Tag Archives: moving

Kids Are Quick So Keep Your Medicine Out of Reach

Keep your meds high and out of reach!

If you’re a parent I don’t have to tell you how quick kids are.

It’s never when you need them to be fast like getting out of bed, getting dressed, putting their shoes on, or picking things up off the ground. Those times? Slow as molasses. But take your eyes off them for 1.4 seconds at the grocery store or stop holding hands at a traffic light for a millisecond and you’ll see EXACTLY how quick they are as you experience some of the scariest moments of your life.

We all those fears of our kids getting lost in a crowd or escaping from us near the street and toddling out into traffic, but there’s something many parents, myself included, haven’t given much thought to — how quick they can be getting into unsecured medicine cabinets.

Seeing that this week is National Poison Prevention Week (March 19-25), it’s a great time to drop some knowledge about kids getting into medicine that can be severely harmful. Tell me if these two data points shock you as much as they did me:

  • Approximately 60,000 kids go to the ER every year due to accidental medicine ingestion. Think about that number. It means four school buses full of children EVERY DAY go to the ER because they get into medicine they’re not supposed to.
  • According to SafeKids, “half of the 2 million calls to poison control centers in 2011 were for exposures and ingestions among kids 5 and under.” That’s a lot of little hands opening cabinets they shouldn’t be able to access.

While restricting access as much as possible is important, so is the messaging we give our kids about medicine. Namely, we need to have honest and frank conversations with them about what medicine is, and that only parents or a trusted caregiver should administer it to them. And NEVER tell them medicine is candy, no matter how difficult it is to get them to take it.

This is especially important to me right now because we’re moving to a new house, and that means packing. So while we’re generally careful with where our meds are stored (even putting a lock on the closet so the little ones can’t get in), it’s an issue we need to keep in mind now more than ever since everything is being put away and in transit. It’s also not just a problem we need to deal with at home, but also when we travel and when our kids go to other homes (like a visit with grandparents). A lapse could mean a life, so I’m going to ask you to do something.

Lock ’em up (the meds, not the kids)

Please take some time this week to double check that your medicines are stored safely up, away, and out of sight of the kids. I know it sounds like something that could never happen to you, but it can. It can happen to all of us — the best of us — and it’s entirely preventable if we just take a little time to be proactive.

Please check out Up & Away for more information and tips, and keep the Poison Control Centers’ phone number handy at home and lock it into your cell phone:  (800-222-1222).

This is a sponsored post. I am collaborating with the CHPA (Consumer Health Products Association) Educational Foundation and knowyourOTCs.org. I was compensated for this post but as always, my opinions are my own.

 

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The Long Road to Our New House

Our new house
Our new house

In five days this will be our new home.

The road to this point has been long, difficult, and even broken in some parts. But a place of our own that we actually own has always been the goal. Always. The specter and possibility of it loomed behind every decision MJ and I made, and home ownership is the impetus for every hour I work. Every side job I take. Every penny MJ meticulously saves. Every minute I’m away from my family has been spent in order to one day provide them with a place that’s ours and ours alone.

Some people shake their head at my tunnel vision and tell me it’s not worth all the worry and stress and especially the money. But honestly, a single family home is about more than the money for me.

I’ve lived in apartments or condos for the last 16 years. Which is fine — it’s not like I’ve suffered. But you know what I’m looking forward to? Light from all four sides of the house. Think about it. For a decade and a half I’ve had one wall that is essentially a dead end. A barrier. A windowless stretch of darkness which is enough to block out the light, but not the sounds and annoyances of neighbors residing on the other side. When we walk into our new house, I’m going to stand in the middle of it all and bask in the sunlight streaming in from all directions, and not give a damn about people upstairs, downstairs, or adjacent.

This move also means security and permanency for my family.

Sturdy walls on the outside tough enough to weather the elements and a welcoming coziness inside that keeps my family warm and comforted. It’s an old house to be sure, and a century worth of life has taken place in and around it. But we will breathe new life into it. Revive it. Let it revive us. It will be our sun and we’ll revolve around it as our clan ages in orbit, and hopefully it will create a gravitational pull for our boys that keeps them coming back occasionally even after they take up residence elsewhere.

The yard isn’t big but it’s enough room for three boys to play and pretend our patch of woods is a far-off forest. The rocks mountains. The trees far better climbing structures than any playground.

The neighborhood is centrally located but tucked away and quiet. School is now a short walk instead of a drive, allowing us a slice of Americana that has all but disappeared. The town is safe, the schools are well funded, and we even have friends within walking distance.

The garage is an enigma to me, having never had one. A happy puzzle to solve, to be sure. Will the car go in there? My canoe and kayak? My snowblower? Crap, I’m gonna need to buy a snowblower!

But mainly, this place is our home base. Our little corner of the world. Ours. No more worrying about whether or not the landlord is going to sell or finding a place after our lease is up. No more stopping the kids from hanging out in the backyard because the people we share a wall with are already out there and we don’t get along with them. No more guilt about not providing something more substantial and permanent for the kids. This will be our little universe and a place where untold memories will be made.

Yet what I just realized — and I mean it actually dawned on me right now while writing that last paragraph — is this isn’t really a new home. It’s a new house. Home? That’s wherever MJ and the boys are.

She is my sunlight on all four sides and she is the tough and protective exterior with comfort on the inside. The kids are my warmth and the memories are made no matter what and where we are. A house has an address but home is a state of mind that can’t be mapped. I’m thrilled to be in the new place and proud of how hard we worked to get there, but ultimately I’m proud of us and what we’ve built together as a family.

Wherever they are, I’ll be home.

My family is home
They are home, wherever they are.
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All Roads Lead Home

Moving back in with your parents at the age of 32 with a wife and kid in tow is fairly unsettling. Second only, I’m sure, to being said parents and having your house unexpectedly invaded by two adults, a child, a pesky golden retriever and a fish. Sure enough, it’s taken some getting used to on both sides.

And while I can only speak for myself, I have to admit: it’s not so bad.

This is my hometown and this house will always be home to me. It’s where I spent my youth. It’s where I went to school. It’s where MJ grew up too. I live 3 miles from my old elementary school and just a few more from the school at which MJ and I first met in the sixth grade more than two decades ago. When we got engaged we drove to the school parking lot, put on our song and danced in the falling snow.

My grandmother’s house is in this town on the reservoir where I caught frogs. I can name at least one family who lives on every street. I know all the restaurants, including Downtown Pizza, the place that kept me alive throughout my formative years with delivery trucks that automatically shot towards my house when you put them in gear. I know the best places to go for a walk, I know where the cops set up speed traps and I can drive the roads with my eyes closed.

My dad graduated from Norton High School, as did his father before him. I’m not lying or exaggerating when I tell you half of the teachers I had in high school also taught my parents. My parents met in middle school and were dating halfway through high school. Three years after graduation they were married. And while they’ve lived in several homes over the years, all of them have been in Norton.

My mom is involved with the church because my grandmother was the choir director until her death in 1996. My mom also drove the school bus. My dad has been a selectmen in town twice, a finance committee member and currently serves as the Town Moderator. He also writes a column for the local daily newspaper. High school sweethearts? Check. Lifelong residents? Check. Total townies? Big time check.

All of this to say that for a creature of convenience like myself, this kind of familiarity is extremely comforting.

I’m a traditionalist at heart. And the older I get the clearer that becomes. So I’d be lying if I said the thought of Will spending time in the same town and house I grew up in didn’t please me in some small way. So far I’ve taken him to one of my favorite ponds, showed him my grandmother’s old house and walked on the field on which I learned to play baseball.

I even took him to the cemetery where my two grandmothers, grandfathers and two aunts are buried. Which sounds a little morbid, but really isn’t at all. He may not have met all of them, but he’ll hear stories about them and learn from them nonetheless. It’s important to teach kids to pay their respects.

Every kid grows up trying to escape their hometown and I was no different. I swore I’d get out and never come back, at least not for good. But the more places I visited, the more I saw my hometown wasn’t so bad. And then I slowly realized it wasn’t just “not bad,” it was pretty damn good. Finally I became a parent and realized it’s a helluva place to raise a kid.

Hometowns have a way of calling you back. They’re magnetic in more ways than one, and you can’t underestimate the strength of roots that are dug in deep.

In a few months we’ll move out and have a new place of our own. But in the meantime, I’m listening to the call of my hometown and enjoying what it has to offer. Will loves being with his grandparents (while simultaneously missing his Nana and Grandpa B back on Cape Cod, the one big downside to all of this) and I think he’ll really benefit from getting to spend so much quality time with them. And I get to heed a timeless call, raising my son in the same place I was raised. Fostering an appreciation for a town that will always be special because it will always be home.

Welcome home kid.

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The Mother of All Hoarders

So we moved in with my parents.

Maybe I’d feel more like a failure for writing that last sentence if my parents weren’t a thousand shades of awesome. Honestly. I’m not just saying that because they’re my new landlords roommates. I’m basically a younger, better looking, more talented version of my father so living with him is like living with a slightly less cooler version of myself. And since I know I’m awesome, that’s pretty great. And my mom is just about the most loving, caring, compassionate person I know. They love us, they love Will and I think this will be a great few months while we save up first, last and security to find a new place of our own.

But…

Of course there’s a but. You can’t suddenly move back in with your parents after more than a decade and not have a but or two.

I’m sure you’ve all seen or heard of A&E’s TV show Hoarders. People who feel the need to collect everything in their homes and never, EVER throw anything away. Now before I go any further, I want to say I understand this is a serious condition. Also, my mom is not a hoarder. Well, she’s not a full-fledged hoarder. I guess you could say she hoards as a hobby.

Exhibit A is the picture to the right. Those are nutcrackers on top of the piano. Hundreds of them. Those creepy bastards freak me right the fuck out. I’d love to get rid of even half of them but my mom isn’t having it.

And my new sister-in-law Melissa can tell you about Exhibit B. It was last Thanksgiving and she was cooking something that needed nutmeg. My mom—who is a good cook but doesn’t cook often—pointed her towards the spice rack and all was well. Or so we thought.

I’ll never forget the look on Melissa’s face as she told us the nutmeg might be a little out of date. How out of date you ask? The expiration was October…1981!!

But with three of us moving in with all of our stuff, the real problem is in the basement. My friends can tell you the horror stories about the basement. We cleaned it out about 15 years ago. It took a dozen people a full weekend and we filled up two industrial sized dumpsters. There was that much crap down there. But the hard part isn’t the work itself, its the differing manners in which the members of my family feel it should be dealt with.

My dad and I are eager to clean it out. And just so we’re clear, our version of “clean it out” translates into “throw EVERYTHING away.” But the mere thought of filling up a dumpster with bags of stuff that have been collecting dust for 20 years is just too much to bear for my mom.

Fifteen years ago it was hell. Each person who came up the stairs with a bag of trash had to let my mom inspect it before it was thrown away. And what looked like a bag of shit to me was anything but to my mom. She somehow found sentimental meaning in every single piece of crap we lugged out of that basement. That was my first backpack on my first day of school, that’s the blanket my brother threw up on in first grade, that’s my first-grade report card. My poor mother was in tears trying to catch everything while we attempted to find ways to sneak it past her so we could finish the job.

Fast forward 15 years and not much had changed. The basement is still a mess, my dad and I still want to throw everything away and my mom wants to hold onto everything. Case in point:

I saw an old headboard that doesn’t fit on any bed, so I had the crazy notion it was trash. Not so said my mom. When I asked her why she would possibly want to keep it, she inexplicably started crying and said “Don’t you realize there are children with no place to sleep??” I not-so-calmly pointed out that it was a headboard, not a bed, and the children would be mighty uncomfortable sleeping on it.

Then we found some really old textbooks and I went to throw those out. But my mom’s Spidey senses started tingling and she came over to stop me in my tracks. When I told her they were headed for the trash bin, she turned on the tears again.

“Why not donate them to a library? You should never throw away a book!”

These books were more than 10 years old. One was a marketing book which referred to the Internet as “an upcoming and exciting technological advancement.” They eventually got thrown out, but not without some hurt feelings. And of course, more tears.

If you’re keeping score at home, that’s tears over a headboard and antiquated textbooks. Not a good start.

But the kicker was my mom’s “donation pile.” She had us put a bunch of things in a pile at the end of the driveway. An old kitchen table, chairs, a desk, two bags of clothes and some other odds and ends. First my mom said the Boys & Girls Club was coming to get it. Then, halfway through Sunday, that was switched to the Epilepsy Foundation. My father expressed his concern that my mom hadn’t properly checked with them to make sure they would take everything, and we’d end up with a pile of shit that sits there for months. My mom said she had it taken care of. They were due to pick everything up Monday, and for all of our sanity I hoped it would go smoothly because my parents fight and bicker like—well, an old married couple.

When I got home from work it was still there. Or so we thought. Upon closer inspection, they actually did come. But they only took two bags of clothes and, just as my dad said, left the rest. A spirited discussion ensued. My dad saying he was right, my mom refusing to admit she was wrong and me feeling like nothing has changed since I was a kid.

In a weird way, it was the perfect welcome home.

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