Moxie Mom On Life and Kids

MOXIE MOM on Life & Kids

Car Accident Advice for Teens

I haven’t posted in forever, it seems (that chocolate cake was a month ago!), thanks in large part to a car accident two weeks ago, in which our car was totaled (low-value car), and the driver — me — escaped with minor whiplash. (No one else was in the car.) I’m thankful, of course, no one at the scene was hurt beyond whiplash. I have an inordinate fear of car accidents, and this was my first. I am grateful every day it wasn’t a high-speed collision.

However, shopping for cars is not what we had planned for December — never mind borrowing money, making multiple phone calls to insurance agents, claims adjusters, the loss department, and the rental company that told us our rental car was due (it wasn’t). Total headache. It could be worse, I know. I could have terminally ill children.

But right now I am thinking a lot about new drivers and the fact we will have one in our family in about two years, sooner than I would like. Yikes. And oh, baby, she can’t wait. But if, as a veteran driver, I wasn’t sure what to do at the scene of an accident, you can bet she won’t. It kinda freaks me out.

So here’s the cheat sheet I will be posting in our car, numbered in order of importance and laminated for durability. (I may also conduct surprise quizzes once her license is issued. Don’t tell her I said that.)

What To Do at the Accident Scene

1. Read this list before getting out of the car. (Okay, maybe that’s unrealistic.)

2. Don’t move your car from the scene of the collision, except perhaps to pull to the curb.  Even if it’s a minor accident, don’t park elsewhere to trade insurance information because people can change their stories, i.e., lie about what happened, and the police can’t help sort it out if you’ve moved the cars. (No one lied at my accident scene.)

3. Make sure everyone is okay. If not, call 911. (We didn’t have to do this.)

4. Grab a witness and take their info so you can contact them later. Better yet, have them hang around until the police arrive. (We had no witnesses because not a single person stopped to see if we were okay.)

5. Don’t talk about whose fault it is. Don’t argue. Don’t apologize. Don’t go there.

6. Call the police, even for a minor accident (see #5). Girls and boys, DO NOT let the other driver talk you out of it. It’s not a big deal to involve the police. All they do is take statements, fill out an accident report, and then you have the paper trail you need when it comes time to bargain for a settlement.

7. Take pictures of the damage to the cars. I will be putting an instant cardboard camera in the glove box when we get a new car. Of course, my daughter has a cell phone that she knows how to use.

8. Exchange insurance information with the other party. While you’re at it, do not say say you’re fine. Whiplash sets in later.

9. Call your insurance agent.

10. Somewhere in there, call Mom and Dad, preferably after you grab that witness.

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Heavenly Desserts

Last night, we took the kids to Pure Bliss Desserts on Cornwall Avenue just a few doors down from the Pickford. Have you been here yet? It just opened two weeks ago. I highly recommend it, especially for older kids (and younger kids who enjoy acting grownup for an hour).

My husband admitted it was a bit froofy for his taste, and, yeah, it does have a sophisticated feminine appeal with a black and pink theme throughout that Leah and I particularly liked. But the chocolate trumped any décor opinions. You can order yourself a hefty slice of chocolate cake big enough for two or three, although my kids put serious dents in their slices before they asked for help. My favorite was the peppermint patty chocolate cake, but there’s also creamy coconut (next time) or German chocolate or triple chocolate or… if you’re not a fan of chocolate, try the gourmet cookies and dessert bars. I’m betting the choices change often, but I forgot to ask. Anyway, it’s all great.

And, for the best of all worlds, Chocolate Necessities is right next door. After we ate our cake, we stopped in to see what they offer—we never managed to visit while they were at the Public Market—and we taste tested their yummy gelato. Have you seen the chocolates here? How did we not know about them until last night? They are pure artistry at work: chocolate high-heeled pumps, instruments, dogs, motocycles, turkeys, and the quaintest little cottage you ever did see.

So if you’re looking for a special treat with your kids (or without them), I recommend dessert at this pair of delectable Bellingham establishments. And for those who don’t live here, well, you’ll just have to come visit.

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Slacker Advice for Halloween

Halloween is coming and I know some parents out there are stressing about the amount of sugar their kids are going to ingest. It’s a yearly topic. I bring it up because I came across this blog, Spoonfed, with a post on how this family handles Halloween (look for “Candy insanity: Halloween here we come.”) 

Okay, I’m truly a slacker parent—the votes are all in. Here’s why: we let the kids eat their Halloween candy. No night sprite comes to trade toys for candy in the middle of the night (I’m way too cheap for that). We don’t throw out the candy after the kids go to bed, and I didn’t throw it out when they were young, either—my husband and I prefer to help ourselves and hope the kids don’t notice. We don’t separate candy by health quality, we (they) separate by type of candy—an important ritual—and they eat it. We don’t hand out toys to kids at the door because we get too many kids in our neighborhood (see cheap, above).

I know sugar is rampant. As are chemicals. The Spoonfed blogger is more concerned with chemicals than sugar, and I’m right there with her. And I get she’s just trying to dialogue on health with her kids. I applaud her energy.

I also know what happens when you ban kids from the sweet stuff (or television or polyester or skateboarding). They crave it all the more, and you run the risk of creating, or at least contributing to, food fixations and even eating disorders. Really, I know adults in this boat. I’ve also seen kids get pretty bossy and judgmental with their candy-eating peers, and who needs that?

But mostly, I’m just trying to walk a line. When I was a kid, our sugar consumption was seriously controlled. In fact, my dad told the local store owner—we had exactly one store in our community—not to sell candy to me and my sisters. I didn’t know about the edict until I tried to buy candy one day (I was about 10) and the store clerk had to break the news. He was embarrassed, and I was mortified. After that, when my friends bought candy, I would feign disinterest in the sweet stuff and buy an apple instead because I was too embarrassed to admit my parents’ sugar ethic. My sister? She took to stealing candy and hiding it in her dresser drawer.

So, I’m all for feeding kids a healthy diet, but I don’t go overboard on the control issues. Call me a slacker, but I have put some thought into this. When Ty was 3, we let him “eat” all his candy in one night, about 15 pieces (incidentally, your dentist will agree this is better for your kid’s teeth). Ty opened every piece, took one bite, and put it aside. Okay, yes, I did throw it all away when he went to bed. But he thought he’d gorged on candy, and the issue was over. The reality is I’m just too lazy to monitor and negotiate candy for weeks on end. Slacker.

These days, I don’t have any say in what the kids eat on Halloween (and they’re quicker to notice declines in their candy stash)—nor do I think I should be controlling a 13-year-old’s choices. She needs to figure that out. But I do remind her to brush her teeth. And my kids are quick to spot the difference between fun food and healthy food (Leah told me recently our house was healthy but not crazy healthy. I think she meant it as a compliment). They eat vegetables and fruit, and they steadfastly refuse to eat hot lunch at school.

Personally, I say trick-or-treat to fewer houses when your kids are young and skip the downtown business trick-or-treat scene. The best way to cut down on candy is not to bring it into the house at all.

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For Education’s Sake

Voter ballots are being mailed soon. If you are as big a fan of public education as I am, and you are as concerned about the future of public school funding as I am, you might want to check out the information on the League of Education Voters (LEV) website. You’ll find everything you need to know about the initiatives and candidates that support education.

Who is LEV? It is a political action committee comprised of educators, policy makers, parents, students, and community leaders that advocates for education.

Here’s what they do in their own words: “At LEV, we believe reforms plus resources are the keys to improving outcomes for children.  That’s why we wrote and passed Initiative 728 in 2000 to lower class sizes and provide more learning opportunities like preschool and all-day kindergarten for students.  I-728 was just the beginning.  LEV was founded one year later to ensure state lawmakers fulfilled their promises and the will of the voters.  LEV has successfully passed a statewide initiative, worked to pass two constitutional amendments, defended an important education revenue source and pushed for the creation of a seamless public education system.”

There’s a lot at stake for our kids this election. It’s worth reading up.

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Tween Buying Power

Last night, Ty told us at dinner he was absolutely desperate to buy a certain video game—the name of it escapes me now, or perhaps he never told us. It was the need that was the focus of the conversation, not the actual product.

Today, I haven’t heard a word about it. It doesn’t mean he’s forgotten, but it might mean just that (one can hope). If he hasn’t forgotten, he’ll be ponying up his own allowance if he’s that desperate. A weekly allowance is how we’ve taken ourselves out of the can-I-have equation. But there are other ways.

I came across this article on tween buying power, How to Hype-Proof Your Tween by Jeffrey Kluger, and I was shocked to learn 20 million tweens spend $50 billion dollars a year. And that’s not their parents’ money. Holy cow. I thought the country was in an economic slump.

If your tweener is lobbying for the latest fashions (mine just started this year, and his fashion-conscious sister is fully supportive), or the latest techno gadget, or a new Wii game, Kluger has some suggestions. He offers up some websites to help kids learn about ad hype, and he also acknowledges that we parents are all prey to caving—yep. He also tells us why it’s good to say no. Worth the read, especially if you haven’t completed your school shopping yet.

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