2/14/14 - Conversion Car Seat upgradeUpdate: Sam's Club currently has the Alpha Elite Convertible for a lower price than Amazon as low as $80 depending on your color options. Here are your options.
While shopping for car seats for Makenna recently, we also realized that Kinsley was pretty close to outgrowing her own car seat. We estimated that we have about 6 months before we have to purchase a new one, but now was as good a time as any to start the research.
We considered getting a second harnessed booster, but recognized that as both of them grew, Makenna would be out of her current seat about the time Kinsley outgrew a conversion seat that supported up to 52".
This opened up the possibility of getting a conversion seat for Kinsley which offers much more cushioning as well as recline capabilities. As much as Kinsley sleeps in the car still, we didn't want to take that ability away. Although the Britax Pioneer seems to provide adequate neck support and prevent head slump, being almost fully reclined seemed to be the most comfortable route.
The model we have decided on is the Safety 1st Alpha Elite Convertible Car Seat. We allowed Kinsley to sit in all of the available options at Babies 'R' Us, and this one was easily her favorite. The Amazon price is currently the lowest available, even with the trade in program.
There were other options at Babies 'R' Us that were cheaper, but we felt for the money, the additional padding was easily worth it. The Alpha Elite also has an adjustable harness that extends much higher than the other cheaper options.
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- Harnessed Booster Seat InformationMakenna (our oldest) recently outgrew her car seat (actually, it was about a year ago and we didn't realize it until recently). So we've been in the market for a new car seat. Here is our research, thought process and additional information you might could use when you do the same.
At nearly six years old, Makenna is 44" tall and right at about 33 pounds. She is tall and skinny. For this reason, as well as the fact that harnessing is simply safer, we wanted her in a harness for as long as possible. Sidenote, if five point harnesses are safest for a race care driver, it seems like it would be the safest for everyone, but that's just my thinking. All resources we could find recommended being in some sort of child restraint up to 4'9" or 57". For this reason, we took total height support into consideration, and used it as one of our top metrics.
We ultimately purchased the Britax Pioneer from Babies 'R' Us in a red color, but here is the link to amazon for the Britax Pioneer 70 Harness-2-Booster Car Seat. Here is the link to Babies R Us, for the same model in the red color.
Piece of advice, the $190 price tag negates the current 25% trade in coupon that Babies 'R' Us is currently running, so you have to request that you pay full price of $199 to get that 25% off, making it about $163 with taxes. You can try to get the 25% off of the "Red Hot Deal", but don't count on it. Amazon's every day price on the other hand is $163 with free shipping.
Why did we get this particular car seat? Because of the additional height in harness restraint and comfort. You can see on Britax's website this seat supports harnessing up to 54", where as most other models, such as the Graco Nautilus and Graco Argos (which are currently not being carried by Amazon) only go up to 52". For this reason, the Pioneer provides an additional 2", or almost a year's worth of growth. At that point, it then converts to a belt positioning booster seat, for another 5" of height, or about 2 years of growth. This should be the last car seat we buy for Makenna, and then will be able to move it over to Kinsley. It has an expiration of 9 years which means it will last plenty long enough. It also has some recline capabilities, and when trying them out, Makenna said that this was easily the most comfortable to sit in, having the most butt cushioning of them all.
Why did we not get the Nautilus/Argos? Because of the seat back position and bottom belt location. We had Makenna sit in all of the options, and felt sorry for any child sitting in the Nautilus/Argos, it seemed like it sat straight up and even bowed her back a bit. Not something I would ever want to sit in, much less any car trip of more than about 5 minutes. As for the bottom belt positioning, it simply was horrible design. Even as skinny as she is, she was sitting on that bottom buckle at it's most spacious setting. There was no way any child larger than her could reasonably use this car seat. I would provide some links, but as I mentioned, Amazon is not currently carrying these models, probably because of the recent recall. This recall is not safety related, but a recall to replace the buckles that have the potential of locking, and not being able to open them back up. From what we saw, it is still a very safe car seat.
Why not the Britax Frontier 90 Booster Car Seat, Onyx to begin with? Because of price. Even with the current trade in program at Babies 'R' Us, it was still about $235 (same cost online at Amazon as well). The biggest features of the Frontier is the ClickTight Installation system. If we were moving this car seat around a lot, this alone would be worth the extra cost. As it is, we rarely move the car seats around, so this won't be much of an issue. Reviews stated that the quality seemed a bit higher on the Frontier over the Pioneer, but we felt that the cost difference wouldn't merit these upgrades. The other point towards this model though is the additional height. It supports harnessing up to 58" and belt positioning up to 5'2" or 62". Basically, Cristi would be able to use this car seat, and she's a grown woman.
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1/17/14 - "What I talk about..." review
Recently I read What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami. Based on suggestions from the reddit running community, this was the number one book to be read by runners. It was praised as being a great book both about life, running and writing. Of course, I was actually only interested in the running part, but the other sections were interesting as well.
I didn't have any expectations going into the book, other than hoping to get a few motivational thoughts, quotes or stories in an attempt to get me back on the road. I was not disappointed. In fact, the introduction of the book left me with this gem:"Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional." This same statement has been made multiple times, in multiple ways, but I had never heard it phrased this way before. Although Mr. Murakami
was referring more to the physical nature of pain and suffering, I felt that it just as well applied to other life applications. No matter what happens, there will be struggles and they will suck. It is up to the individual to determine if they will let those down times be a point of suffering in their life, or allow it to strengthen them.
To touch on more of the concept of the book, it is a memoir of the author's life and his interactions with both being a runner and a novelist. He explained very well through different specific instances how his running and writing played a major role in each other. It was through these different individual events that he was able to put together several chapters if interesting reading and motivation for the reader.
His thoughts on life and more specifically the inevitability of death was very interesting to me. He expressed how he learned to appreciate the slow crawl towards the end of his life and accepted that as a challenge. He recognized that his physical performance would continue to decrease, but that he would never quite the constant struggle to better himself.
Another of the quotes from the book that I particularly enjoyed was simply "As long as you have running shoes and a good road you can run to your heart’s content." Having talked with other runners in the past, this is a very common theme. With most sports or athletic endeavors, lots of equipment is needed, or specific locales. Basketball for example requires a ball and a hoop at minimum. Ideally, a backboard, net and court would also be available. Swimming requires no particular equipment, but you need a large body of water. With running, however, you just need to have legs that will propel you. Shoes obviously help, but you can run anywhere. Paved roads or dirt roads, uphill courses or flat runs, the variances might be there, but the end result is the same, just go run.
The final quote was not motivational at all, but hit very close to home. As he was retelling his experience with his final training run before his first marathon, he explained that he traveled 22 miles in preparation for the upcoming event. After finishing, he felt great and was ready for the full distance. His following comment was: "It was only later that I found out the hard way that the toughest part of a marathon comes after twenty-two miles." I was able to make an immediate connection as many of my longer runs for my second marathon (the first one I was really prepared for) ended around 20 miles, each with stops in the middle to refuel and such. On race day, it was mile 19.5 that decided the real running started.
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1/15/14 - Nobody Knows the Truffles I've SeenI put together a puzzle on my lunch break at work over the last week. It was a gift from one of my lawn care customers who is also a pretty big puzzle fan. This one seemed pretty easy, so I took a new approach. Notice the sticky notes in the finished product, I used those to approximate the end size of the puzzle. So instead of sorting all the pieces by color or other similarities, I would pull a piece from the box and approximate it's position on the table based on the picture on the box. Using this method, it took me roughly 3 hours total, working in small spurts over the course of the week. It was a fun puzzle, but the technique is only functional for puzzles like this where there are essentially no repeating patterns.
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1/12/14 - Amazon.com referral program is backQuite some time ago, because of lawmakers in the state of Arkansas and a few other states around the country, Amazon decided to end the Associates program of individuals living in those states. That program was my primary method of paying for this website, and helped me out greatly.
Recently (see, this afternoon), I decided to set that program back up using a new method and the results at this point are promising. Please note the link in the upper right hand corner that says Amazon.com. Using that link, it will take you directly to the amazon home page where you can search, order and do everything you normally would with no hidden tricks. Once you click that link, you can bookmark it so that you have quick access to it.
Every time you order something after following that link, I get a small percentage, usually around 4% of the total purchase price. It's not much, but I made enough previously to cover the hosting costs and domain registration for this site. If you'd like to share the link with others, I wouldn't complain.
1/10/14 - Nothing is right about thisAlthough the lights were on, the driver was still sitting there and the engine was off. He sat there the entire time I walked to my car and drove out of the parking lot.
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3/18/13 - Sad news (well to some anyways)I have decided that for 2013, I will not be hosting a March Madness pool. This includes the Annual Little Rock office challenge as well as the Annual Walker pool. I hope to be back for 2014, but this year I am definitely out.
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10/25/12 - Candied Bacon, You are welcome and I'm sorry.You are welcome for sharing this amazing recipe with you, but I'm sorry because you will begin wanting it on a regular basis, and this recipe probably wouldn't be approved by 99% of dietitians out there. I've learned to only make this for special occasions and to immediately cut pieces into 1 inch squares immediately after cooling. Otherwise, it's WAY too easy to pick up a whole strip and consume...and then repeat.
I've made this several times in the past, but apparently never wrote down how I do it so it's trial and error for the first few batches every time. I'm going to write it down this time so no more burnt or soggy bacon!!!
Very important piece of information is the bacon used. I've tried this with off brand, thin cut, standard bacon and it simply wasn't all that great. I only use the nicer bacon, Hickory Smoked Petit Jean is my favorite. It's a bit more expensive, but worth the extra cost.
Between each batch of bacon, be sure to remove the excess sugar and bacon grease/fat from the pan. I've contemplated saving this for use in a different application, but have not come up with a solution. Share your ideas in the comments below if you have any.
Also, be sure to keep the bacon refrigerated between rounds. By the time you are done, you'll have room temperature bacon as opposed to the colder bacon at the beginning which will result in crispier (possibly burnt?) bacon.
I use a 13 minute, 14 minute rotation at 325, but bumping to 350 would result in a crispier bacon. Next time I prepare this, I'll play around with more time and temperatures, but the results from the following recipe were fantastic.
- Preheat your oven and stoneware pan to 325 degrees. When I make this, I make several batches of about 5-6 pieces per round. After the first batch, the stone will be preheated, so to enjoy a consistent product, preheating the stone allows for this.
- Lay down the bacon giving each piece a little bit of room, this will make it easier when flipping.
- Cover each piece with brown sugar. Don't mound the sugar, but rather just enough where you get a thin coating. As this bakes, the sugar will melt and spread.
- Put in the oven for 13 minutes.
- Pull out the stone, flip each piece and coat again with brown sugar using the same process as above.
- Bake for another 14 minutes.
- Remove from oven and pan, placing the now completed candied bacon on room temperature surface. I use our dinner plates, but any surface where melted sugar wouldn't have a good chance to adhere to. Stay away from paper towels.
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10/10/12 - Proper running/driving etiquette?Now that I've been running more lately, I've come across several situations where I question the ability of the average human to properly operate a motor vehicle. However, at the same time, I question if I'm the one that is not handling the situation properly. Although I have a pretty good feeling that the only responses I get to this blog post will be from an Anonymous commenter advertising the greatest anti aging cream ever, I still have to try.
Here's the issue, at least for this post, there might be more in the future. When I'm running on a sidewalk, with the flow of traffic*, and a vehicle from the opposite direction is turning left down the side street that I am about to cross, there seems to be way too much confusion on the part of the driver as to what they should do.
As I come up to an intersection and I see a car turning onto a side street, I'll typically slow down if I think there come be any possibility that we meet at the same time. I feel that the car has the right of way, and even if they don't, I should yield to them for safety reasons. If I think I can make it with no issue, I'll speed up and pass.
The confusion comes in when the driver makes the turn, and gets halfway onto the side street, the rear of the car, or sometimes all of the car still in oncoming traffic of the main street. Apparently they didn't notice me on the sidewalk a mere 20 feet in front of them and they immediately stop when they do, even though I had come to a stand still jog. Instead of motioning for me to cross, or honking, they just sit and stare. It then becomes my responsibility to remind them that they are now blocking traffic and should go, so I wave them on.
I've had a handful of situations where they, in return signal for me to go ahead and cross...all the while, they are still sitting in traffic. I'm not sure who is correct, but it seems to me that from a safety viewpoint, the car should get out of the oncoming lanes. I'm pretty sure if the drivers were paying more attention, they could have waited to turn and allowed me to cross before making the turn. That seems like a pretty big stretch though to ask other drivers to pay attention to their surroundings.
So there's my question, all that to ask "How should the situation be handled when a driver attempts to turn onto a street that I'm attempting to cross?"
* I could be in the wrong by running with traffic. However, it is my understanding that running against traffic is only applicable when running on the shoulder or directly in the lane of traffic, essentially when no sidewalks are available. Someone please correct me if I'm wrong here. Should I as a pedestrian, always go against the flow of traffic even if a sidewalk is not available on that side of the road, or should the sidewalk always take precedence?
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4/2/12 - March Madness Final results
The final results will be posted tomorrow. I have not had a chance to update from this weekend, but both the Annual Little Rock Office March Madness Challenge and the Walker Pool have been finalized, left over to a tiebreak for 1st and 2nd in the Walker Pool. Points in parentheses are current scores. If Kentucky wins, you can add 6 to each of the point totals as all of our winners have Kentucky winning the title. Those few that picked Kansas to win it all are too far behind to catch these entries.
For the Little Rock Office Challenge, Michael Hall (84) took 1st place followed by Darren Tillery (80) and Flint Allen (78).
For the Walker Pool, Eric Chilton (76) and Michael Pierce (76) will be battling for 1st and 2nd ($150 and $75). Eric has a tiebreak of 163 and Michael 164. 163 or less and the title is Eric's. 164 or more and Michael gets the big money. Third place and $25 has been wrapped up by Kyle Raible.
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