straps out, find the crotch strap and do the same thing.

Once you have all the straps off, take off the chest clip (and I had to remove the HUGS; only Britax seats have these).
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** I don’t remove the crotch buckles  because they can be cleaned easily without taking them off the straps.. but if you want to, you can (with some seats, you have to).

Now that you have the seat disassembled, you can start cleaning!
So…
Step #3:
wash the chest clip, HUGS and crotch strap
The crotch strap is where the damp towel and tooth brush come in. Use the damp cloth to wash the webbing and the toothbrush for the weird crevices.
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next, simply wash the chest clip and HUGS (if you have them) with warm water
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then, you’re done with those!
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Step #4
WASH THE STRAPS
hold the strap vertically and with your opposite hand, pinch the damp towel around the strap and wipe vertically.
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look at all the brown vomit I already washed off *gag*
Once you’ve wiped it that way, turn it the opposite way (but still vertical) and repeat that same…stroking motion… oh, Lord… now who’s being phallic?….
Then after that, scrub the straps horizontally.
I’ve found that doing this, it gets into the fibers better. Also, when your rag gets dirty, rinse it out with warm water and wring it out before wiping more.
This is also when I clean the crotch buckles
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Now that those are all clean..

Step #5
Rinse the cover pieces in the sink (you don’t want puke floating in your bath tub)
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I use the hottest water possible and spray off as much stuff as I can.

Step 6:
Fill your bath tub with warm water, 1/4 cup baking soda and 1/4 cup vinegar, mix it up and throw the cover in it.
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Then I get in and stomp all over it and swish it around
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I like to pretend I’m stomping on grapes and making wine like on I Love Lucy
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Use the sponge to scrub the really dirty spots. On Bella’s seat, it’s the bottom area because she’s still rear-facing and her shoes get all over that part
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Step #7:
Rinse it out and wring it out as much as possible
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then throw it in the dryer (remember to use a NO HEAT setting). I like to put it in there with DRY towels (to help soak up the water)… this time, I just threw it in with the last load of laundry that happened to be in there.
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Quick dryer tip: every 20 minutes, take the cover out and re-dry the towels/clothes on a heat setting (they will have soaked up A LOT of the water).. and once they’re dry, put the cover back in and restart the NO HEAT cycle.
Or you can drape them over some chairs
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While it’s drying….

Step #8:
Clean the shell
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Use the q-tips to get into all the tiny crevices
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I like to put a q-tip in the damp towel to run it through the dirty areas..
Here I’m using a q-tip to get some kind of crumb out from the headrest adjuster spring (no wonder it seemed so difficult to adjust lately)!
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Some of the areas are too deep to get to, so I use a butter knife (carefully) to loosen the crumbs that got wedged in there (this is under the seat)
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Another good way to loosen these crumbs is to turn the car seat upside down and shake the bejesus out of it. Once it’s all loose, use your vacuum hose attachment to suck it all out.
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Step #9:
Work all the moving parts of the seat. Here, I moved the headrest up to the highest position which loosened up even more crumbs.
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Step #10:
Reassemble the seat!
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Make sure everything is put together correctly. Loosen and tighten the harness (and tug on it), clip and unclip the chest clip, and buckle and unbuckle the crotch buckles.

And your seat is ready to get back in the car!

This whole process is rather lengthy (this took me 4 hours total.. drying takes up the majority of that), so if you don’t have a spare seat, don’t plan on going anywhere soon ;P

A lot of people ask me what they should do if they already washed their seat incorrectly. Fortunately, you can purchase a set of new straps, buckles and covers from your car seat manufacturer. If you do purchase new covers and straps, make sure it’s from the manufacturer! DO NOT purchase covers from independent sellers (like Etsy).
Some ask, but what if the straps still stink?
Sunlight works best! Leaving them in the sun all day works best, but if you don’t have that kind of time, add baking soda and vinegar to the water that you use for the rag. The vinegar smell WILL go away once it’s dry.

If you have any other questions, please leave a comment below!

I’m a Cheap Version of a “Crunchy” Mom

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What’s a crunchy mom?
Well, there are varying degrees of “crunchy”. However, if you do any of the following, you’re on the spectrum of CRUNCHY!
-drug-free, all-natural births
-breastfeeding and extended breastfeeding
-cloth diapering
-babywearing
-co-sleeping or bedsharing (yes, they’re two different things)
-homeschooling
-using all-natural and organic foods, cleaning products and hygienic products.

Watch this video. If you’re crunchy, you’ll find it hilarious! It was made by one of my favorite blogger/vlogger, Mama Natural.

I don’t really consider myself a hardcore crunchy mom; I do think I’m “crunchier” than the majority of America because I do 5/7 from my list. But, like I said, there are varying degrees of crunchy.
For example, if I wanted to up my crunch factor, I could:
-buy a hybrid car (but with a family of 6, my choices of hybrid cars are extremely limited)
-ONLY shop organic and local (I try to do my best with this. I’d say 85% of our food and products are organic and I enjoy shopping at our local Farmer’s Market.. but most of the time, I’m shopping at Fresh&Easy)
-use my backyard for a luscious garden to grow my own food (which I fully intend on doing, but we just moved and our backyard project is on the backburner unfortunately)
-homeschool (right now, that wouldn’t be an option.. for my own sanity. But I do plan on homeschooling once the kids are all older and less dependent on having my attention 24/7)
-and if I *REALLY* wanted to get all hippyriffic, I could start buying organic materials and making our own clothing…. buuuuuut that will never happen because I cannot sew, crochet or knit to save my life. So, hopefully, nobody ever says, “make me a shirt or I will kill you” because… I will die.

I haven’t always been so crunchy. With my first 3 children, I had epidurals, didn’t breastfeed for very long, didn’t bedshare, bought the cheapest cleaning supplies and hygienic products (which are mostly made of harmful chemicals) and I thought “organic” was just a marketing ploy and didn’t have any health benefits).

Now that I know better (and am SLOWLY transitioning my family’s lifestyle), here are the things I do.. and how I do crunchy the CHEAP way!
Top 3 products I buy in bulk:
#1. Coconut oil and hells ya, I buy the 1 gallon tub. Check out 101 uses for it! I use it mostly for toothpaste, hair gel for the boys and for our skin!
#2. Baking Soda. I use it as a face wash/scrub (just warm water and baking soda, mixed until it makes a paste.. and ta-daaa face wash.. and yes, it totally works.. my skin is bootaful… especially when I use coconut oil on it afterward as a moisturizer. Just remember to wipe off the oil after about 10 minutes if you plan on going out of the house.. otherwise you’ll be supah shiny. I like to let it all soak in though.. I don’t mind the temporary oily feeling). I also use baking soda in my laundry (I used to get all fancy and made homemade laundry detergent… but I ain’t got time fo dat. Okay, I do… but I found that just using baking soda and vinegar with hot water in my washing machine works just as well for us) **I want to add that for laundry, I don’t use fabric softener sheets in the dryer; instead, I use Woolzies. Mine are unscented, but sometimes I will add a couple drops of lavender essential oil to them! I also use baking soda, vinegar (and lemon juice) in my dishwasher as well instead of my fancy homemade dishwasher pods. And lastly, baking soda is GREAT for those stuck on messes (especially on the stove). Just make a paste, let it sit for a bit and scrub it off! I do this for my countertops, stove and oven, bathtubs and sinks.
#3. Vinegar. Did you know that vinegar is a natural disinfectant? It is! Sure, it smells… but the smell goes away once it dries. So, I use it to disinfect my countertops, bathtubs, sinks and the kids’ toys. It also works great as a window and mirror cleaner!

So, what about other hygienic stuff? A common misconception is that you need all those chemicals to keep yo stank nasty self in check. But you have to remember that what you put ON your body is just as important as what you put IN your body. So, let’s review my family’s hygienic items:

Shampoo and Conditioner:
My husband and I use Renpure Organics. I was doing the whole  “no ‘poo” thing for a while (almost a year!), but truth is, I missed the fruity smells! So, I found the most affordable, organic alternative! I buy it from the Grocery Outlet for less than $4 each.
For the kids, I am still doing the no ‘poo because they’re kids and haven’t hit puberty yet and they don’t care! For Bella’s conditioner/detangler I use organic Argan Oil. (which I also use for my hair since I have dry hair).

Soap:
baking soda/water paste mixed with essential oil (I like lavender)

Aunt Flow:
I have a Diva Cup .. however, I have yet to use it because I’ve only had ONE period in the last 2.5 years (thank you breastfeeding!!!) and it was so light that I didn’t need it. Sorry, TMI?

Deodorant:
We use Nature’s Gate Organics. I typically order it from Amazon for less than $5 and it lasts us a month.

Hand soap:
DIY Foaming Hand Soap
I had made a liquid hand soap prior to finding this recipe, but it didn’t lather and that freaked out my husband. He thinks that no lather=not clean (which is not true). 😉

Toilet paper and paper towels:
I won’t lie, sometimes we do “family cloth” (usually when we run out of TP…LOL).. but since we have so many kids, it can get gross since they don’t care to dispose of it as discreetly. I’ll leave that to your imagination. So, I buy Seventh Generation in bulk on Amazon or if I need some in a pinch, I buy the Green Things brand at Fresh&Easy.

Other tips on how to be crunchy the cheap way:
-Use reusable bags (I keep some in my car, some in my stroller and some in my bike that way I don’t ever forget them)! Look around in thrift stores and garage sales so you don’t have to spend $1-$2 on a bag.
-walk or ride your bike instead of driving (luckily, I live in a really small town, so the kids and I usually ride our bikes or walk everywhere). If you live in a bigger city, check out your local transit services. When the kids and I lived in San Diego, we rode the buses and trolleys a lot and even though it took forever to get to some places, the kids thought it was fun; like an adventure!
-RECYCLE! I can’t stress this one enough…. seriously, it’s so easy. So, just do it.
-Have a compost pile or bin! Having one helps a lot especially if you have a garden. I’ve already started my compost buckets so It’ll be ready when I finally get to my garden! Right now, I just have a couple buckets that I drilled holes in the top and bottom to aerate them.. but I plan on doing THIS!
-get rechargeable batteries and dispose of the old ones correctly!
-Use compact fluorescent, LED or halogen bulbs instead of conventional incandescent bulbs.
-cut out as much plastic from your life as you can. Stainless-steel and glass is much better.. my personal favorite are mason jars. I LOVE doing these spill-proof mason jar straw cups and use stainless steel straws.. For plates and bowls, if you have young kids like I do, make sure to use glass that’s durable. Corelle is an excellent substantial brand and these ones are my kids’ favorite so their food doesn’t touch! And I love the thermos Funtainer cups for my kids when they’re away from the table!
-use stainless steel or cast iron pots and pans. Quit using those non-stick pots and pans that are dangerous!

Alright, I think that’s about all I can cram into this blog! I hope you have the time to take a look at the links provided for additional information!

If you have any questions or requests for future blog posts, leave a comment below!

I’m best friends with my husband’s ex-girlfriend!

Yep, you read that right. BUT! They dated in MIDDLE SCHOOL, so that’s why it’s not “so weird” like most people think it is… well, some people still think it’s weird… but whatever.. it’s not to us and that’s all that matters, right?
Anyway, moving on… today was a rough day for me because we had to say goodbye. I was going to wait a bit before writing this entry because I knew I’d probably cry the entire time…. and I was right. But I figured the post would be more heart-felt and genuine if I wrote it while I was bawling my eyeballs out.

This is Jenelle!
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Pretty, huh? 🙂

Through the years, I haven’t really had too many best friends that I really connected to.. Actually, I can count on one hand how many REAL best friends I’ve had in my entire life.
I’m happy to say that Jenelle is one of them and always will be. The number one reason is because she’s Emmy’s “daddy”.

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Okay, well.. not biologically, but she was the one that drove me to the hospital, was there for me during labor, helped me through labor, cut Emmy’s cord and she was the first person (other than me) to hold her 🙂  … Where was my husband? At work. So, Jenelle stepped in 🙂
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To this day, having Jenelle there on such an amazing day has made a special bond between us… and not to mention, the unique bond between Jenelle and Emmy.
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We’ve had SO MANY great memories together and I could keep you here all day showing you pictures (we both like to take a ton of pictures) of us and our kids. But, don’t worry, I won’t. Ain’t nobody got time fo dat.

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This is the first time we hung out and shared things that you’d only share with close friends. Guns.
Okay, well, we shared more intimate details of our lives as well… but, yay GUNS! The other stuff is private. So, back off. You’ll have to leave ALL that to your imaginations.

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This was Halloween 2011… and no, we didn’t coordinate our costumes. We’re just awesome like that. We have a knack for thinking the same things, at the same time.

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this was taken in Vegas at the live taping of the Lionel Richie and Friends concert. It was part of Jenelle’s birthday present that I surprised her with that year 🙂 I bought the tickets thinking it was just a Lady Antebellum concert (it came up when I searched their name…), but it was actually the Lionel Richie thing. It actually turned out to be a deal because there were a ton of other country artists there that we both loved. We tried to find some of them in the casinos after the show, but that was a fail 😛 But it was still fun!

There are many more pictures I could show you from that trip (we also went to San Diego), but I thought I’d share some pictures from other memories that mean just as much to me. Oh, and here come the tears again.

This was our last pool day together…
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Our walks.
Seriously, walking with this girl (and going to the GYM) made it fun. And that right there is amazing because anyone that knows me, knows that I hate walking and hate the gym. But, for whatever reason, whenever we’d walk somewhere, I felt like I could walk for days.
She is an amazing motivator and inspiration. She kept me going and helped me get from my fatso-self, to my not-so-fatso-self.
Speaking of fatso…. look how much we’ve BOTH changed!
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Anyway, this is getting long. I’ll wrap it up! Since you’re probably reading this Jenelle, this is for you!

Dear Jenelle,
I just wanted to say thank you for everything you’ve ever done for me and my family. You’ve been there for me through the ups and downs (ahh crap.. now that song’s stuck in my head…. God gave me you for the ups and downs… God gave me you for the days of doubt… :P). Thank you for being there for my kids and treating them like they were your own. Thank you for being the sister that I never had.. And thank you from the bottom of my heart for loving me for who I am.. and siding with me when it comes to arguing with Buck 😛
I will miss you everyday and love you always. I can’t wait to come visit you, Jeff and the kids (teeheehee) in Georgia someday!

I love you!!

Love,
Bree

MEET THE BUCKLEY’S!

Is that supposed to have an apostrophe?.. I can never remember…
ANYWAY… I figured since this is my first.EVER.blog post *deep breath.. I can do this*, I should introduce myself (and my family, of course)! So… here it goes…
I feel like this should be more formal, since well…. this is your first impression… buuuuuuut….. considering this is my THIRD.FREAKING.TRY for this ONE blog post, I’m just going to try to breeze through it. (You’d think since my dad is an electrical engineer that works on computers and stuff like that for a living, I’d be a little more computer savvy… but I’m totally not).

Third time’s a charm!

Meet THE HUSBAND!
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Whatever vibe you’re getting from this picture is probably correct.
My husband and I have been together since I was a sophomore in High School (and he was a junior). We’ve definitely gone through many ups and downs, but luckily, we always end up  working through anything!
He enjoys shooting, fishing, and well, anything outdoorsy actually… I call him my country boy!
He is loud, outgoing and laid back (except when it comes to the kids… he’s the “freak out parent”).
His nickname is “Buck”.. which he just recently found out I was not fond of.. (I wrote about “hating it” in my first attempt at this blog post).. It’s not really that I “hate ” it… hate’s a strong word… but it’s just so…. *clears throat*… redneck?.. It also reminds me of a deer. That’s what a male deer is called, right?
He asked me what I’d rather call him (I typically call him “daddy” if the kids are around and if they’re not, I just avoid saying his name.. no joke.. haha) and I honestly couldn’t think of a name that I’d want to call him.. So, I’m just thinking of calling him “hey” ;P

Meet THE KIDDOS!
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Why yes, they ARE cute!
I’ve always wanted to be a mom… ever since I was very young! I remember bringing my baby dolls with me when I’d go out with my mom; I wouldn’t just drag them along like a normal child would. I’d go into extensive detail to take my babies with me. I remember making a car seat out of a laundry basket, buckling it in and swaddling my baby. I was ecstatic when a lady in the parking lot said to me, “oh how sweet of you to be taking such good care of your baby brother” while I was carrying my swaddled baby into KMart. I’m not sure if the lady *really* thought the doll was real.. I mean, would someone really believe a mother would let a 3 year old carry their sibling around a parking lot? Thinking back, probably not. But, at that moment, my 3-year-old self believed the nice lady and I was SO excited about it.
So, when it came time to have kids of my own, I was over-the-moon.. albeit, still young… but we were ready.. Should we have waited?.. probably. But I believe everything happens for a reason and that God knows what He’s doing.
Connor is the oldest (7.5 years old). He is my caring, gentle soul and “easy” kid. Yeah, the kid you’re tricked into thinking all kids are easy…. then comes baby #2 and you think ‘WHAT THE HELL WAS I THINKING?!’.. yeah, that’s Isaac (6 years old). ;P Don’t get me wrong, he is one of the sweetest kids I know, but OMG, he can turn on the water works and make it seem like his world is coming to an end. Not even joking; he’s my overly-dramatic kid.
After Isaac, we thought we were done… and then SURPRISE… preggo with #3. Luckily, it was a GIRL this time. What the heck would I have done with THREE BOYS?! O_o .. surely, I would’ve gone insane. I was scared that would happen considering that’s my family’s “curse”… all boys. On my dad’s side, there are only two girls (me and one other cousin). So, I was super happy for Bella (she’ll be 4 next month)! She is my tomboy princess. She is a diva that loves to get down and dirty all while wearing a dress and heels.
After Bella, we felt a little more fulfilled… but we still didn’t feel “complete.”.. So, we tried for another girl using the Shettles Method. Fortunately, it worked! And we got Emmy (1.5 years old). She is my little cuddle bug and probably the easiest baby I’ve had. I’m not sure if that’s because I’m a seasoned mommy now and finally getting things right or if she’s truly just naturally an easy-going, smart, loving kiddo!
Did you notice the “tradition” of their names? No? Most don’t.. so, don’t feel bad. Let me try to make this short and simple. So, we’ve got Connor, Isaac, Bella and Emmy.
All have a double letter and two syllables! The first 3 were by complete coincidence! So, when we got pregnant with Emmy, we couldn’t just “leave her out”.. so, we scoured the internet for names that “fit”… it was hard because we weren’t “allowed” to reuse any letters (including what they started or ended with). The husband “settled” with the name Emmy (he wanted to break the mold and go with “Sophia”) and I’m glad he did because it fits her so well!

drumroll please……..
MEET MEEEEEE!!!!
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I cropped this photo because I’m hovering over a rather large piece of cake.. why am I hovering over cake?…. Because this photo was taken on my birthday (last SEPTEMBER). Yep, that’s right folks. That was the last decent photo that was taken. Why do I say “decent?” Well, because the last picture that was taken of (just) me looks like this:
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My mouth was stuffed with a Dragon Roll (it was freaking HUGE) and my husband decided to take a picture and I gave him the stink-eye…. and well, this is the result. I didn’t want anyone thinking that’s how I always look! 😉
Anyway, some things about me…. people say I’m pretty quiet (I guess I can agree with that), nice (which I think loosely translates to “push over” sometimes :/) and friendly… I can get along with just about anyone… I have a “type B” personality and just go with the flow!
My parenting style is more of the “attachment parenting” style.. But I hate the stereotypes that come with that title.. so, typically, I just like to tell people that I just do whatever comes natural and what I think is best for my family.

WHAT WILL YOU SEE IN FUTURE BLOG POSTS?
I plan to blog about things related to the kids.. I’ll post fun things we do, places we go, what we cook, reviews on things I buy, etc. I’m a stay at home mom so be prepared for lots of RANDOMNESS.

Until next time…..
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