Wednesday, December 23, 2015

2015. Let's move on.

I started the year with such high hopes. We were coming off a rough 2014 full of Jeff's health crises and adjusting to being a family of four instead of three. I resolved to lose the baby weight and get down to my wedding weight of 180 lbs, become a certified child passenger safety technician and be less of an asshole.

The year started with the announcement that my employer had sold the business to a larger cosmetics company and we were all unemployed. As the sole source of income in our household, this was BAD NEWS. I had intended to look for alternative employment this year, because I wasn't happy with a lot of things there but I intended to do it on my own time, so that I could get a job before I needed one. Thankfully, they offered us severance packages that paid full salary for three months. After apply and interviewing for any chemist position available, I was finally hired at a new company and life started to settle back down.

Now that we had (actually affordable) health insurance again, I went in for my yearly well woman exam. My midwife noticed that I had nodules on my thyroid and sent me for ultrasound. Of course, the ultrasound came back suspicious for cancer and I had to have a biopsy. Thankfully, the biopsy came back negative. I also finally decided to see a rheumatologist about my constant hand pain. After some blood work, he diagnosed me with psoriatic arthritis, an auto immune disease that attacks the ligaments and tendons and causes joint pain. He started me on Otezla, which hasn't had much of an effect for me and I'm still dealing with a lot of pain that keeps me from doing a lot of the things I love, like crafting. At least I know what's wrong now instead of being brushed aside again.

The kids are great though. Makayla's a genius and reading chapter books on her own now. We still struggle with her stubbornness and hard headedness (don't know where she got that from) but she's a pretty good kid. Liam is in to everything and running everywhere. He has about 30 real words now but he never stops babbling in between. He's got a lot to say- we're just not always sure what it is. He's a good sleeper :)

Jeff's *nearly* done with school. Happy days ahead.

We lost Jeff's stepdad this October after a long battle with cancer. He was a good man and is missed.

As far as my goals for the year:

I am now a certified CPST. I've been volunteering around the community at seat check events and offering help to anyone and everyone. I gave a presentation at Makayla's school and helped a couple families keep their babies safer. It's been hard for me to "turn it off" and not help people who don't want help. I just want to save all the babies (and not so babies) and it's hard for me to accept when people make less safe choices. But I'm working on it.

I did not reach my weight loss goal- but I made damn good progress. My pregnancy high was 256 lbs. I made it down to 192 lbs this year. 12 lbs shy of my goal, but I call 64 lbs lost a good effort.

Me, now

After Liam was born, but before I started losing weight

Because people always ask, here's how I lost the weight. I started by keeping a honest and complete food diary. Once I took an honest look at EVERYTHING that I ate in a day, I realized how much more I was eating than I needed. It's easy to forget that things like coffee creamer add a lot to your overall calorie consumption. I used My Fitness Pal to keep track of my food. It's easy to use, has a huge database and give you the opportunity to add in your own recipes. I used it to calculate how many calories I need to lose two pounds a week. It gave me an initial calorie goal of about 1600 calories a day. So I started eating less. And I kept track. I didn't have any dietary restrictions. If I wanted oreos and it fit into my calorie goal, I had an oreo. Every ten lbs or so that I lost, my fitness pal would reduce the amount of calories I got. Eventually, I gained a good understanding of the approximate calorie count of most of the things I ate and I didn't need to be as strict at documenting it. In August, we also joined the YMCA and I started swimming 1200m at least once, usually twice, a week. That's the entirety of my weight loss. Eat less, move more and keep track. I am pretty proud of myself and I'm not ashamed to say it.
As far as my third goal "Be less of an asshole", I don't know about this one. It's not a very good objective. It's not a SMART (specific, measureable, achievable, realistic, time-bound) objective. I feel like, yes, I haven't intentionally antagonized anyone and I've kept a lot of my feelings to myself. We decided to intentionally limit our involvement in the parent club at Makayla's school. We still participate in events put on by her school, but not the ones through the extra parent club because I don't play nicely with others. My sister and I aren't currently speaking because of a lot of reasons. But we can't have a conversation without it ending in a fight. I don't believe this is my fault entirely, but it does take two to fight. This situation has added a huge amount of stress to my life.
So here's hoping that 2016 will be boring, mundane, peaceful and we'll find a trunk of gold in our backyard while digging post holes for the fence.
A girl can dream.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

All About Boosters!

In May, I completed one of my New Year's resolutions and crossed over from Child Passenger Safety Advocate to Child Passenger Safety Technician. I completed the course through Safe Kids Worldwide in hopes of being able to provide seat checks and education for other parents in my community. So far, I've only been able to participate in one seat check event but I am hopeful to do many more! Meanwhile, I thought I'd write about a topic that I see brought up frequently online- "How do I know if my child is ready to ride without a booster?"

Legally, there are many different answers to this question. State laws vary widely. Here in Ohio, our law says that children MUST use a seat until they are 8 years old or 57" tall. Unfortunately, laws do not always follow best practice of what will keep your child the safest in an accident. Seat belts are designed to fit fully grown adults, not children. The purpose of a booster seat is to make the adult seat belt fit the child's body and position the belt across the strongest bones. Here is my 6.75 year old in her Graco Affix in my 2006 VW Beetle. She is 47" tall and 46 lbs.

This booster seat gives her optimal belt fit. You can see that the belt is low and nearly flat on her thighs and the shoulder belt goes across the center of her shoulder. This booster seat is called a High Back Booster because it has a back with a shoulder belt guide. The Graco Affix can also be used in No Back Booster mode by removing the back.

She has the same great lap belt fit in this mode but the shoulder belt lies too far on the edge of her shoulder. With this belt fit, she is at a greater risk of "roll out" in a crash, where the top half of her body could rotate and roll over the belt, allowing her to bend too far forward. Another common problem with no back boosters is when children fall asleep in them and are unable to maintain an upright position. The high back can help keep kids upright and in position. 

There is a third option for booster seats. Combination seats start out with a harness and then, when they have been outgrown in harness mode, you take the harness out and use them as a booster. This is the Britax Frontier 85 in booster mode in our 2009 VW Jetta.

Combination seats can save you money in the long run because you can avoid buying a harnessed seat and then a dedicated booster later. They work just the same as a high back booster (some also become no back boosters as well). 

Now that you know what an ideal belt fit looks like, I'd like to show you what a bad belt fit looks like. 

This is Makayla, back in my Beetle with no booster seat. You can see how high the belt is on her abdomen. Children do not have the same bone density that adults do and their hips have not fully formed until puberty. When a belt is high on the abdomen like this, the belt will rip through the abdomen, crushing all of the organs against the spinal column. This can be fatal. You can also see that the belt is high up against her neck. This positioning makes it less likely that she will keep it in front of her body because it is irritating. Children tend to move irritating belts under their arm or behind their backs which can lead to a fatal injury known as seat belt syndrome when a body bisects in half in a crash because the upper body is not restrained. This is why lap only belts are not safe for anyone to ride in. 

To ride safely without a booster a child needs to pass the "5 Step Test":
  1. Lap belt fits low on the hips, not the abdomen
  2. Shoulder belt lays flat on the shoulder
  3. Butt all the way back and back flat against the seat back
  4. Knees bent at or beyond the edge of the seat, feet flat on the floor
  5. Child is mature enough to stay in position the entire trip, even when sleeping
Take a minute today and check your child's belt fit. If you have any questions please leave a comment or send me a message!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Winter Rants

It's winter and I have been reminded of all of my pet peeves about winter so I decided to write about it. You'll probably be offended by at least one of them but that's OK, no one is forcing you to read this.

Breaking NEWS! Winter is cold! Winter has snow! Further updates at 11! For reals, if you can't tolerate the cold where you live, move. If you can't move, wear more clothes. A coworker came to work this morning in ballet flats with no socks and was complaining that her feet were cold. It's -2F outside. Wear some goddamn appropriate footwear for fuck's sake. As a grown ass adult, you have the ability to dress yourself. If you fail to wear appropriate amounts of clothing shut your mouth. I don't want to hear it.

I do not want to hear about how "You're not worried about yourself, you're worried about everyone else". It's a stupid argument to begin with but then when you tell me how "you just ignore everyone else and drive 20 on the highway because SNOW! (dusting)" it becomes painfully apparent that it IS YOU. YOU are the bad driver. Learn to drive in snow. Go to an abandoned, unplowed parking lot and put yourself into a slide and learn how to get out of it. It is prudent to drive cautiously when there is inclement weather but if you don't feel safe going anywhere near the speed of the rest of traffic get off the fucking road.

Can we please get some kind of realistic guidelines for when school should be open and when it shouldn't? I really hate the "Well X school closed so we should close" mentality. What is true for one school system may not be at all true for others. For example, when one district closes because they have a high percentage of kids who walk to school and they don't think that it's safe for walkers it's not relevant to a school where all of the kids are dropped off by their parents. If the roads are unsafe for driving, close the school. If the extreme cold causes pipes to burst or the heater is broken then sure, close the school. Closing just because someone else closed is stupid and annoying.

I hate driving down the road and getting blasted by hunks of ice and snow because the asshole in front of me was too fucking lazy to brush the snow off their car. Scratching a hole in the ice on your windshield is not safe. Don't half-ass your life.

I'm sure there are more things I hate but this is what's hot on my mind right now. Mostly, just don't be an idiot.