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Aug 29, 2016

Back to School - Give Your Big Kids A Boost!

Can you hear that? 

...Cash registers ringing with the sales of new lunch boxes, folders, and endless boxes of pencils?
...Parents desperately trying (and mostly failing) to get their children back into a bedtime routine?
...Children begging for just one more trip to the beach in a frantic attempt at fitting in more summer activities?

Ah, yes.  The sounds of another summer winding down.  

There's a lot to take care of, I know.  On top of the previously mentioned pencils, folders, and lunch boxes, there's a whole new schedule to work out: who will run the car pool this year?  Who will be in charge of drop off and pick up?  And who's going to pay the unsung heroes of our day - Latchkey workers?

One thing I've noticed during the school year hubbub is the lack of child restraints at drop off and pick up.  I can't help it, it's ingrained in me.  Firefighters assess fire risk everywhere they go,  I eagle-eye car seats.  It's a compulsion but hey, at least I'm honest?

In an effort to curb this potentially dangerous choice, I've decided to make a list of the most common mistakes that I and other CPSTs have spotted as well as solutions for the problems.  These are presented in no particular order.

  1.  Children under 13 in the front seat.

    This is something I see fairly often when I'm dropping my daughter off at school.  Elementary aged children should never ride in the front seat of any vehicle if it can be helped.  Air bags are designed to protect adult passengers in a crash.  They expel with an incredible amount of force, and the skeletal structure of a child under 13 just cannot withstand it.

    Q: So what about when all the back seats are filled?  What should I do if I run out of seats in the back for the children I have to transport?
    A: If you must put a child in the front seat, move the seat as far back as possible - away from the air bag.  Make sure the child is mature enough to know that they must sit still in the seat for the entire ride to school - no fidding with the belt or leaning forward to play with the radio dials. If you drive a pickup truck, sometimes you can disable the airbag using the vehicle's key.  Make sure to turn it back on for adult passengers, though!

  2.  Kids in the wrong seat for their maturity level.

    I get it.  It's a pain in the neck to have to buckle up a kid in a harness when you have the entire PTA membership staring you down for holding up the line.  But safety should always come first.  Always.  Booster seats are a very safe option for most kids, but all too often they're a step that's skipped completely.

    Q: How do I know when it's safe to switch my child to a booster seat?

    A: This is an answer that's going to be different for every child.  If you know they will sit still in the car and not mess with the shoulder belt (by moving it behind their arm, for instance), and you can see that the booster provides a good fit on the child, then it's safe for them to use a booster.  Using a booster for short trips is different than using one for long drives, however, so keep in mind that your child must remain upright the entire time for it to be safe.  Not so difficult for the 10 minute drive to school, but it can be a little trickier when driving across the state.  Most kids are not ready to be boostered full time until they are at least 6 years old.

    Hat tip: The Car Seat Lady


    Q: Why is booster fit so important?

    A: I'm glad you asked!  Booster fit is important because the seat belt can actually cause injuries if it doesn't fit the way it's supposed to: the lap belt must lay high across the tops of the child's thighs (at the hips), and the shoulder belt should stay between the curve of their shoulder and their neck.  If the lap belt is too low it can cause what's known as "submarining" - when the child's body slips underneath the belt in an impact.  If the lap belt is too high the sensitive internal organs are put at risk of trauma and bleeding.  Belt fit: it's really that important.

  3. Children not using boosters at all - or worse, unrestrained. 

    This is the worst for me to witness. I understand the reasons why caregivers forego boosters and yet I can't unknow what I know about crashes.  If you've heard it once you've heard it a hundred times: "It's just a quick trip!"
    Hat tip: The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
    85% of crashes occur within 20 minutes from home.
    Children who are in a booster seat in the back seat of a vehicle are 45% less likely to be injured in a crash than those riding with just a seat belt alone.

    Q: Alright, I'm sold.  But a booster seat is not in the budget right now, where can I get one?

    A: SafeKids is the recipient of generous grant funding from the government.  This organization can provide low-to-no cost booster and car seats for parents in need.  Check with your local coalition for more information.

    Please do not get a used restraint from someone you do not know and trust.  Without knowing the full history of a child restraint you just can't say for certain that it will do its job.

    Q: None of my child's peers are using boosters... how can I keep her safe while keeping her from being teased?

    A: Thankfully there are a few options for instances such as this!  The Bubblebum booster seat is a neat little thing that easily inflates to full size, making it a great option for carrying to and from carpool vehicles, trying to fit children three across in a back seat, and, yes - nobody can see it from the outside of the car.

    The Safety1st Incognito is a super stealthy option as well (hence its name).  You can get it in different colors to match the interior of your vehicle and its low-profile will provide discreet protection. (Please note that this seat has a weight minimum of 60lbs to use.)

    The MiFold is super nifty, but can be tricky for younger kids.  This would be best suited for older children who take direction well and can buckle themselves with no help from an adult.

    You could also go the complete opposite direction and instead of going stealthy, go LOUD and proud!  Let them choose a wild, bright print that they'll be proud to sit in.  Explain why the booster seat is necessary and involve them in the process of choosing a new one.  Bigger kids really want to feel as though they're heard and respected - who doesn't?  Allow them to be a part of the process and you may just find that they'll teach their friends - and maybe their friends parents - a thing or two about staying safe in the car

Aug 27, 2016

Coffee Milk Syrup Recipe

Coffee milk is, apparently, a Maryland drink that is well known, well loved, and has two store brands that people fight over. Being a Michigander and coffee lover I had to try this drink. So, I searched for this recipe, but since it was saved on an old laptop I can't find the original source. This is recreated from memory.  It's simple enough.

Double strength coffee (I normally use 1/4 a cup ground for 4 cups water. For double strength I use a half cup of grounds)

Equal parts brewed double strength coffee and white sugar (four cups coffee, four cups sugar. You can adjust this to your own liking but this is a dessert drink so I don't fiddle around)

Boil in pan for 5-15 minutes depending on the consistency of syrup your prefer

Allow syrup to cool and add your preferred amount to a cold glass of milk. Stir and enjoy! san martin

Metro Detroit Mommy Blogger:

Aug 26, 2016

Back to School Fun Facts

Fast Facts for Back to School

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Aug 25, 2016

Lake Orion Library Review

         Our family spent an afternoon last week at the Lake Orion  Public library & really enjoyed ourselves!

Lake Orion library is a good sized library with well-defined spaces. The youth section was colorful, easy to access, and had a wide variety of materials! The youth section had its own set of restrooms, a small play area, dedicated space for table games and activities, youth computers, and plentiful staff to assist young patrons. First off, we noticed the DVD selection was listed in alphabetical order with covers facing outward.  My kids appreciated how easy it was to flip through them to see titles they were looking for. Also, a large selection of picture books that were also shelved this way. What a novel way to make the titles appealing to the smallest of smallest patrons!

 Huge themed kit green bags were available for families, teachers, and students to check out. These were prominently displayed on a shelf.  There were table top games , such as chess and checkers, out that just begged to be played!

 A set of dedicated youth computers were in plain sight and open to kids games.  We interacted with a youth librarian and she was pleasant, helpful, and very patient. There was a play space for preschool/toddlers that had a collection of toys, a play kitchen , and board books all within reach of small children.

We attended a StarLab event that was in the Multi-purpose room, presented by Oakland County Park System and really enjoyed ourselves! The inflatable planetarium was very neat to experience. It was very informative and interesting to learn more about our night sky. For other Star Lab events see here.

 Lake Orion library had many activities for people of all ages. Please visit their even calendar to see upcoming activities, most area open to the public- though some require registration. Check activities online at Lake Orion Library Events.

We did not visit, but they did have a dedicated Teen Room for grades 6-12. Peeking in, you could see book shelves, magazines, and gaming systems geared toward this age of students.

A quick visit to the adult portion of the library led us to discover that you could check out board games! We saw plenty of  kids in the adult section, but everyone was  respectfully looking for what they were seeking or reading materials at one of the plentiful tables. It had spaces set aside for studying , but also many spots to just curl up with a book or two.

Much to our surprise, our local library card could be used at Lake Orion!Make sure to ask, if you ware not a resident of Lake Orion if your local area is a reciprocal library. All I had to do was show my drivers license, email,  and local library card.We were able to take home several books that could be returned at our local library with the understanding that transfer can take 5-7 days and the book is not 'checked-in' until it reached Lake Orion Library & we would be responsible for any fines we accrued.

Currently, they also have a special traveling exhibit called Exploring Human Origins. It is based on the Smithsonian National Museum of History exhibition. It is in the lobby of the library and explores what scientists know about human evolution. The display had lots of visual guides, diagrams, and pictures. Several iPad stations were available for further exploration of the ideas displayed. It would likely be appealing for ages 8+, but could be a conversation starter for all ages. This was one of my kids favorite activities and we spent a long time reading information and went home with some books to gather more information.  This exhibit is only available until August 22nd.

Overall, we spent almost 3 hours at the library! It was a pleasant afternoon and we plan on returning in the future for other Lake Orion library events.  Of note, currently Lapeer Road near the library is under construction and an alternative route is advised. For hours and other information, please visit Lake Orion Library website.

KCMichigan is a PreK teacher, mom to fraternal tween twin girls, and wife to a technology-loving husband. For fun she loves to read, explore new museums or parks, and go on day adventures with her family!

Epi-Pen: The Cost to Save a Life

Chances are, you’ve heard of the grossly inflated price of the Epi-Pen, a life-saving medical device carried by many who suffer from allergies.

Due to the efforts of a small but vocal army of “allergy moms,” the general public now knows what we’ve been upset about for years: Mylan, the company that manufactures Epi-Pens, has been raising the price to the point where many families struggle to pay for this medicine (1).

However, the question remains. Why did Mylan keep raising the prices (in 2009, the price was roughly $100; now, it is $600)? The CEO, Heather Bresch – a U.S. Senator’s daughter who makes $18 million a year – hasn’t given a clear answer. As a comparison, Epi-Pens cost about $100 a set in Canada, where the government regulates the cost. (2,3)

While I don’t know why a set of Epi-Pens costs so much, I do know this:  When my child was blue and limp, in the throes of an anaphylactic reaction to nuts, epinephrine saved his life.

Put bluntly, he needs access to an Epi-Pen every second of every day in case he comes in contact with his allergens (tree nuts, peanuts and sesame seeds). We don’t carry them, stock them in our home and provide them to his school “just in case.” We do so because he will die without immediate access to this life-saving medication.

For this, we pay hundreds of dollars a year –with health insurance. These pens, really the only “game in town” to deliver epinephrine to allergy patients, expire after a year or so, too. So this is something my family, and many other allergy families, has to budget for.

And most families have multiple sets: One to carry when out of the home, one for the home and one for school/daycare. That is hundreds or even thousands of dollars a year, depending on your insurance coverage, for a needed medicine to keep your child alive.

Maybe that seems excessive to a non-allergy family, but for those of us who have watched our children experience anaphylaxis, it is necessary. Seconds count, and you need an Epi-Pen readily available at all times. 

So why do I keep saying Epi-Pen? Isn’t there another option? The truth is, not really. Epi-Pen’s major competitor, the Auvi-Q, was recalled last year and is no longer manufactured. That has left only one real alternative that few people know about and have used. This alternative, which some insurance companies won’t even cover, also isn’t readily stocked by pharmacies and isn’t listed in my son’s school paperwork. The nurses and staff at his school aren’t trained to use it. So to us, it isn’t a viable alternative – at least not for now.

Today, Mylan announced it would help subsidize the cost of the Epi-Pen via a rebate, due to rising scrutiny and public outcry. But they didn’t lower the cost of the Epi-Pen and a rebate is only good for some families. (2)

Maybe you know someone with a life-threatening allergy who needs an Epi-Pen. Maybe you don’t. Either way, price gouging by a major pharmaceutical company raking in millions of dollars on the backs of people who just want to keep their children safe is abhorrent.

For many of us allergy families, we’ve already paid far too much for our Epi-Pens because school has or will start soon and we have needed to get this life-saving medication and all the reams of paperwork ready for teachers and administrators who are tasked with keeping our children safe. 

We couldn’t wait – so we paid. Or we couldn’t pay, so we pray.


Metro Detroit Mommy Blogger:

Aug 24, 2016

Easy Dinner Idea: Unsloppy Joes

A big thank you goes out to my son who made this awesome dinner for us on family night a while back.  If you like sloppy joe, but not the mess, try out this simple recipe.

Metro Detroit Mommy Blogger:

Meet Melody Ellison the Newest American Girl and Where You Can Get her Book for Free!

The American Girl Doll family is getting bigger this week with the addition of Melody Ellison, a young girl living in 1964. Like many of their BeForever historic doll collection, Melody has her own book series, accessories that work for her time period as well several outfits. The BeForever dolls allow young girls and boys to experience a part of the past through the eyes of a girl close to their age. But Melody is even more special in our area - she's from Detroit!

Melody made her official Debut last night at the Charles H. Wright Museum downtown Detroit with speakers, live music and an official donation made to the Detroit Public Library from American Girl. The event welcomed local media, doll collectors and the youngest American Girl fans. The debut included a look at Melody and her accessories, fun crafts for children and even the opportunity to purchase Melody before she's official on store shelves. The dolls were flying off the displays in the museum gift shop, and they wont last long if you want to get one early. 

The release of Melody Ellison is huge for the brand, but also for the Detroit community. Melody's story focuses on the music scene that was (and still is) popular in Detroit, the racial tensions that happened with the riots as well as helping teaching acceptance - which is needed even today. The doll and her story took years to create and the story is one that every child should read. 

You can get your child their own Melody Ellison doll starting on Thursday August 25th when she's available for the public. But there may still be a few available at the Charles H. Wright museum! She will be available for purchase online and in store - including the Novi Pop Up American Girl Store location later this week. Don't wait to get your piece of Detroit history. 

To give back to the Detroit community, American Girl annoucned a partnership with the Detroit Public Library System at the event. As part of its partnership, American Girl is providing a donation valued at $175,000 to support the children’s sections at the Detroit Public Library’s 22 branches, which includes a $50,000 monetary donation and a product donation of Melody dolls and books ($125K retail value). Through the book donation, the Detroit Public Library will be able to provide a free Melody book to any area child who wants one through the end of 2016.

To learn more about American Girl or request a free catalogue, call 1-800-845-0005 or visit,, or

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