Some state have been re-thinking their child safety seat laws and changing them to include older kids. Here’s what you need to know…

Every state requires infants to ride in car seats. Now some states have changed their laws and require older children to be in car seats. California, for instance, just recently made a change that now requires children to ride in a safety or booster seat until they are least six years old or weigh at least 60 pounds.

Still, many states only require children weighing 40 pounds or less to ride in a car seat. The problem is that seatbelts don’t fit most 40-pound children correctly. And with more children killed as passengers in car crashes than from any other injury, you can see why it’s important to have your child properly restrained. This requires choosing the right car seat and using it properly.
How do you select the right seat? What’s the best car seat out there?

Well, there’s no such thing as the “best” car seat for everyone. The best seat is the one that fits your child right and can be installed properly in your car. Prices fluctuate, and higher prices do not necessarily mean a car seat is better or safer to use.

For toddlers and older children, you can choose from convertible seats, combination seats, travel vests, built-in car seats, and booster seats.

Convertible Car Seats are bigger and heavier than infant seats. Though you can use this while your child is an infant, they can also be turned facing forward for toddlers. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends this for toddlers who are at least a year old and weighing 20 – 40 lbs. Many convertible seats have two or more buckle positions and adjust as your child grows.

Combination Seats are always used front-facing and recommended for children at least 1 year of age who weigh at least 20 lbs. These seats come with an internal harness system. When removed, it converts to a belt-positioning booster. The booster position is best suited for children over 40 lbs.

Booster Seats come in two types: 1) belt-positioning which uses the car’s lap-shoulder belts and 2) shield boosters. Manufacturers do not certify shield boosters for use by children who weigh more than 40 lbs. For these children, the shield may be removed and the booster can be used with the car’s lap-shoulder belt.

Travel Vests are another option if your car has only lap belts. Your car may also be equipped with built-in car seats. These should be used for children over one year of age and weighing at least 20 lbs. Make sure to check the weight and height limits, as they vary.

It’s not enough to just select the right car seat for your child, you’ve got to install and use it properly. Here are some tips to help you:

• Always use a car seat and teach your children the good habit of “buckling up.”

• Read instructions carefully and make sure the seat is installed properly.

• If your car has a passenger side airbag, never place a child in a rear-facing car seat in the front seat. Most modern cars come with airbags, so it’s best to keep your child in the back seat.

• Keep the harness or buckle snug and make sure the clip or buckle is in place. The straps should lay flat.

When is my child ready for a regular seat belt?

You should keep your child in a safety seat as long as possible. However, when your child is big enough, he/she can wear a regular seat belt as long as it fits properly. The shoulder belt should lie across the chest and be snug across the thighs. Your child should be able to sit against the seat back with feet hanging down when legs are bent at the knees.

Individual state laws differ as to when a child is considered big enough to use a regular seat belt. Check with your local department of motor vehicles office to find out about your state’s rules concerning child passenger safety.

The food-reward business crept into dog training several years ago and now appears to have taken a stronger following.

In my honest opinion, dog owners are being conned into thinking that it is a very nice, gentle way of training a dog without compulsion. Sure, many dogs will do anything for a piece of food if they are hungry, and some always are! But they are not doing it out of respect for their owner. They are just doing it to get the food. This poses many problems. I grieve for dog owners who come to me, show me their problems and tell me that they have been somewhere else where they were taught to train with food.

My simple answer to their problem is, “Please don’t worry. Forget all you’ve been taught before. Let’s start again. With all the exercises, we will show the dog what to do, praise him when he responds, encourage him when he is unsure or lacks willingness and correct him when and where necessary. Everything will be all right, and you will win the respect and affection of the dog, who will then be willing to work with you.” That is the basis of good dog training.

‘ou have seen how enjoyable dog training can be for both you and your dog. The exercises you have learned, particularly the heel-work and the come command, will give you a super start. You might like to leave it there, and if you do, that is quite all right. On the other hand, you might like to learn more. If you do, why not join an obedience dog training class? You will, in time, learn how to do many more exercises, and later you might like to enter your dog into obedience competitions.

When you have taught your dog the basic obedience exercises, why not teach him a few tricks? You’ll find that it is great fun, as will your dog, and people watching will get a great thrill.

When your dog has learned to sit for his meal and to stay until told that he can eat, you can train him to shake hands. You could either say, “Give me your paw!” or, “Shake hands!” Then lift his front paw up and gently shake it a couple of times. Praise him and then say, “Now the other paw!” and take his other paw in your other hand and give that a couple of gentle shakes, too. By doing this every time you get your dog to sit for his meals, he will soon learn to shake hands, so well in fact that you won’t have to lift his paw up. He will lift it up himself every time you say, “Give me your paw!” You will also find that he will give you the paw that is nearest to your hand. Then ask for the other paw by putting your other hand to the opposite side. Later, the dog will give you his paw at any time of the day; then you can make it one of his little tricks by getting him to shake hands with other people.

If your dog likes carrying something in his mouth or likes running after something and bringing it back to you, then encourage him to do so. Treat it as a great game. If your dog doesn’t like doing it, don’t worry. There are plenty of other enjoyable things you can do together, and I shall talk about those when we train the dog to do tricks. Blue buffalo dog food coupons are always handy for this.  Teaching the retrieve exercise to a dog who isn’t a natural retriever can be very difficult for you and requires much patience. So that exercise is best left for adults to teach the dog.

However, let’s imagine your dog likes going after the article you have thrown, but when he picks up the object, he doesn’t want to come back to you again! You could be disappointed, but don’t worry. Put your dog on a leash, throw the article just a few yards in front of you and say “Fetch!” As the dog goes out to fetch, go with him on the full length- of the leash. As soon as the dog picks up the item, praise him joyfully and call him to you just like you did when you were teaching him to come. When you have gotten the dog to sit in front of you, take hold of the article, say “Give!” and as soon as the dog opens his mouth, praise him-”Good dog!”

Recently, on FB, I read some inspirational little ditty about “being the sum of one’s experiences” and me, being the kind of gal who hates optimistic musings, I blocked that FB friend because, really, I’m more of a glass is half empty and filled with cyanide sort of person and I hate it when people rain on that parade. Except now I can’t stop imagining myself as some amalgamation of my own decision-making. And from what I remember – there are a lot of hazy moments – it’s mostly poor decision-making. I guess not in a selling-my-body-for-crack-rock sort of way, so there is that, but it’s still questionable:

– There was my gang member boyfriend in high school. And while, yes, I know, teenagers shouldn’t even be allowed to choose breakfast cereal due to their crazed hormonal states, I’m not sure that breaking up with your first boyfriend because he’s doin’ 2-5 in the clink is really the same as letting some jock, playboy get to 3rd base.

– Then there was the clothing-optional, vegetarian co-operative (read: drug fueled hippie commune) I lived at in college. Certainly fun, but probably not the best for my G.P.A., although I was getting 2 art degrees so, really, it’s not as if the extracurricular activities interfered with all of the studying I had to do. Perhaps, though, if I had put down the peace pipe, I would’ve realized that I was most definitely NOT cut out to be a struggling artist. I’m a neurotic, overly-sensitive, germaphobe, who’s most certainly not cut out to live in the trenches, existing solely on the belief that art can change the world.

– And recently, I got rid of cable. It’s true. I thought I’d get more done. I’d finish my Pulitzer-prize winning novel. I’d become a yogi master and a meditation expert. I’d finally read Ulysses all the way through…and get it. The simple stuff, really. But it has quickly become apparent that all is not as it should be. Instead of mornings watching NY1 I now rely on podcasts and the hope that my 3 year old’s mouth will be so full of bagel he won’t be able to make a sound for 3 minutes.

Alas, most morning info sessions now go a little like this:

“Today in Pakistan, officials…” “…need chocolate cake? Because I like chocolate. It is my favorite.” “It has been confirmed that Gabrielle Giffords has been released with…” “…10 dinosaurs. They eat meat. Except for the brachiosaurus he eats plants. I don’t like green stuff so I must be a T-Rex.” “President Obama has…” “…colored on my table. It was an accident. And I colored on my shirt. That was an accident too.”

Also, I realized that without cable my confidence in both myself and my mothering has fallen dramatically. Unable to compare any daily activities to those of Snooki, a RHNJ, or some family desperate for the guidance of Supernanny, I’ve lost my way. How am I supposed to congratulate myself for making it through an entire day without throwing a table across the room or vomiting all over some policeman’s shoes?

At least there is the comfort of knowing there are some things I properly resisted:

mc hammer time tattoo 300x245 Decisions, Decisions….

Totally a picture of my back side.

It’s hard to believe that it’s been almost three months since we left Brooklyn.  While we miss our friends, the restaurants, the coffee shops and the bars (even though we haven’t set foot in one in years), I’m pleased to report that there’s much to like about living in the suburbs.  We eat dinner outside more than inside (and sometimes even breakfast!).  We have so many windows that we haven’t had to turn on any air conditioners, if I get annoyed with June I can demand that she “go play upstairs.”  However, there are some basics to living out here that have taken me awhile to grasp.  For instance. . . .

shopping cart ad hoc mom Suburban Living 101: Or, Has Anyone Seen My Car?

Maybe trading in our car for a shopping cart car would solve all of my problems?

  • When you park your car in a huge parking lot, like at Target or Home Depot, it seems you’re supposed to make a mental note of where you left it.  I forget to do this EVERY TIME.  Every time!  Like a total idiot, I am always walking out of Target with bags of stuff I don’t need, a cranky toddler, and a puzzled look on my face because I have NO idea where my car is.
  • Speaking of stuff I don’t need.  Let’s talk about Target briefly.  The second you put something in your cart, whether it be an $8.00 Merona t-shirt or an economy size box of goldfish crackers you have just committed to spending at least $120.00 at that store.  It is IMPOSSIBLE to spend less than $120.00 at Target.  Try it.  Seriously.  I challenge you to spend a penny less.
  • Okay, shopping carts.  Why is it they barely move in the actual store. . . they are all squeaky and difficult to push, yet the second you get the stupid cart out to your car and dare look away from it for two seconds while opening the trunk the damn thing is flying down the parking lot at about 50 mph toward like a major highway or a Mercedes?  Seriously, I am always sure to remove my child from the cart, like, immediately upon reaching the car (as soon as I find it that is).

I’m sure there’s more stuff I’m screwing up – and I have much more to learn.  We’re off to the store, so please wish us luck.

I wrote a post very much like this last summer.  But I can’t help but think that June has changed so much that this one will turn out differently.  My mom and step dad arrived last Saturday.  Since it’s their first time seeing our new house we were very exited for their visit – June especially.  She was proud to show off her new room and the backyard.  Peter and I were just happy they could sleep in their own space (i.e. not on the sofa bed or at the overpriced yet semi-sketchy “b & b” that oddly did NOT serve breakfast that was a few blocks away from our old apartment), have drinks with us in the backyard, and basically not have to take a number to have a shower.  We thought we’d basically show them around town, make a few dinners and generally hang out.  But it’s easy to forget how fast a toddler changes until you see it through the eyes of your own parents.  We don’t get to see our families as much as we’d like, so nearly a year can go by before they see June again.  She couldn’t list off the animals she wanted to see at the zoo quite so clearly a year ago.  Nor was she so specific about the proper cutting and serving of pizza, waffles, and grilled cheese.  She didn’t make elaborate “projects” with glue, scissors and string last summer.  I can’t remember how high she could count then either. . . if at all.  She also HATED sunscreen, and now happily applies “sunscream” several times a day.  Seriously, she’ll happily do your back.  My mom and step dad even got to witness her first sleep over, as a good friend of mine went into labor yesterday and we had her son over night.  They played, ate dinner, took a bath together, watched tv in their jammies and giggled until bedtime.  It was a happy night.  Until my parents were here, I don’t think I realized all of these changes were happening.  I mean, duh, yeah I did – but it’s not everyday you realize your kid learning to navigate the apple tv is a milestone.  I’m sad my parents are leaving. . . mainly because I’ll miss them (and yes, it’s SO much easier having family nearby), but also because it means my girl is growing up so fast.

grandma 2008 Summer With The Grandparents Circa 2011

This grandmother and baby were ready for fun back in 2008.  2011 has been nothing but margaritas, pay per view and visits to the Jersey Shore!

As readers may have noticed in the past few weeks, we at ad hoc MOM have taken a break from routine. For me, the break  hasn’t just been from the blog–it’s been from all of my life’s regularly occurring activities. The month of May has been a crazy one for my family–a kid-less trip to Montreal, my husband’s 40th birthday, lots of family visits, our 7th anniversary, Mother’s Day and soon, our youngest son’s first birthday.

The kids have also been keeping us busier than usual: our oldest is no longer taking a nap (horror!!!) and our youngest is transforming into a thrill-seeking toddler. Their entertainment requirements have spiked, resulting in awkward adult/child dance parties, messy craft projects, lego skyscrapers to nowhere and an unsettling parental policy of appeasement doled out via chocolate milk, cookies, and new trucks. It turns out, we do negotiate with terrorists in our house.

With all of the craziness, I have found myself deviating from my normal day-to-day activities: regular blog posts, freelance assignments, coming into the office space, playdates, cleaning, dinner preparing, showering, keeping up with friends and making sure the house has enough baby soap, baby carrots, bananas, juice boxes, wine, garbage bags, toilet paper and laundry detergent to get through the week. After several weeks of unscheduled chaos,  I find myself feeling adrift, and perhaps (despite the festivities galore), a little sad. I realize that without a routine, I am without sanity.

no routine with leash Mom Without Routine: Brain Without Leash

A routine’s best gift comes in the morning when you wake up and can start the day without any existential panic about your life’s meaning. With a routine in place, you can go about your business on auto-pilot–completing tasks and getting stuff done. In the absence of routine, my mind goes to dark places and my body goes to…Ikea. Lowe’s. Home Depot. The Container Store.

Yes, that’s right. Apparently, when the kids aren’t around and I am avoiding productive work like the plague, my eyes dart about my house looking for projects that will take all day and yield minimal life-improving results. To wit: this past Friday. As soon as the babysitter left with both kids, my brain was besieged by a jumble of home improvement “ideas” courtesy of a mind doped up on HGTV and too much coffee:

Put all of the kids’ artwork in frames, rotate them on a weekly basis, just like Genevieve Gorder said to do on Dear Genevieve. Can’t afford a big piece of artwork? Frame lots of little things in discount frames spray-painted the same color just like that weirdo stubby guy told me to do on Design on a Dime. In the event that I have to sell my house (which we have zero plans of doing in the next 10 years), I better damn well get rid of all that clutter in the basement just like Lisa LaPorta would have me do on Designed to Sell. If my block was featured on Curb Appeal the Block, I’ll be damned if my house is picked by John Gidding and his lackeys for a makeover! I gotta get to the nursery and buy some window boxes STAT!

Take a breath,” the rational part of my brain whispers. “Where are the &*$% are the car keys, Ikea is opening in 15 minutes and all the good parking spots are going to be taken, so you better MOVE IT MOVE IT MOVE IT sister,” the panicked part of my brain screeches.

Thanks to the abandonment of my routines, here’s what I have to show from last week:

1. A net gain of 3 pounds (from eating all of leftover birthday cupcakes.)
2. Three vases of rotting flowers from birthday/mother’s day extravaganzas.
3. My three year old’s favorite new game is called “Iron Man”, since he was allowed to watch anything he could point to on Apple TV. Iron Man Game (™) consists of him getting into an aggressive fighting stance, scrunching up his face in a threatening manner and yelling “Iron Man!” and attacking anyone who comes near him.
4. Six cans of spray paint in Lowe’s bag, placed on kitchen table.
5. Six discount store picture frames shoddily spray painted all different colors, stacked up akimbo in dining room, posing a great threat to anyone who brushes by them.
6. Weird, unpleasant artwork in Ikea purchased frames (which, of course, are already falling apart.)
7. Unwanted baby Gear lined up in front of the house that’s so busted up, nobody will take it. The rain-streaked Free! sign tempts not a soul. The front of my house looks like a garbage dump.
8. Dying window boxes.
9.20 minutes of billed time
10. Zero blog posts.

Sometimes, we all need a break in routine to re-calibrate our brains. But I think it’s important for me to remember how too much of a break from routine is a dangerous place for me to go. So while I am not promising you the world, I submit to you this jumbled up, rambling blog post as my white flag. Deliver me from the chaos of an unorganized day and into the safe arms of an office, a blog and some billable hours. Thanks for waiting.

I love Mother’s Day.  Any holiday that involves me being left alone in bed with coffee is all right by me.  But like many holidays – say Valentine’s Day or New Year’s Eve, Mother’s Day came wrapped in some pretty big expectations at first.  Naturally this led to some minor – okay major, disappointments.

Mother’s Day #1

me mothers day I Think I Finally Figured Out Mother’s Day

I look fairly normal, but I assure you I was anything but.

June was only a couple of months old, so Peter is too tired make any real effort and I’m too tired to care.  Nevertheless, there is a little thing called INTERNET SHOPPING.  Peter gets the cute idea to take the baby to a local vintage store to “select” my gift.  Since our child is 8 weeks old, this actually involves dipping our baby into a pile of bracelets and jiggling her around until something snags onto her hand.  It’s much like something you’d see at a dirty carnival – or maybe Chuck E. Cheese.  What catches is a hideous orange bracelet from the Avon catalog circa 1980.  I’m presented with the gift along with a much appreciated pain au chocolate from my favorite bakery.  I’m equally charmed and horrified.  We move on with our day and don’t speak of it again.

Mother’s Day # 2

Based on last year’s carnival games it’s clear to me that I have to be specific with the gift thing (even though I know motherhood is a gift in itself!  Hahahahahhaha!!!)  It was a tough year.  I decide I want the following:

  • Pancakes
  • Bacon
  • Coffee
  • Orange juice
  • 3 magazines
  • a black Longchamp shoulder bag

The bag is easy peasy.  Hello!  Internet shopping!  Breakfast not so much.  My husband is a perfectionist.  This means that in addition to the above he aims to include a cloth napkin folded in the shape of my favorite flower, a rose in a vase (naturally hidden in the back of some god forsaken cabinet), and he sweetly decides to serve said breakfast in our wedding china which is covered in dust because it hasn’t been used since the week after we returned from our honeymoon.  These extra steps result in complications.  Bacon burns, fire alarm goes off, baby freaks out.  Need I say more? However, the bag is great.  I still use it almost every day!

Mother’s Day #3

We are on vacation.  Family is asleep.  I go down to hotel buffet and procure my own Mickey Mouse Belgian waffle and a giant coffee.  I cannot wait for these people to get up and get my coffee!  Have I mentioned I’m in god damn Disney?  However, husband buys perfect gift.  Progress indeed!


Mother’s Day 2011?  I’d have to give it an A+!

Peter does ask me what I want (we’re kind of over surprising each other with gifts) and I tell him.  I wake up, and there are chocolate croissants!  And they’re warm!  There is a pretty big difference this year, namely that we’re not crammed into a tiny apartment.  And we have a yard.  It’s nice out, and I sit outside with my family, and as awful as this sounds it’s easier to like the people you live with when you’re not standing on top of each other all the time.  Don’t misunderstand me.  I always love them.  But when Peter offered to take June away to the playground for awhile so I could be alone, I didn’t want him to.  I was happy just watching him cut our grass with our new lawn mower – and watching our daughter get filthy in our dirt.  We have dirt!  And as much as I loved my new crocs (the cute ones that look like real shoes), and my sun hat – I was thinking that freshly cut grass, a husband with a lawn mower and a dirty kid were the best mother’s day presents a girl could get


On Saturday morning, the family and I set out to attend an outdoor activity. We were excited for this one–it was called Touch-a-Truck.  For $5.00, kids were allowed to climb aboard firetrucks, cement mixers, cherry pickers, garbage trucks and all types of cars. For my son, this was, essentially like Beatlemania. It turns out (shocker!) there were only about 7,500 other kids with the same fantasy. It was a madhouse. The scene: long lines with a soundtrack of horns operated by three year olds and tormented screams by kids who waited in the backs of lines that stretched 30-minutes long.

As I stood shoulder-to-shoulder, diaper bag-to-diaper bag with the other parents from my neighborhood, I was greeted by a gruesome sight: hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of other moms and dads who…looked…exactly…like us. I felt like I was in a  mirror-filled funhouse, running into slightly distorted versions of myself with the same mom uniform. Big Sunglasses, Ponytails. Big Sunglasses, Ponytails. Big Sunglasses, Ponytails. It was creepy. And unnatural. And identity-crisis inducing.

sunglasses and ponytails My Standard Issue Mommy form and How I Tried To Change It

That afternoon, I left the house for my usual weekend solo jaunt into the city. I was spooked by seeing one million me’s at the Touch-A-Truck. When I got off the train, I was in a trance. I wandered into my favorite stores and started trying on all sorts of freaky stuff–trying to break out of my mom mold.

I tried on not one, but two strapless jumpsuits. Heart-shaped sunglasses. Neon checkered vans. Cropped leather jackets. Lace vintage blazers. Tiger-patterned parachute pants. I was all over the map, and it wasn’t pretty. I was desperately trying to shed my Mommy-form. And what was I trading it in for? An outfit that made me look like an aging crystal meth addict from 1984?

What..had..I…become? I succumbed to the wave of my existential crisis. There was no original thought. There is no free will. We are rats in a maze. Ghosts in the machine. Spirits in a material world? (Wait–why have The Police invaded my brain? Has all this Eighties fashion driven me into the arms of Sting???)

I hadn’t felt this way since, well, 1986 when I went to a Howard Jones concert in what I thought was a unique outfit with an oversized fedora perched on the very back of my head. I arrived, greeted by the sight of 2,000 other 14 year olds wearing the same hat.

So maybe this wasn’t so bad! If it had happened to me when I was 14 and if it’s happening now when I’m 38, maybe things haven’t changed so much at all? Maybe I’m going with the flow. Maybe I’m tapping into the zeitgeist. Maybe I’m exactly where I should be?

But maybe a pair of heart-shaped sunglasses would help me see myself and others with a little more love in my heart? A little flair didn’t do any harm, now did it?