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The Dangerous Mistakes Moms Make While Driving

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013

A great many moms are sailing down streets and highways when we’re desperately sleep deprived, distracted and futzing with our phones (a habit that’s twice as dangerous as drunk driving). All the while, the lights of our lives—our babies!—are in the backseat (often in a carseat that’s installed wrong). And it’s happening all the time—moms log an average of 150 miles a week.

These are just a few of the alarming habits revealed in a study of more than 2,000 mothers with children under age 2 that American Baby conducted with Safe Kids Worldwide, an organization aimed at preventing childhood injuries. In fact, nearly 10 percent of new moms have been in a crash while driving with their baby. That’s almost three times higher than the rate among the general population, and rivals the crash rate of teens. One of several possible culprits: 64 percent of moms turn around in their seat to tend to their child instead of looking at the road ahead. For more eye-openers, check out this infographic.

Driving Safety Infographic

To post the infographic above on your own blog or website, cut and paste this code:

<a href="http://bit.ly/SCei8x" target="_blank"><img src="http://images.meredith.com/parents/images/blogs/Infographic.png" alt="Infographic from Parents.com" /></a>

I’ve been guilty of careless driving myself. When my firstborn, Julian, was nine months old, I missed a stop sign while heading to Costco. I was newly transplanted in the suburbs, rusty at driving after a decade in the city, and beyond delirious. I realized my mistake and screeched to a halt a few feet later, causing another car to rear-end us. No one was hurt—massive sigh of relief—but the accident shook me. I signed up for refresher driving lessons and vowed to be more aware on the road, especially while chaffeuring my most precious passenger.

It’s time to STOP, think and hit reverse on these risky habits. This year, let’s all resolve to be more mindful and focused each time we leave our driveway. We owe it to the little people strapped in behind us, and to every other driver on the road.

To learn more about slip-ups moms make behind the wheel, and simple ways to protect your family when you head out, read the feature about our exclusive survey in the January issue of American Baby, and watch our video below on the driving rules every mom should follow. The keys to a safer year are in your hand.

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Loving the Black & Decker Toy Leaf Blower

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012

It’s fall in the ‘burbs—the comforting smell of fireplace fires wafting down the street, Saturday afternoons swallowed by soccer…and the sound of leaf-blowers whirring in my neighbors’ yards 24/7. Can you guess which of these three seasonal mainstays most captivates my 5-year-old, gizmo-loving son? Yep, the leaf blowers. Hearing the familiar roar of motors again reminded Julian of the Let’s Play Black & Decker leaf blower we’d given his friend Teddy for his birthday last year—and he began hounding me for one of his own.

I typically belong to the new-toys-are-for-Christmas-and-your-birthday camp, but when he volunteered, for the first time, to pay for the tool with his own moola, I caved. Julian painstakingly counted out $20 of the $23 of Grandma-money in his bedroom. I braced myself for eventual tears, figuring he’d get tired of the toy in an hour and want his, er, money back. Wrongo! He gets a major kick out of faux blowing our backyard. If it this thing had a real motor, our lawn would be immaculate.

I asked my resident landscaper what’s so amazing about his new toy:

So, Jules, what do you like about the leaf blower? It looks so cool I want to marry it. It makes noise and has a blade inside with all these beads, and when you turn it on, all the beads inside spin.

Was it worth the money? I don’t know, but I’ve still got a whole bunch of money, so nothing to worry about.

You missed a spot. Even if it doesn’t have air to blow, I still like it because it looks like a leaf blower and it makes a cool noise. Real gardeners blow leaves with a backpack on their back, though, so I should wear one of those, too.

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“Don’t Divorce Me,” a Movie That Explains Separation to Kids

Tuesday, September 18th, 2012

It’s a very lucky family tree these days that doesn’t have a least one of its branches spliced by a split-up. We have several divorces in our extended family, and now that our ever-curious kids are old enough to notice (4 and 5), I’ve had to explain several times why certain grandparents are unattached and other relatives are out of the picture all-together. Tricky stuff. So when I got an invite for a screening of HBO Family’s documentary, “Don’t Divorce Me,” which touchingly follows several preschoolers and elementary schoolers as they cope with their parents’ split, I RSVPed yes. You’ll blink back tears, but also come away with real-life ways to help your kids cope in the wake of an event that truly does rock their little world. My favorite tip (from a tween who hadn’t cut her hair since before her folks called it quits): Let your children hold onto their memories. “Don’t Divorce Me” airs Thursday September 21 at 6:30 p.m., and might be the most well-spent 30 minutes of your day.

Click here to watch the trailer.

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My Stint As A Bahama Mama

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

You know how a typical vacation glow tends to vanish as soon as you dump all the dirty laundry from the trip on your basement floor and begin sorting it? Or maybe that’s just me. But not this time! It’s been two weeks since my five-year-old son, Julian and I headed to Grand Bahama Island, courtesy of the kind folks at the Grand Lucayan, and we’re still feeling chill. Julian has declared that he won’t remove his orange resort wristband (“until I’m an old man and die”—yipes!) and I’m still smiling thinking of all the happy little moments over our three-day trip that I hope I never forget.

Julian’s beach experience so far had been limited to summers at the Jersey Shore, so with all due respect for Snooki, he was totally blown away when I pointed to that backdrop of blue beyond our resort and told him it was the ocean. “What? Are you kidding me?” he yelled. I’ve seen my share of islandy-beaches, but the view made me as giddy as my little guy. As soon as we unpacked in our spacious, marina-view room (one of 519 at this huge yet totally low-key haven) we quickly switched into a slow-as-honey pace that was such a departure from the daycare-work-home-bath-dinner-bed routine of our usual weekdays that the whole getaway now feels kind of like a dream. After dinner at Irie’s Restaurant, where I had a yummy mahi mahi stuffed with crabmeat and Julian split the lobster-topped pasta with one of two little boys on the trip who were nearly his age (two vacay playmates? jackpot!), we returned to our room to find giant chocolate chip cookies and milk had been delivered with the turndown service. Sweet! This place clearly knows kids (and carb-loving moms!).

The next morning, we experienced one of the highlights of our trip: the Unexso Dolphin Experience. We dangled our feet in a lagoon while two incredibly charming bottlenose dolphins performed like Broadway stars with fins for us. Julian laughed his head off every time they flipped or dove, yet when it was our turn to enter the water and pet the adorable Andros, my guy simply shook his head. Not happening. After the encore though, as we headed off the dock, he spotted a macaw, ran to it, and even dared allow his little arms to be used as a perch (see the pic?). Then he looked at me and said, “Do you want to live here? Because I’m serious, I want to move here.” Me too.

The next day, more water fun. We had a picnic on Gold Rock Beach, a little slice of paradise where Pirates of the Carribbean was filmed. Mother nature seems to have made this place for kids. You can walk into the aquamarine sea for the length of a football field and still the water only comes up to a tot’s waist. Exquisite. But the water at Grand Lucayan was pretty amazing too—four pools, including two infinity pools. Julian loved sitting on a chaise lounge in our favorite of the bunch (yes, a lounger in the pool—how fantastic is that?).

We didn’t want to leave. No, that is a massive understatement. There were big, fat tears and hysterics involved. Our last night, after an outrageous Asian pupu (queue the laughter from three little boys) platter feast at China Beach, we finished packing up. Which is when a crying Julian proceeded to try to hide the boogie board we couldn’t fit in his suitcase under the bed, “so I can find it when we come back with Daddy and Celeste!”

I kind of wanted to cry, too—it was just so special to have a few unhurried days together. Time to float in beautiful waters and meet sea critters, yes. But also time to answer my son’s 42-questions-an-hour (like, “Hey, why did those people put their dishes on the floor in this hallway? That’s not nice!” “That’s called room service, Julian” and “What is this cereal? It’s so good! Is it Cheerios with colors in them?” “They’re Froot Loops, my friend, and they’re only for special occasions!” “What’s occasions?”) without being distracted by the concerns/smartphones/chaos of our inland life. And I hope we return, because the Grand Lucayan’s kids’ club, anchored by an open-air classroom and boasting an area for babies called Grandma Lucaya’s, opens after renovations in a couple months and looks fantastic. But in the meantime, I need your help: How will I ever get this kid back to the Jersey Shore?!

Grand Lucayan, Rates in season start at $259; off-season start at $159.

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