IAHP Trip- Free Day #1- New York City

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IAHP Trip Free Day: New Year City, here we come… 

Walmart shenanigans

 

Early Morning Walmart Trip

Morning came painfully early. Regardless we didn’t want to miss any of our precious free time. When traveling to the IAHP, Free Days are limited. There was so much to see and do within driving distance, we got up and started our day. We knew we were going to meet a friend of mine at the Maryland Zoo on Sunday, so we decided to head the other direction. We drove to Coney Island. Before we hit the highway made another trip to Walmart to grab some supplies and snacks. Little Z had a blast playing with the over sized mascot heads.

 

 

Elastic Man Meets Houdini

About to head out on our road trip!

We left Pennsylvania, drove through New Jersey. Suddenly Zakari became a mixture of Elastic Man and Houdini. I look behind me and he has managed to weasel his upper body out of his car seat and he is trying to open up the back door. While we are on the interstate doing speeds that would have your license revoked in Canada.

Honestly I’m not sure how this happened. I’m what some might refer to as a “Carseat Nazi”. I’m very careful to make sure that my son is buckled up properly. But I guess he discovered how to unbuckle the chest clip and was able to get his arms out. This was a new car seat we bought specifically for the trip. I do not recommend traveling with a car seat your not use to using.

Needless to say it’s not as easy to pull over on the interstate in New Jersey as it is to on a Manitoba highway. I had to unbuckle myself and climb into the back to fix his seatbelt. Slightly scary since the car was traveling nearly the speed of light while Z and I were not properly restrained. Let alone the fact he was trying to open the door. Not my idea of fun.

New York City!!

Crossing the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge

An hour and a half later we arrived in New York City. There was that iconic bridge you see in the movies. Except in the movies, they usually don’t mention the $15US toll to drive over that bridge. Now that’s something I was not use to, tolls. Where I’m from you don’t have to pay to drive on a road. I feared what my credit card statement was going to reveal when I got the EZ Pass bill. It seems like everywhere we went there was a new toll to pay for. I’m glad that we figured out there was an option in our GPS to avoid toll roads.

Of course Zakari was not done living dangerously. He was demanding we pull over so he could “go swimming” in the Ocean.  I had to keep a close eye on him, because I was worried he was going to pull Houdini and try and jump out again. Thank god for child locks on the back doors and the fact he could not undo the lower clip/buckle.

 

Visiting The New York Aquarium

New York Aquarium with Daddy

Little Z loves sea creatures especially penguins. When we went to Alberta we spent so much time watching the penguins at the Calgary Zoo and the Aquarium exhibit in the West Edmonton Mall. So we were pretty sure we wanted to take him to the New York Aquarium. It is the oldest Aquarium in the United States that is still open. After doing a little research, we were aware that they were under construction. From what I read online there was mixed reviews whether it was worth the money or not.

The aquarium was damaged in 2012 by Hurricane Sandy. Staff members had to work tirelessly after the storm to help save as many of the aquatic residents as possible. According to many people on facebook the aquarium as never been the same and some exhibits are still under construction.

However for the $12 a person we paid, we were happy with our visit. We were quite proud with how Z was able to handle the crowds. I love to see the wonder in his eyes when he gets the opportunity to see these beautiful creatures. However just like on the plane the day before, Z had his own ideas how things should go. He got quite upset with us when we would not allow him to swim with the sea lions. The idea this kid gets sometimes cracks me up.

I’d say we spent 45 mins to an hour there exploring. I loved that we were able to buy our tickets on my phone and avoid the ticket lines. We just walked up to the advance tickets door and they scanned my phone and let us in.

Exploring Coney Island

When we were done at the aquarium, I really wanted to check out Coney Island. Since we had already paid for parking at the Aquarium, we just walked down the boardwalk. However we were not able to spend much time here because we seemed to have reached Little Z’s sensory limit. I would have loved to walk down through the midway or let him get his feet wet in the Atlantic Ocean. But now we have another place to add to our bucket list to visit and experience.

We still got to see the ocean, have fresh squeezed lemonade and get the Coney Island vibe. Spiderman came to pose for a picture, but Z was not having it. Maybe it had something to do with the fact it he had a Mexican accent instead of a Brooklyn accent and Z knew he was a fake.

Driving Around New York City

NYPD Parking Enforcement Vehicle

Ground Zero – 9/11

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was getting late, but we did not want to miss having a look around New York City. Z was content with his snack and drink, so we went for a drive. We were told we were crazy even to drive into New York City by other people who had visited the city, but we did just fine. We were able to see the Statue of Liberty and Ground Zero from the comfort of our rental car. I know it’s not the same, but one day we will go back and experience the whole city the right way.

Homestyle Food – Bob Evans

On our way back to Philadelphia we decided to pre order some food online from Bob Evans. I remember when I went to Florida with my family when I was a kid that we loved this restaurant. Usually when we head out to the USA we visit North Dakota which does not have a Bob Evans. My friend from Baltimore had posted a photo of her take out from there on Facebook a few weeks before and I knew I had to eat their at least once. Isn’t technology amazing that you can order food online right from your phone and have it ready when you get there. I just pulled up the menu while Travis drove and selected everything I wanted.

Of course some where in New Jersey someone *cough*Zakari*cough* needed to stop and use the washroom. Driving down the interstate there is not an easy way to stop and find a washroom. We were luckily we able to find a turn off quite quickly that lead to a small town that had a Dunkin’ Donuts. And thank goodness for GPS which helped us find our way back onto the interstate. It was starting to get late and I had no interest in getting lost in a strange place.

Back in Philadelphia

Little Z after a full day of exploring

Finally we made it back to Philadelphia. Just in time to pick up our pot roast meal. I ran in and after a long day of exploring, the aroma of roast, mashed potatoes, veggies and yummy rolls were just what we all needed. I was so glad to be able to get a more home cooked meal while traveling.

Exhausted we went back to the hotel and ate. We all showered and changed into our pjs.  Of course since Z was out of his routine, it took us a while to get him to sleep. So we watched Netflix, and finally shortly after midnight we got him to sleep.

Our second day of our trip was in the books. We were in 3 different states, two of which I had never visited. What an amazing adventure.

If you missed my post about how we got to Philadelphia, be sure to read: IAHP Travel Day- Arriving in Philadelphia 

 

5 Tips to Keep Your Kids Safe in Their Car Seats. Learn From My Mistakes.

Sitting forward facing, and was injured in a
minor car accident. (Whiplash)

When Z was 18 months old, he hit 20lbs and was getting too big for his rear facing bucket car seat. So I thought, well the rules are if a child is 1 years old or older, can walk, and is over 20lbs its ok to change them to a forward facing car seat. Z met all these requirements so I thought we were good to switch him. Besides Wes was 13 months when I switched him(He was a big boy). Z got 5 more months rear facing, he must be ready.

4 months later we were in a car accident. An emergency vehicle was passing and I had slowed down with traffic to allow them to pass. Once they were passed I began accelerating to the speed limit, when out of nowheres, a woman went from the left turning lane, right into my lane. It was physically impossible for me to stop in time and I nailed her passenger side door. As we slammed into her I saw a 10 year olds eyes staring at me from the van’s passenger seat. As soon as I knew everyone in our car was ok. I backed the car up a bit so I could open my door. I ran to the car and the child in the front seat was ok, and the woman was finishing her conversation on her cellphone!! Talking on the phone while driving is illegal in Manitoba, so to finish your conversation after you caused an accident is unacceptable. So I grabbed my phone and started taking photos. 

Although my car was badly damaged, in the end everyone was ok, and she accepted responsibility. Luckily I wasn’t going the speed limit as we had just slowed down for the emergency vehicle. Because if I had been doing 80km, a lot more damage would have been done.

 

I hit the door during impact and got a pretty mean whiplash. Also because Z was forward facing, he sadly also suffered from whiplash. It wasn’t until a few months later that I realized, if Z had been rear facing, he would not have likely gotten whiplash. 
 
Needless to say he got turned around that night. 
 
How can you keep your child as safe as possible in the car?
 
1) Buy a car seat that allows for your child to stay rear facing as long as possible. Don’t change to the next stage until your child reaches the maximum height or weight.
Picture from
http://www.besafe.com/en/i-size/rear-facing-car-seats-are-safer

Oh but they look so squished rear facing. My child’s legs are too long. They don’t like being rear facing. Well this is what I have to say to you. Have you ever seen the positions a child will get into while playing? Trust me they are not squashed. Would you rather your child have a broken leg or a broken neck? Also if they didn’t having a bath would you not give them one?
 
 
 
2) Make sure your child’s chest clip is where it should be, at the chest, not on the stomach. 
Photo from http://csftl.org/a-chest-clip-goes-on-the-chest/

According to Car Seats For the Littles website, if the strap is too low they risk being ejected from their car seat, and its too high they risk neck injury. 

 
3) Make sure your child’s car seat straps are tight enough.

Do the pinch test. If you can pinch the strap, its not tight enough. You want to make sure to have the right fit, otherwise your child could wiggle their way out of the straps when you are not looking, not be held in tight during an accident and be thrown around in their seat, or worse case be ejected from the seat.  

 
 
4) Make sure your child’s car seat is strapped tight enough to the seat, and it is in the proper spot. 
 
Make sure you cannot move your child’s car seat more than 1 inch front to back, and side to side. While learning how to properly install car seats in my own vehicle, I found this Youtube video very helpful. 

5) Puffy snowsuits are a big no-no.

This one was news to me! Puffy snow are dangerous to wear in a car seat. This was hard to swallow for me, someone who lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Heck our city’s nickname is Winterpeg for crying out loud. 

Basically what happens is a bulky coat, will cause the straps to fit the child too loosely, making them less effective. 

You can read HERE, to see if your child’s jacket is too big, and what you can do if it is. 

Please ignore the fact that my son is forward facing in this photo, However you can see that he is wearing a two piece fleece suit over his clothes. I always prewarm the car and cover him with a blanket once he’s strapped in. But 9 times out of 10, he doesn’t need the blanket and bunches it up to cuddle with.We also alway bring along his warmer puffy jacket in case we hit a ditch or the car breaks down.

Disclaimer: I am not a car seat tech, or car seat specialist of any sort. I am just a mom of two, sharing with you my discoveries through my own research online and while talking with insurance approved car seat specialist. If in doubt contact your local automobile insurance company and ask them where you can contact a car seat specialist in your area. Many times local fire stations also have trained car seat techs.