I'm certain someone, somewhere, will want to vilify me for this post. I know this because that's exactly why I'm writing it. I know this because I've already seen people get jumped on for expressing similar, if not identical, stories.
So what am I going on about? Car seats, people, car seats. Specifically, rear-facing. See, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children remain rear-facing until age 2. The law, at least here, hasn't quite caught up with that recommendation and only requires that children remain rear-facing until age 1 and 20 lbs. I've seen a lot of people sharing this information lately, which is great. Get the word out! Safer kids!
See, though, this isn't a pro-rear-facing car seat post. Not exactly...
I am all for the recommendation. I believe that kids should be rear-facing as long as they can. I'm all for sharing the information and getting the word out about the new(ish) recommendations. Who wants to knowingly endanger their child's life more than they already have to by simply getting them in a car in the first place?
I am decidedly against shaming people and making them feel terrible about their (possibly quite difficult) decision to not follow the recommendation.
In all fairness, the great majority of friends and random internet strangers I've seen sharing this info have been perfectly civil about it. The few who haven't...well, they've been downright brutal toward those that choose to put their kids forward-facing before age 2, for whatever reason. Yes, there is ignorance out there and I know they think they're helping by pointing out the information, but getting angry at someone [that they don't even know] and telling them they are a terrible parent who is endangering their child's life? That is uncalled for. And extremely unlikely to change any minds or save any lives.
I wish I was making this up.
The particular example that prompted me to write this was a woman whose child screamed and screamed while rear-facing and they finally turned him around because the distraction and stress of having a constantly-screaming child in a car seat was making them feel unsafe driving. And you know what? I GET THAT. To everybody who shouted at her that they'd rather have an unhappy and/or uncomfortable child than a dead one - shame on you. You clearly don't know what it's like.
I could have been that mother. I fully intended to rear-face E as long as possible...until age 2 and beyond! But she had other plans. She hated rear-facing. HATED IT. She hated it with the passion of a million fiery suns. She would scream and scream whenever we went anywhere. We never did figure out what exactly she hated about it, though I think it may have had something to do with the sun. She would get in the car seat just fine, there was no struggle there. But once in the seat...screaming. And I'm not talking about regular ol' crying. I'm talking full-blown, screaming, omg-what-are-you-doing-to-that-child, getting-stared-at-by-the-neighbors, shrieking like she's being tortured. And here's the thing - when E gets worked up, she pukes. So, imagine driving anywhere while trying to keep your child (relatively) calm, only having no idea how to do that because you can't actually figure out why they're screaming their head off in the first place. Because if you can't keep them calm (and you can't) they're going to puke all over themselves, their car seat, possibly the car. We tried everything we could think of. I asked for suggestions from friends, our pediatrician, anyone I could. We tried to keep her distracted. We tried snacks, water, no snacks, no water. Sunhats and sunglasses to keep the sun out of her eyes. Singing. Books, activities, special "car toys" to play with. Bribery. Rewards. Treats. Whatever. Everything. I took to keeping paper towels and lots of tissues in the car. Extra clothes. It sucked. Taking her anywhere was torture for everybody involved. We stopped going anywhere that wasn't absolutely necessary. If we were lucky, she would scream herself to sleep before she puked all over. Of course, if she did puke, then she screamed even harder because OMG PUKE.
We did this for months. Finally, shortly before her 2nd birthday, I turned her car seat around so she was forward facing. It was like magic. A switch flipped. She didn't scream anymore! At all! We could go places again! I didn't have to worry about vomiting in the car!
Is she less safe now? Probably, yes. It was still worth it. The person shaming the other woman pooh-poohed her concerns about feeling less safe driving with a constantly screaming child. I completely understand. It was very easy to imagine getting into an accident because I was trying to deal with E's shenanigans.
The small chance that we were going to get into an accident where rear-facing vs. forward-facing would have made the difference for my child...versus the every single day screaming, vomiting, stress-inducing, distracted driving... Well, I weighed my options and you see which way I went. I understand not everybody would make the same decision. But I stand by it.
Over a year later, E is a great car traveler. She literally stopped screaming in the car the instant she was facing forward. Our car rides since then have all been fantastic. And H? He's about to be one year old in two weeks and he weighs a whopping 26 lbs. Legally, I could turn him around. Will I? Nope. He's perfectly happy to be rear-facing. He does not cause nearly the same amount of incredible stress and frustration in the car as E did at his age.
So, please. Before you judge, remember that you don't know everybody's story.
I admit I don't have a ton advice regarding saving money while traveling, since most travel, even the most basic, is generally out of our financial reach. (Also, traveling with a toddler? Not easy. It can be fun, for sure! But not easy.)
My one big tip for locals (and others?) is to check megabus.com for bus tickets. For my recent jaunt down to Boston (to catch a train to Connecticut) I paid a grand total of $13.50 for my round trip bus tickets when I would normally have spent $36! Same bus service, same everything - just a cheaper price! I must admit I was wary at first...would they treat me like a second-class citizen when I showed up with my megabus confirmation? Would they even let me on the bus? But I needn't have worried. It was just as easy and seamless as having purchased my tickets at the station, from the carrier.
The other recommendation I have is that if you have a baby, travel with them before they cost any money! Generally speaking, this means before they turn two. I took E on a train trip when she was 5 months old and it was great fun. She was still little enough to be highly portable but old enough to sit on her own and not fuss too much. (This will, of course, depend upon your particular baby's mobility and temperament...every baby is different!)
Good luck and have fun!
In theory, this post is about a sheep and wool festival and some sweaters. In reality, it's about those things and toddlers.
Last weekend at this time, I was in Rhinebeck, NY for a sheep and wool festival. Now, if you knit, you might know what a big deal this is. It seems like nearly everyone I know was there. I met so! many! knitters! People I'd known for years online, but had never met in person. It was awesome. And, oh yeah, there were sheep. And tons of wool. I'm not a spinner, though sometimes I pretend to be, so I focused on the already-spun wool and browsed the booths and booths of yarn. (Booths and booths. Holy crap, I don't think I've ever seen so much yarn in one place! And I didn't even get to see it all!) I managed to keep my purchases small(ish) and only came home with two skeins of yarn. I'm going to knit me some socks this winter!
We had a great time. Though I wouldn't recommend traveling 6 hours in a car with two toddlers on a regular basis. All in all, they were fairly well-behaved, but between trying to get them to sleep in the car, nap in the stroller, or to sleep in a room with other toddlers, it was...a challenge...to put it politely. Good times were had, but not relaxing times, if you know what I mean! Travel with the little ones can be fun, certainly, but stressful too.
We had some truly wonderful moments though. I took E on the merry-go-round for the very first time. And oh, how I wish I had photos of it! Alas, I was holding on to both her and the neighboring horse to keep us all from falling off. If you had been watching, you would have seen my little girl literally shaking with a combination of glee and terror. I've never seen her so excited! We did, however, confirm her fear of sheep. *sigh* Apparently alpacas are pretty terrifying too.
I knit both of us Rhinebeck sweaters, which sounds a bit more impressive than it really is. Mine I started nearly a year ago and E's began life in March of this year. But I did finish them both! Although I fully admit to sewing the buttons on in the car and finishing the last buttonhole mere minutes before arrival at the Rhinebeck house.
E's sweater was the Eyelet Yoke Baby Cardigan which I modified somehow to make toddler-sized but I can't remember for the life of me now what I did. (Whatever it was, I did it in the springtime. And forgot to write it down. Silly me!) I used Knit Picks Swish Worsted in cornmeal, which was left over from part of a baby blanket. Unfortunately, there wasn't enough to knit a whole sweater, so I had to order more! And now I have extra. Again. The pattern is super simple, even with fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants toddler mods. As you can see, it's a bit long on her - I was worried about it being too short, with her being such a tall kiddo and all, so I erred on the side of long. This way, she can wear it for a long time!
I love the eyelet details at the yoke and hems. They add just a touch of loveliness to an otherwise not-very-girly sweater.
My own sweater was the very popular Coraline. I knit it using my own hand dyed DK weight yarn in a 70% merino/30% silk blend. The only major modification was to make 3/4 length sleeves, for a couple of reasons. One, I was very afraid (needlessly, it turned out) that I was going to run out of yarn. And if I had, there was no just hopping to the store to buy more - I only had a certain number of skeins, and I didn't trust my ability to recreate the colors exactly! And the second reason was that I just generally prefer shorter sleeves. If my sweaters and tops are long-sleeved, you will almost always see me push them up. These sleeves hit just below my elbow, which is pretty much perfect for me.
The pattern has you knitting the bottom of the sweater then turning it over on itself and knitting it together before continuing up the length of the body. It makes for a wonderful turned hem, though I cursed at the time because all of sudden, you're knitting along and it's like you've only done half of what you've actually done! Not very satisfying. But it looks wonderful.
So now I'm missing my Rhinebeck friends but thoroughly enjoying some quiet time at home. And E and I both have gorgeous sweaters to wear! I admit - I've been wearing mine nearly every day since our return. And it's been glorious.
This past weekend, we headed up to Unity, Maine for our 3rd year at the Common Ground Country Fair. It was blissful. (Well, the rain drip-drip-dripping on my head Friday night when a bit of the tent leaked wasn't so blissful, nor was the way my back felt after sleeping on the hard ground and forgetting our pillows...but the rest of the weekend was wonderful!)
The first year we went, we had only been in Maine for a couple days and it was a bit of a climate shocker to go camping and wake up to frost in the morning! Then last year, I brought E, who was 5 months old at the time, and M was in Seattle. Luckily, my dear friends that we go with were extremely helpful. This year, M was back in the picture and E was old enough to enjoy stuff! Like playing in the big baskets of beans at the Fedco tent! (Turns out, she's afraid of when sheep baa. Which should bode well for our trip to a sheep and wool festival in a few weeks...)
One of my favorite parts is the main building where they display all the vegetables and beans. Call me crazy. I love seeing what other people are growing.
A few more photos from the fair...
Oh, summer. What have I been up to? Clearly not blogging... Mostly because I've been, well, living.
Started off the season with some gorgeous flowers...hyacinths! (Which, if you've been 'round these parts very long, you know are some of my very favorites.)
There were also (and will always be) some whoopie pies. Oh, the deliciousness. My favorites come from the bakery down the street - Borealis Breads. Yum.
There was some music-ing...
And somebody's very first beach trip...
(Well, the first one where she could actually appreciate it, anyway...) Followed by some more beach trips...
And some more... Love that sand!
There were a lot of hot lazy days spent playing with blocks and baby pools.
There was even some sewing! Here, the lovely E is stacking some rings in her beautiful new handmade dress!
And some more sewing... Love that dress pattern!
I gardened. Quite a bit actually. And I had every intention of blogging about my experience, but...well...maybe I'll get around to an end-of-season recap?
We had play dates!
And, of course, I just had to sew a party dress to go to some of those parties...
There was swinging and sliding...
I just had to sew another pair of shoes, before E outgrew the pattern...
There's been a lot of jam and jelly making and other preserving. Like whoa. A lot. Here, vanilla peach oolong. There's also been strawberry lime jam, blackberry jelly, maple strawberry smooch, strawberry lemonade concentrate, salsa verde and more on the agenda...
In addition to all that, I dyed yarn all summer for Picnic at the end of August. My first time vending as a yarnie! (I've done craft shows before, but not with the yarn...)
Finally, at the end of it all, when I was feeling a little stressed out by all that was happening, we went on vacation! A week at the lake, even if part of it is spent with no power or running water (thanks, Irene!) is a wondrous thing.
To top off the vacation, my dear father turned 60. Party! And he got to spend the day with his granddaughter. (Among others...) Possibly my favorite moment this summer.
So I may not have been blogging, or commenting on your blogs, or, honestly, even reading them most of the time, but I'm here. I've been checking in and catching up periodically but I feel like an ass commenting on months-old posts often, so I read, and move on. And live. It's been a good summer for us. I hope the same is true for you!
OK. For real this time - April love! This month I decided to highlight a few of my favorite places right near my workplace. Spots I can walk to from my office, grab some lunch or an early dinner or a few drinks after work, and walk back. I am lucky enough to work within walking distance of quite a few really great spots - one of the perks of working on the edge of a huge university campus. These five spots are literally all within view of one another. And there's more I'm not even going to touch on! I hope some of you are as lucky as I am to have such lovely places to sit and enjoy a relaxed lunch.
First up is one of my faves - El Chilito. It's the order-at-the-window little sibling of the bigger, fancier El Chile, which I also love and is just down the street. They both have similar styles of Mexican food - fresh and somewhat lighter fare than usual. I'm a sucker for guacamole and I also love thick, freshly made tortilla chips, which, at El Chilito, come in little paper bags stapled together at the top. The grease starts soaking through immediately, but eat those puppies up with some guac and you will not regret it! The salsa is dark and smoky with fire roasted tomatoes. Fish tacos are my favorite dish there, despite the fact that I was horrified by the idea when I first learned about them. If you're not familiar with the humble fish taco - they sound pretty horrifying! But trust me - it's like a little seafood party in your mouth. So, so delicious.
Just a few doors down lies the humble Mi Madre's - also (clearly) a Mexican joint. Mi Madre's is more traditionally Tex-Mex than El Chilito with some heavier, richer foods. I generally go for breakfast on a weekend and it's great fun to watch all the hungover hipsters chow down on steamy breakfast tacos. They've got a lovely little patio that's nice to relax on and munch some tortilla chips with salsa. The breakfast tacos are my favorite thing here - everything else looks delicious but also like it might send me into cardiac arrest with the amounts of meat and cheese and yummy, but unhealthy looking, sauces.
If you're looking for something more upscale and a whole lot healthier, try Eastside Cafe. The restaurant sits on an acre lot - 1/3 of which is a kitchen garden that supplies the Eastside Cafe kitchens with fresh veggies and herbs. Take a stroll through while you wait for a table and check out the lettuces and broccoli. The menu always includes tons of veggies and fresh ingredients and I've never had a disappointing meal there. The offerings include sandwiches, salads, appetizers like baked brie with apple chutney, enchiladas and various specials. Best reserved for an after-work dinner or a leisurely lunch.
Though I've only actually been once, I always want to stop by Red House Pizzeria after a hard day at work. With half-price pizza from 5-7PM, how can you go wrong? The white pizza is a delicious concoction of cheese, garlic and olive oil and the other choices on the menu looks equally tempting. Plus, the atmosphere is great - you can sit inside in a more traditional restaurant setting, or hang out outdoors under the trees in small groupings of chairs, tables and benches.
Lastly, Clementine Coffee Bar. If you're looking for a place to read for a bit and grab a light bite to eat and a cup of coffee, this place is right across the street from all the others. (Be aware - the parking lot is minuscule - your best bet is to park on the side street and walk around the corner.) I will admit that so far I've only had various coffee drinks, but they do have food...and some of it sounds delicious! Turkey cranberry panini anyone? (Spicy cranberry jelly, Havarti cheese, turkey, red onion, organic spring greens...yum.)
So next time you're in town and want to meet me for lunch or after work, we'll have to stop by one of these spots! Happy April everybody!