This infographic spells out just how dangerous it is to drive while otherwise occupied. Stay safe! Many accidents are preventable!
Presented By IFA Auto Insurance
May 9, 2013 No Comments
In a few weeks I’m heading to the Bonnaroo music festival in Tennessee with a group of girl friends. It will be my 5th year in a row. If you’re not familiar with this type of festival, imagine a huge farm swarming with 80 – 100,000 sweaty dirty people, all having a great time listening to dozens of different bands, and rouging it by camping in tents next to their cars with no water or electricity. Just imagine Woodstock, and you’ll understand.
Most attendees are in their 20’s. They have stamina of youth. My gal pals and I trend toward a slightly older demographic. We have put up with too much in our lives to live without modern conveniences for too many days in a row, and frankly we need to rest easy in order to be able to keep up with our whippersnapper counterparts. So we pay the extra money for the VIP parking and bring our party to the party in a vintage motor home RV. We camp in luxury and sleep in air conditioning!
I’ve often considered the pros and cons of and RV verses a camper van for other road trip vacations. There are lots of places to rent vehicles like these in almost any country you visit, for example check out the Drive Now offers for campervan hire in New Zealand.
In the 70’s and 80’s my family had a big Chevy camper van. It was like a mini RV. It had sleeping areas and a cooking unit, and even a small refrigerator, but unlike its bulky motor home cousin, it had all the convenience of being a more normal sized vehicle. It was much larger than today’s minivan, but unlike an RV, it was easy to drive, easy to park, and easier on gas. We made so many memories in our big “Blue Goose” (the nickname we gave our van). Not only did our family use it for camping, but my mother used it as her regular vehicle and literally worked out of it as a soccer mom when we weren’t road tripping.
Camper van or motor home, I’m game for having a good time either way! In fact, I hope I see you at Bonnaroo!
April 11, 2013 3 Comments
If you smile and turn around in your minivan you will probably see your dear darlings smiling back at you while they are safely strapped to their car seats. Now picture yourself a few years from now when you are no longer the one in the driver’s seat, and your dear darling is now grinning at you from behind the wheel. You are now white-knuckled to the arm rests of the passenger seat while your teen age driver smashes the accelerator just a little too hard, or over-corrects every turn. You instinctively reach for the brakes in front of you before you remember that you don’t have any on your side of the vehicle.
Welcome to my world.
I am about to be the mother of two teen age drivers. My darling daughter is about to join her older brother in the ranks of Kentucky drivers since she is taking her driver’s test next week. They both learned how to drive on my minivan.
I’ve had to do some research to make our new driver fit into our family budget too. Where I live, you don’t have to add a driver with a learners permit to your insurance, but once they get the actual license, you will need car insurance for your teen. Good thing mine can now drive herself to her job to help pay for it.
So, Kentucky motorists, please welcome a new driver to the streets. You have been warned. (PS. Congratulations to my darling daughter)
February 16, 2013 2 Comments
Ever have one of those road trips where you are at your wits end, and you are actually considering the all-inclusive fix-it tool – duct tape? Before resorting to this extreme parenting method, consider a couple of alternative car games instead:
SWEET OR SOUR
“Sweet or Sour” is an amusing game for all ages. When you are stuck in traffic on the highway, this is a great time to play this game. Wave to the people wave at one of the cars close to you, or do something else to get their attention. If the person waves or honks back they are sweet. If you know they can see you, but they are pretending they don’t, then that car is sour. You play as a whole car or individually, but keep track of the people who are sweet and sour. You get extra points if the person honks. Keep score or just a record of all the Sweet vs. Sour cars, and see if you can improve your results on the next trip.
THE QUARTER GAME (A variation of The Quiet Game, but with reward!)
“When the kids start getting bored and my nerves are getting frayed, we play the “Quarter Game.” It’s simple — which ever child doesn’t speak for the longest time gets a quarter. It’s a fun, friendly competition plus it gives Mom and Dad a few quiet moments to regain sanity. Kids love it too!” (Submitted by reader, Samantha. Thanks!)
So, before you break out the drastic car management tactics like duct taping your darling children’s smiles, renew their dental insurance and let those pearly whites gleam as you travel the highways in harmony because you kept them happy and occupied on the road. And before anyone gets excited, the kids featured in the photo are my darling nephews who volunteered for this shot! Thanks guys! You are too cute.
February 16, 2013 No Comments
Somewhere in the middle of a beautiful rural Kentucky byway, while I was on my way to Kentucky Lake for my annual Pirate Adventure , my minivan had a birthday. Or rather, a birth-mile. Sylvia (my minivan, also known as “The Mother Ship”) turned 100,000 miles. I took a picture.
Why is that mile different from any other? When I posted the photo to my facebook, I had many friends comment on their locations when their own vehicles hit this milestone. They all remembered where they were when that odometer turned over 99,999 –> 100,000 . I guess it’s just really fun to watch all those 9′s turn over!
One friend commented, “Keep going! You’re halfway to the moon!”
I remember one of my previous cars turning 100,000. It was a Toyota Camry and I was on my way to work teaching school when it turned. Considering the Camry cost of ownership, it would be nice to still have it since it would have kept going forever. But, after my 3rd child and a hoard of Girl Scouts, I traded it in for my series of minivans and became a minivan mom.
So, happy milestone, Sylvia. Here’s to many more fun miles on the way to more adventures!
December 18, 2012 No Comments
I have added two new videos where I show some of my favorite travel products that are available online. They are travel games by Melissa and Doug toy company that I really like. My family has played with these for years, and as a bonus, you can finally see ME in these videos telling you about the items!
I’ve been working hard on my Youtube channel recently and added a lot of new videos. I would love for you to check it out and subscribe to my channel, or at least leave me some comments and hit the “thumbs up” on a few of the videos if you like them. Please let me know what you’d like to see more!
December 1, 2012 1 Comment
Admit it, we’ve all been there. Your patience has run out and you begin to entertain deranged thoughts about how to keep our kids under control in the car just so you can have some peace! Tying your kid to the roof of the car, or duct taping their mouth closed doesn’t seem all that bad, does it?!
If you’ve had “Bad Parent” thoughts, then you are probably normal, providing of course that you don’t seriously act on these thoughts! The best advice I can give if you feel guilty about it, is to just turn it into humor. It’s really our brain’s way of dealing with the stress, and you can actually have fun with these ideas with your kids in the process.
Take a look at the video that my nephews and nieces helped me make along with my own children recently. Obviously I don’t seriously recommend these techniques, but you can’t tell me you’ve never thought of some of them!
While you’re there, please subscribe to Momsminivan on YouTube! I have instructional how-to videos for fun kids activities, as well as product reviews and hopefully a few more humorous parenting videos! Now, get out that duct tape, and get busy!
November 30, 2012 No Comments
I always thought there was a special place in Heaven for moms who raise a whole herd of boys. Boys and girls each have their own unique challenges, and from my own experience I can say that boys sure do have a lot of physical energy. Of my three children, only one was a boy. I have a neighbor who already has 3 boys. She is expecting another baby soon. I don’t really know if she’s hoping for a girl, but she can eventually find out if she has an ultrasound done, but even then, they aren’t always correct.
In those early weeks of pregnancy though, she just has to dream and wonder whether she’ll be sticking to the same “boy” track, or switching gears to bring a little sister into the world. She could use a cutsie gender predictor tool that is based on the Chinese Gender Chart. You just enter the mom’s date of birth and your estimated date of conception and it will “predict” for you. It’s really just a novelty, but fun to think about. Seems like everyone wants to know the gender of your baby.
If she does have a girl this time, she’ll have a whole new group of baby names to peruse, but if I were her, I wouldn’t be picking out paint colors just yet!
November 14, 2012 No Comments
If you are expecting your first child, you have begun to experience the wonderful world of baby stuff. Even if this is your second, third, or eighteenth child, you’ve learned that you need to keep up on the latest trends, recalls, and safety wisdom. While every piece of gear you buy is important–with the possible exception of those videos that show toys while classical music drones in the background–the one that both parents and the government require the most from in terms of safety is the car seat.
You’ve got the latest edition of Baby Bargains on your iPad, you’ve narrowed down which houses for sale are in the best school district and don’t have any exposed wiring or trap doors that lead to crocodile pits, your auto insurance is all up-to-date, and you’ve sold the ’72 Chevy Nova for a newer model with LATCH. Congratulations–you are doing an excellent job of building the illusion that you are ready for life as a parent! Your next assignment is to spend a minimum of forty solid hours researching the best infant car seat. Whilst poring through the myriad books, magazines, websites, and parents’ brains, keep the following questions at the front of your mind:
- Does it exceed government standards? Try not to settle for just meeting them. That’s not how modern parents roll.
- Is it easy to use? If it’s hard to get junior in and/or out, your frayed nerve ends may force a brain shutdown, which you don’t need when there’s a diaper that needs changing and a mouth that needs feeding.
- Is it versatile? You really shouldn’t care if the seat matches the upholstery, but at the prices seats go for these days, you might want to consider a seat that will keep your progeny safe for a few years down the road.
- Holy #*%@–$300 for a *$&# car seat? “Costlier” is not a synonym for “safer.” While three large will get you a seat that is safe, feature-rich, and stylish, one of the best-reviewed car seats of 2012 will only set you back $170. If you are not sure what features you need, this is one time when you can trust in online user reviews and friends’ recommendations.
Your mission, should you choose to accept it
A car seat could have an impact-activated forcefield, gyroscopic stabilizers, and inertial dampers, but if it is not used properly, that kid ain’t gonna be safe. Before you even think of installing that thang, read through the included manual–heck, read it in every language, just to be thorough. Check the manufacturer’s website; many feature videos that walk you through the steps. Many local police departments offer child seat inspections; call for a schedule.
Before you leave the house, though, do your best to install the seat to manufacturer’s specifications. This probably requires that you not put the child in the seat and then leave them on the car’s roof, trunk, or hood–it’s a safe bet that the police would not approve of such usage.
Al Natanagara is a writer, journalist, and blogger whose career includes stints with ZDNet, CNet, CBS, LexisNexis, and Law Enforcement. (Guest Blogger for Momsminivan.com)
October 18, 2012 No Comments
Do your kids refuse to cooperate for family vacation photos? If you are a photo-taking maniac, chances are good that they are sick of posing in front of touristy spots for family pictures. If you can’t get them to cooperate at all, then I have the cure. Let them “not cooperate”. Have you looked at your teen’s facebook page lately? It is loaded with really strange and goofy self portraits of themselves and equally odd photos of their friends. That is apparently what teens are after these days.
So let them be goofy. You already have enough “pretty” pictures of your kids, so why not just let them be dorks, and take photos of them having tons of fun!
In other words, when you’re on vacation, don’t pose them in front of cool stuff and and order your children to put on fake smiles — get involved! Ham it up!! Your photos will really capture the fun they are having and they won’t whine every time you want to take their picture. It will make the trip all the more memorable, and they’ll have fun at the same time. No doubt they will probably even share these “family pictures” with their friends, and you’ll have memories for a lifetime.
(These photos were taken during our Thanksgiving trip to Universal Islands of Adventure Tips at the Jurassic Park section of the park.)
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October 4, 2012 No Comments