Thursday, December 16, 2010

Crib Safety

The Consumer Products Safety Commission yesterday decided that cribs will no longer be allowed to have a drop-side. The story caught my eye because, although we are done having babies, we still have a crib in the house, and dealing with it has been inching higher and higher on my to-do list lately.

The crib that both of our kids slept in is assembled as a toddler bed in Trystan's room. He occasionally sleeps in it, mostly at naptime. The lucky kiddo has inherited a queen-sized bed with pillow-top mattress. I don't blame him for preferring that to the little one.  But the crib and matching changing table are still set up in his room because our house has generous sized rooms but no storage (our one small basement storage room is overflowing with stuff already).

Part of the reason I haven't sold or given away our crib yet is because the sliders on the moving side of the crib broke. Not while the kids were in it.  The drop-side comes off to transform the thing into a toddler bed. The sliders were made of plastic, and they broke after the bed side sat in a closet for a year.The CPSC complains, in part, that newer drop-side cribs are not made well and thus are dangerous. We were probably not the most gentle with ours once it was disassembled (and it was on kid #2), but if the plastic sliders can break the way ours did, then I believe the claims about quality.

I did use that drop-side feature extensively when my kids were sleeping in the crib. I am only 5'4", and with the rail up and the mattress in its lowest position (the only safe place setting once babies learn to stand up in the crib), I was not able to reach over the crib to the baby. If manufacturers won't be able to sell cribs with that feature, then they're going to have to chop about six inches off the height of the crib legs so that parents can get to their kids.

I had been meaning for a few weeks to call the manufacturer and try to get replacement hardware for our old crib in preparation for a garage sale (or at least a donation). But the new rule prohibits even re-selling used cribs with drop sides, and I doubt the crib company is going to be willing to send me new slider hardware. I guess I now have a nice looking toddler bed with matching extra-deep shelving set to get rid of.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Generation Gap

The other day Charlotte noticed a book icon on our house phone and asked why there was a story on it. I laughed and said it was the built-in phonebook, and then realized that she had no idea what a phonebook was.

We have not kept paper phone books in our house for probably ten years or more. Every time someone drops one on our doorstep, we either give it away or recycle it. The internet has long been a much more reliable and faster way to look up numbers.

So I had to explain that a phonebook was a book with names and phone numbers. Charlotte looked puzzled for a moment and then comprehension dawned. Her school publishes a printed phone directory every year. She knew what the "buzz book" was. 

Our kids have never known a time when TV shows were limited by a fixed time schedule. They have never known a phone with a cord. They have never seen a copy of the Yellow Pages in the house. They would have no idea what photo film is, or understand why they can't see a picture two seconds after it is taken. They have talked via Skype to my grandmother in Nebraska. Even the family fridge calendar is being obsoleted this year by the magic of Google online and on my husband's and my phones. School permission slips are sent in pdf format by email. My sisters and I collaborate on gifts with the help of PayPal and online shopping.

We are still missing the flying cars, but life is starting to feel more like the Jetsons every day.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Signs from the Universe

Sometimes you just get a Sign from the Universe.

Like when you dream about your unborn child and she introduces herself and informs you of her name (my daughter did that. I hadn't ever considered the name Charlotte before that dream).

Or when the college you liked best, the one that felt like home the minute you stepped onto the campus, the one that then proceeded to decorate itself with the most beautiful and picturesque snowfall just for your visit, and the one that was also the most expensive and farthest out of your financial reach, just happens to send you what amounts to a full scholarship.

Or when there are not one, but two sets of beautiful kittens born under your own front porch in one summer, and the second litter (of only 2 cats, which is the perfect number of adoptees) bears an uncanny resemblance to a pair of cats from your childhood, and one of the two kittens practically begs at the front door to be let inside, and the timing just happens to be pretty darned good for your family to introduce pets.

Apparently, now the Universe is in dire need of a picture album of my family. There have been Signs.

We took the kids to see Santa at the mall on the Sunday before Thanksgiving. For the grand price of $25 we got a couple of snapshots of the kids on Santa's lap, a CD of the same snapshot, and a $20 gift card to Shutterfly. (Did I mention that the Universe might be named Shutterfly for purposes of this post?). $20 is way more than I needed to order a few extra prints of the Santa pose, so I started browsing the photo books. You know, the ones where you upload like 100 pictures and design your own book. They're great. They're beautiful. They give me panic attacks.

I have no idea where my hang-up about pictures and albums (and the insertion of the one into the other) comes from. It's not like I've ever been attacked by a rabid scrapbook or mauled by a glue-dot wielding paper cutter or anything. But when it comes to dealing with photos, I freeze.

I'm getting better. Thanks to the choosing of my own camera (one that didn't have so many buttons and lenses that it requires a college degree to shoot a photo), and to the purchase of my phone (with built-in camera), I now willingly take photos. Without prompting. I even share them (that whole "Share via Facebook" option on the phone goes so fast I don't have time to pass out from the hyperventilating).

Back to Shutterfly and the photo books. I've made one of these before. Last year, after our family trip to Destin over Thanksgiving, I spent hours arranging our photos onto pages and choosing background colors. It turned out really nice, and the kids love the finished book to pieces, and I've been afraid of that website ever since. It's a time suck and something about all of that arranging and sorting just seems so hard. (Yes, I am the same person who is writing my 4th novel-length manuscript that I hope to someday publish, this one being an epic fantasy that will likely clock in somewhere over 100,000 words long. Clearly large tasks don't always freak me out).

So, $20 gift card. I've got to spend it (not doing so violates every instinct against gifting my money to some corporate bottom line). I looked at the site Sunday morning and ended up running from the computer in terror. And then, at the grocery store checkout Sunday night, they printed me out a nice coupon. Was it $2 off my next grocery order? Oh, no. They couldn't be that kind. No, it was a free 8x8 photo book from Shutterfly.