Sunday, August 31, 2008
Saturday, August 30, 2008
But before the fun we really need to talk safety....according to the CDC in 2005 over 3500 people died of unintentional drownings. Of those one in four are children under the age of 14. In 2005 of all children between the ages of 1 and 4 that died 30% were from drowning. Rates have slowly been dropping, but drowning still is the second leading cause of unintentional injury-related death in children under the age of 14. OK, if that didn't scare you enough...read on at the CDC's webpage Seriously pools and water can be really fun, but they can also be very dangerous, so we as parents who do everything from even before birth to protect our tiny loved ones from prenatal vitamins, washing all those new clothes, sheets, stocking their room with hypoallergenic everything, and then once they are here washing our hands, making baby food, buying organic, using monitors just need to be educated like we were with What to Expect When...or whatever book was your choosing....about water safety.
- Never leave your children alone in or near the pool, even for a moment. An adult who knows CPR should actively supervise children at all times.
- Practice touch supervision with children younger than 5 years. This means that the adult is within an arm's length of the child at all times.
- You must put up a fence to separate your house from the pool. Most young children who drown in pools wander out of the house and fall into the pool. Install a fence at least 4 feet high around all 4 sides of the pool. This fence will completely separate the pool from the house and play area of the yard. Use gates that self-close and self-latch, with latches higher than your children's reach.
- Keep rescue equipment (such as a shepherd's hook or life preserver) and a telephone by the pool.
- Do not use air-filled "swimming aids" as a substitute for approved life vests.
Remove all toys from the pool after use so children aren't tempted to reach for them.
- After the children are done swimming, secure the pool so they can't get back into it.
A note regarding bullet #1 and CPR training. Living in NorCal where we just finished several triple digit days there are many of us that have pools and small children. So last year I organized a CPR course here at my home for several families. I did an on-line search or you can easily contact your local Red Cross chapter to get course information. We hired an instructor who's fee was per pupil and we also hired a babysitter for all the kids. It was definitely a morning well-spent. We got 6 local families, ~12 parents, all with pools at their home and all with children under the age of 8 CPR certified. We all agreed even though it was a gigantic pain to coordinate all of our schedules...it was so worth it.
Regarding bullet #3...if you build your own pool or even use a pool company you/they will be required to go through inspections with your county planning commission. One of the things they will review is your fence height as well as gates. They will check the swing time on your gate to ensure it is closing in a quick fashion. These do loosen up over time and tend to swig slower so ensure your builder or installer shows you how to tighten them back.
You can find even more info regarding pool safety at the American Red Cross & ABC Pool Safety or a multitude of other sites of your choosing. I am not really sure why I felt I needed to spout or relay all this info before writing the fun piece (which I promise will follow shortly)....I guess as my husband would say...."it's the Mom in you."
Saturday, August 23, 2008
So I was out recently at a local learning/toy shop and came across a placemat that was a map of the United States. I knew he would be thrilled to be able to share his geography love with the kids, but it turned out it was me who got the ball rolling. See in order to get our nearly 4yr old daughter to eat her peas my husband does pea math...you know...5 peas take away (eating them) 2 leaves 3 peas. Well, I decided one night to do something similar, but with the placemat. And to make it fun we would focus on the States where we were planning to or have traveled to recently or have friends who we have or will travel with us shortly. This way it is something relevant and fun. In less than two weeks we have 13 states down with ease. Even the other night she did it with broccoli spears.
The placemat is from a company called Painless Learning Placemats. I found it at a locally, but see you can also order them on their website.
For your older children another fun thing a friend of ours in Michigan does with his boys is loads their travel destinations into Google Earth. This allows them to better see topography, relationships, and routes traveled. His boys love it.
Happy Learning!...and maybe getting some nutrition to "go" too.
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
The trip destination was the Kenwood region of Sonoma Valley. Our campsite this year was to be Spring Lake Regional Park on the east side of Santa Rosa and less than 15minutes from some of our wine tasting venues.
We headed out of town on Friday at about 2PM. It took us about 2.5hrs. We opted to go up through Napa, Glen Ellen, etc to avoid the 101's Friday after work traffic. We got a little turned around in Santa Rosa getting to the campground. Definitely print the directions to the campground as there are two entrances to this park. There is a day use only on the exact opposite side of the park from a day-use/campground entrance. And there is no way to get around the lake, via car, that is from one to the other. You also get a little leery as to if you are on the right path as getting there you actually go through quite a bit of residential. But by 5PM we were cranking up our pop-ups trailers and the kids were off exploring. The staff was great at the entrance and we learned it was full for the weekend and learned it generally is. So you definitely want to reserve in advance.
We stayed in sites #18 & #19 trying to follow my rules on being on the outside of any loops, but close to the bathrooms. These were pretty perfect sites...a few trees and definitely more privacy than others. I would say the only small downsides were a mountain bike trail came right up through #19, but most folks saw us and created a new trail between #18 & #19...and we should have done some rock moving. The kids tripped over them quite often, but they definitely enjoyed bouldering as well.
Night one was pasta and salad. The pasta was pre-cooked al dente and then all it took was a little heating up with the sauce, some cut-up bread, bag-o-salad, and brownies and cookies for dessert. We got firewood for $8 a bag from the office after 7:30PM and had a nice one that evening. And the kids cracked open their first bunch of glow sticks...a must have for camping that can be picked up at any dollar store.
Morning one was cold breakfasts of yogurt, fruit, banana and carrot breads...ok, and some coffee for the adults. Then we were on our way. Our first stop was Matanzas Creek Winery. Just outside the tasting room we set the kids up with crayons, coloring books, juice boxes, snacks, etc and half the adults headed in to start grabbing tastes. The staff was wonderful...letting us wander in and out checking on the kids and even coming out to meet them. The kids got antsy after a bit and enjoyed some water features, their lavender fields, and exploring the picnic area. We adults enjoyed their '02 Chardonnay, '07 Sauvignon Blanc, '05 Syrah, '07 Rose, and Dessert. Next we moved on to Family Wineries Tasting Room. We were really hoping with such a grouping of small wineries we might find a gem, but the only gem was really their picnic area outback which had a child-sized table as well and we had it to ourselves. There was a huge lawn for the kids to play hide and seek and red light-green light, but other than our token Viognier buy for lunch we left empty-handed. Wanting to get the kids back for naps and swims we opted for one more stop at Chateau St Jean. Definitely the busiest, but also the least kid-friendly of the bunch. My youngest was asleep in the car with Daddy napping as well, so we took the older ones up and let them play with a digital camera taking pictures of complete strangers while we took turns tasting. The tasting room to me just represented a huge "you break it, you buy it" sign and the staff was definitely over-stretched in their ability to attend to us. They were friendly when they did get to us, but that lack of customer service and timely attention left us walking away with no purchases.
Dinner that evening was burritos for the adults with the meat and rice already cooked and just needing reheated, black beans, salsas, lettuce, and tomatoes, chips, and salad. For the kids it was quessadillas done in a frying pan in the pop-up on the gas stove. And of course for dessert we had the ever popular samores....and more glow sticks.
Friday, August 15, 2008
- Canvas: Basically the cover for your nirvana. Ensure there are no rips or mildew. A new cover can run $750 on up.
- Zippers: Again replacement, unless you are a seamstress, can be challenging and costly. Climb in and zip and unzip every window and covering
- Embellishments: Buttons on cushion, draperies, etc.. Easily replaced, but still something to check out.
- Flooring: Most flooring is a linoleum and could be replaced, but check in out for stains (leaks from appliances or equipment), cuts, etc..
- Electrical: Check everything functions off the plug-in, off the battery, and off the tow vehicle (notably brakes and brake/turn lights). Granted some things may be simply blown bulbs, but be weary of non-operational turn/brake lights. Labor at lot of of RV servicers if you are not a DIY person can run $150/hour and up.
- Water: Put some water in the tank and check all line for leaks as well as appliances...sink and outdoor shower (if applicable)
- Gas: Again check for leaks as well as functionality of stove, water heater, and any other appliance that run off this
- Open and Close Every Little Door: There are so many small storage spots under cushions, drawers, etc where there could be damage hiding.
- Put'er Up and Take'er Down: Do not be afraid to ask to put her up and take her down to ensure everything is sliding and moving the way it should.
And lastly...if you are going to a look-see/showing you think may turn good and it is not a dealer then ask them about their brake/lighting unit and what configuration it is. Our trailer is a 7 way...our SUV is a 4 way. Meaning our SUV supported all the lights, but not the brakes and the plugs that connect the two vehicles look nothing alike. So we drove it home...very carefully...and very slowly in the light with no functioning light system on the trailer. Then were required to go to a RV dealer/service and purchase an adapter, ~$50, to make the two vehicles work together.
So we are still working out all of our kinks, but are super excited about our new little home on wheels. With one weekend in it under our belts I already understand why my friends have theirs and why my jealousy was warranted. Just the lack of unpacking and knowing it is down there ready to go with the simple loading of a bag of clothes and a cooler of food...well it has caused two more unplanned for trips to go on the books this summer/fall. It makes taking the child on the go...camping....a lot easier on the parents who do the preparations and clean-up after. I will admit this purchase was more about me than the kids. But in the end it will allow them to experience many more camping destinations...and the tents are downstairs, but not forgotten and will be used.
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
This last weekend we did one night away within a half hour from home on the south fork of the American River to fine tune for camping 2 nights away and 2+ hours away from home this upcoming weekend. As of right now we are tent campers and with a nearly 4 and nearly 2 year old we needed to really hone the sleeping arrangements.
First off we knew we would separate them having a parent sleep with each one. The 4 year old we guessed was pretty good to go after sleeping in her own sleeping bag last season. But the nearly 2 year old was in a pack-n-play last season...and he, as mentioned before, being off the charts in length no longer fits. So our first option was to put him on his sister's Ready Bed. Which btw these are awesome for trips away from home or children visitors from out of town. But we learned quite quickly he is still too much of an active mover at night and kept falling off and getting wedged between his and my bed. So in the end the best situation seemed to be letting him with a couple of blankets for padding sleep directly on the tent floor. So the plan for the upcoming weekend is to take a Thermarest and let him again sleep nearly directly on the floor with a small cushion of air between him and it.