What would you do?

Texas carseat law, summarized, requires kids in carseats until they are eight years old. The law changed recently, but even last year, the cut-off age was five.

I was sitting in the carpool line today and the parent ahead of us (us being myself and the two little ones) had a two year old (I’m guessing here, but about that size) jumping all over the car – front seat, back seat, front seat, back seat, mom’s lap, smacking the driving wheel, rear view mirror…..

Our elementary school is located on a busy main road, it’s not in a neighborhood. And this baby had been leaping around while mom was on the main road, not just while in the car rider line. So I was thinking that not only it is against the letter of the law for the baby to have free reign of the car’s interior but it really is dangerous – even a fender bender could cause a major head injury or other serious bodily damage to a child that small. I prefer not to think about what could happen if the car was hit at full speed.

So I thought about it.

And I thought about it.

And I said, screw this, I’m calling the cops. If that baby is ever hurt, I’ll have it on my head.

So I did. I was routed through several departments (“no this is not an emergency,” “yes, I’ll hold,” “yes, please transfer me.”) and finally got to the right one, being dispatch for the county constable. Shoot, or was it the Sheriff? Whatever.

They said they would send a car out immediately but I told them I’m not sure that would do any good – car rider line only lasts 10 minutes at the most. I had the description of the car and the full plate number and I asked if there was some mechanism to send a letter or other notification to the family as a reminder to comply with carseat laws. I didn’t want mom locked away or even fined, just told to use (or obtain) a carseat for the baby by someone of authority that she’d be likely to listen to.

I still felt petty for calling.

They called me back as I was emptying the kids and groceries out of the mommyvan and the carseatless Camry was long gone.

No – they don’t have the staff to send a letter or call them. No, there is no program that can deal with that. No, there is not enough funding for that. But they’d drive out to the school where the car left ten minutes before and survey the scene.


Some states have a carseat hotline, I have heard. The parent receives a letter informing them of the carseat laws and letting them know that they need to comply. It really is a simple thing and probably saves lives – certainly money (even state money in the form of uninsured ER visits for those children who are uninsured or underinsured).

I wonder what it would take to implement a program like that here?

What would you have done? Thought “ugh” and then ignored the situation like I admit I’ve done so many times. Considered calling and then decided it was too much trouble? Or would you have narked on them too?

Kindergarten Report

The following is what Mr. 5yo reported to me on the way home from Kindergarten:

“Today we had College Day and I am going to college to be a MOUNTAIN CLIMBER!”

“They sent [Tommy] out of the class and he has to go to the Naughty Boy Class every day now to learn to keep his hands to himself and I hope it works because he’s really naughty and one day the police might come to take him to JAIL he’s so naughty.”

“They serve JUNK FOOD at lunch and those kids are not going to grow. I’m glad I bring my lunch so I can eat my vegetables.”

“I’m the goodest boy in kindergarten EVERY day.”

“Guess what? I didn’t wipe my mouth or nose on my shirt even once!”

“Mommy Mommy Mommy – Mrs. Simmons has a wife and his name is Mr. Simmons and it’s his BIRTHDAY today!”

I’m not so sure everything we learned everything we needed to know in kindergarten after all, but it’s a start.

Kindergarten Registration

We registered today – The five year old and I drove over to the school. All three kids are sick, so he was a bit dopey from the Benedryl and kept asking where the teacher was. He is really interested in meeting his teacher, especially since we went earlier this week to meet the four year old’s pre-K teacher.

He liked the cafeteria-style tables they had set up in the gymnasium and spied some art supplies in a corner which impressed him a lot. He asked me if he couldn’t just start school today, please?

I had to take in paperwork galore – proof of residence, social security card, certified birth certificate and a thousand (give or take) forms I had printed from their website. I normally am missing something of vital importance on these occasions, but miraculously, I had everything together. Of this, I am unduly proud.

When we were done, the school lady told us there was a “meet the teacher” night on the 18th next week, so he could meet his teacher before school.

Wait? What? Doesn’t school start on Monday, the 17th?



All this time I’ve been planning for both kids to begin school on the 17th and looking forward to it with glee. Well, maybe not glee. Alright, yes – pure unadulterated glee!

Fine. The 24th it is, then. Mr. PreK will start on the 17th and Mr. Kindy on the 24th. I have a feeling Mr. Kindy isn’t going to be very happy with that, but what are you going to do?

I was lucky enough to land two very well behaved kids (in public anyway), so they usually impress their teachers, which makes me proud. I’m so glad both kids are looking forward to school; I know they will do well and love (almost) every minute. We all will.

Back to School Activities

The boys start kindergarten and Pre-K in one week. I’m counting down anxiously, rubbing my hands together in well, maybe not exactly glee. OK, glee – I admit it. Not that I’m not happy to have them at home, I am, but given a summer of 100-degree temps and more recently everyone coming down with summer colds leaves us housebound and somewhat irritable.

The bottom line is that we are ALL ready for school to begin.

In celebration of school starting, here are some cute activities to get them ready for school:

~ Back to School Word Searches from DLTK.

~ Back to School themed coloring pages from Preschool Coloring Book. This is my favorite bus.

~ The Magic School Bus website from Scholastic.

~ Back to school crafts from Family Fun.

~ Lots of back to school ideas from Kaboose.

Ok, this isn’t school themed, but these game templates from Microsoft look really cool, especially for the older child.

Feel free to add any links you’ve found.

Simple Ways to Greener School Lunches

I like to buy juice boxes now and then for convenience, but on a regular basis, I try to avoid them. One juice box isn’t much in the grand scheme of things, but one juice box per day multiplied by ten months of school (180 days, on average) is quite a pile of non-recyclable trash. Multiplied by the 24 kids in your child’s class is over 4300 empty juice boxes in our landfills per class. Add in the wrappers from individually wrapped snacks, yogurt cups, plastic Lunchable containers, plastic baggies, and so on and you’ve got a massive pile to contend with. If we could reduce that number by even half, that’s a huge improvement.

So, what’s a busy mom to do?

In lieu of plastic baggies and individually packed snacks such as crackers, cookies, fruit, applesauce, yogurt, and so on, I’d suggest going and buying some reusable containers that are also marked as recyclable, should they break. I like these twisty-lidded ones from Zip-Loc (Target makes a generic version) – you can put liquids in them and they don’t leak. Plus, they are easier for a small child to open than the standard pop-top lids. More importantly, they are easier for the small child to put the lid back on, should he or she not finish whatever is in it, so you are less likely to end up with a lunch box full of wet stickiness.

Instead of juice boxes or disposable juice or water bottles, invest in a couple of BPA-free reusable ones.
You can freeze them 1/3 full of water at night and then fill with juice or water so they will be cool for lunch. I’ve even frozen them with milk inside – by lunch, the milk has thawed, but is still nice and chilly.

And what about those granola bars, and other wrapped snacks? You know, it’s not important to me to produce absolutely no garbage. I do buy much less of that type of thing than I used to, but if my child has a wrapped fruit leather bar in with his reusable containers occasionally, I’m not going to lose sleep over it.

That said, if you can buy the product out of the wrapper, then I’d suggest you do so, but sometimes, there is no wrapper-free alternative. One solution, however, is to remove the item from the item, recycle the wrapper at home, and just slip it in one of the reusable lunch containers, next to Junior’s sandwich.
One added bonus to going green is that it saves money. Woohoo! After the initial purchases of reusable items, it’s vastly cheaper to fill your drink bottles with filtered tap water, milk from a gallon jug, or juice from a 64oz container than it is to buy little individual drinks. Similarly, you get so many more snacks for your money – the giant bottle of applesauce, the 32oz container of yogurt, and the huge bag of pretzels contain many more servings than the individual sized versions. If you have more than one child, then multiply those savings and it really adds up.

Another plus is that it’s a fantastic lesson to teach your children – the earth is ours to take care of and this is how we do our part. We talk about being kind to our planet, but this is a good way to show them how we accomplish that goal – something tangible. It’s a simple lesson, but an important one, regardless of your politics.

If you have any product recommendations or other ideas, please feel free to comment below.

P.S. Here’s some great school lunch ideas from Family Fun.

Their Valentines

I made little goody bags last week for their classes. Instead of candy, because lord knows they’ll get far too much of that, there are temporary tattoos (similar to those above), stickers, a little heart glitter (you are welcome – no need to thank me, moms!), a real fruit leather bar, and thanks to a HUGE number of $2 off Kashi coupons I got in the mail, a Kashi strawberry fruit bar.

The kids are making valentine’s “cards” to put inside them right now. Their job is to color and maybe cut them out.

While it’s not the fanciest design ever, it’s going to have to do – we’ve been thrown off kilter by the whole broken arm/stomach bug saga this week. And besides, they’re kinda cute. I printed the following in black and white into a table, six to a page, on landscape:

You’re a Winner
in My Book!

Filename: j0240439.wmf Keywords: 1st place, awards, blue ribbons ... File Size: 23 KB

Happy Valentine’s Day!
From ________

On Darwinism

Texas board moves closer to new science standards

AUSTIN, Texas — The State Board of Education moved a step closer to dropping a 20-year-old science curriculum requirement that critics say is used to undermine the theory of evolution.

After two days of heated debate, the board made a key vote Friday in favor of dropping a mandate that teachers address both “strengths and weaknesses” of scientific theory.

A panel of science teachers had recommended that the language be dropped, suggesting instead that students be required to analyze and evaluate scientific explanations.

The new standards the board ultimately approves — a final vote on the curriculum proposal is not expected until March — will be in place for the next decade. They also will dictate how publishers handle the topic of evolution in textbooks.

Critics of the “weaknesses” language argue that watering down the teaching standards of origin of man is an attempt to promote creationism in public schools.

Federal courts have ruled against forcing the teaching of creationism and intelligent design.

Critics of the proposal to drop the mandate blame “left-wing ideology” for trying to stifle free speech.

A narrower requirement, adopted in an unexpected amendment Thursday, would require high school biology students to address the “sufficiency or insufficiency” of common ancestry to explain certain aspects of evolutionary theory.

I was just reading an in-depth article on Darwin in Smithsonian Magazine while I had the current issue of the Houston Chronicle on my lap with the above-quoted article on the front page. Apparently Texas is somewhat behind in the scientific world (no surprise, really), but we are getting there, if slowly.

The article on Darwin, if you have a chance to read, it is absolutely fascinating from a purely historical perspective, at the very least, but it also delves into the more recent discoveries that Darwin (along with Mendel, also discussed) planted the seed for with his theories.

Born in 1809, Charles Darwin was born in England to a well-off family of social progressives who were active in supporting the anti-slavery movement. A new book suggests that this background helped influence his scientific interest in the subject of evolution – his hypothesis being that the various human races were not fundamentally separate, a notion that many would do well to remember even now. For more, look for Darwin’s Sacred Cause: How a Hatred of Slavery Shaped Darwin’s Views on Human Evolution by Adrian Desmond.

Also in the news this week: what you feed your toddler can change his or her genes! Eek!

A new study by the University of Calgary, suggests that a high fat diet can actually affect a child’s genes and influence later obesity, by permanently changing how those genes react to certain diets. You can read more here. I wonder, what would Darwin think about that?

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