Thursday open thread

We have an open thread today, open to any topics on your mind.

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99 thoughts on “Thursday open thread

  1. A topic I thought of for open discussion day, but not sufficient to merit an independent post:

    The other day I mentioned an old friend who, with a young family of six, is taking a year off to circumnavigate the globe on a sailboat. They’re currently in the Sea of Cortez.

    When I mentioned this to a friend I keep in regular Messenger chat contact with (and am finally going to spend a long weekend with this summer! yay!), he said “I saw that, and did you see [this other guy we know] announce on FB that he’s taking a gap year? WTF?” [This second person does not have children.]

    So the topic is adult gap years. Most likely why are you so boring that you haven’t done it? What would you want to do if you could, or had to?

    Me…I think the plan is obvious. The reasons I haven’t are time value of money, health insurance costs, and doubt that I could put my job on hold for a year, or apprehension about what I’d return to.

  2. Adult Gap Year – I think this option is influenced by your career choice. It seems this works in one of three ways. (1) You work for an organization that has a specific policy that allows/encourages sabbaticals. (2) You/your skills are in high demand and taking a gap year will not affect your marketability to find an equal or better job when you return. (3) You are making a transition anyway, so delaying it to incorporate a gap year (even better if gap year activities make you more marketable) doesn’t make much difference.

  3. I dunno, I like my life as it is, and I really have no desire to take a year away from it. A little vacation here and there, sure, but an extended period of time away — no. I may be a little unusual in that I lived overseas for five years post-college, and traveled extensively during those years, so I feel like I’ve already scratched the itch to go abroad for long stretches of time.

  4. NoB, you wouldn’t have to travel in a gap year. You could get involved in projects or whatnot in your home area.

    Even if you can meet the any of Austin’s criteria, there is still the issue of having enough money saved up to fund it.

  5. If I take a gap year, I wouldn’t want to back to my current job or another one like it. I would use it to travel and train for something different.
    I could do this only when my kids are on their own and I don’t have to support them financially.

  6. I fantasize about a gap year. I have a few FB friends from high school that are professors (or are married to one) and have done/are doing sabbaticals. I would love to take a year off to travel the US by RV and see the different parks, etc. I think it would be great for a kid to do a homeschooling year that way (~12 year old). Only way it would happen would be 1) if I won the lottery, 2) got laid off with a massive severance package, or 3) huge mid-life crisis. Money is the concern. I had a neighbor who got laid off with a big package (her group was consolidated to another city and she had 10+ years there). She took time off with the justification “I’ve worked since I was 16, I need this.” I only noticed as she was home in the middle of the day. She had already 6 months off and hadn’t started looking for a new job yet. When laid off, market was good, but by the time she started looking, a downturn had arrived. Fortunately, her house appreciated by at least $150K, so she sold it when things started to get tight. Not sure what happened after the move.

  7. No desire for a gap year here – I love the routine we’re in right now.

    I’m trying to plan a dinner party – have not hosted anything in months (since last fall maybe?). Invited 6 people (3 couples) before remembered I hadn’t cleared the date with DH. Luckily was all good with him. Waiting to see who can come before I invite additional people.

  8. On the gap year, sure great idea and lousy idea for me for all the reasons stated.

    At this point I have begun seriously looking forward to my next adventure, ~5-6 years out, that will be a permanent gap. But other than being confident our financial house is in order looking forward is about all I have done.

  9. What are you going to serve, Lark?

    So far this: https://www.southernliving.com/recipes/shrimp-orzo-salad (I think I posted this a few weeks ago when I first made it) and deviled eggs. I need a meat as well, not sure about that yet. Ham would go best but 2 weeks after Easter who can look at ham again? When someone says “what can I bring” I’ll assign that person dessert.

  10. Waiting to see who can come before I invite additional people.

    This drives me bonkers. I haven’t figured out a polite way to tell people we need to know by a certain date, so we’re left hanging. Then we invite more people because we assume the ones who haven’t confirmed aren’t going to come, and it turns out they can come. So we end up with more people than we were planning on. I’m of the mind that there’s always room for a couple more at the table, and we always have way too much food, so it’s not a huge deal in the end. But sometimes I’d like to plan for 10 people and end up with 10 people instead of 15.

  11. “I haven’t figured out a polite way to tell people we need to know by a certain date, so we’re left hanging. ”

    I’ve become a bit hard nosed about this. “Please let me know by X date because we want to plan ahead.” If they continue to waffle for no good reason I’ll just tell them I’m sorry they can’t come but maybe next time.

    We’re making mass quantities of meatballs, some to freeze and some for Easter Sunday. From this board I got the idea to incorporate sausage into the mix so now I’ll see if my Italian chef/husband will agree to this.

  12. So we end up with more people than we were planning on.

    Yes, especially because I always do a seated dinner. Our table seats 12 people with the leaves in, or 8 without. We can do 10 with the leaves in, but the spacing ends up a little awkward, so I really prefer either 8 or 12. 2 couples have already committed yes. One is a maybe but she has a good reason – waiting for her son’s LAX game schedule which she’ll get next week (also I run with her so easy enough to follow up). She also texted back “sorry to be flaky” so she gets it – she’s a frequent hostess herself.

  13. Ah, the grown-up gap year — my favorite fantasy. Especially because this next year is the last “clear” chance to take one for the next @5 (DD gone, DS in 8th grade, so no HS yet).

    So I think my dream would be travel, travel, travel. First around the US, up to Alaska, then down the west side of South America, Hawaii/the South Pacific/Asia for some serious scuba, then complete the circle through India, South Africa, and finish up in Europe. My dream plan would include something like a converted camper van with a mini-fridge, mini-stove, and toilet (like the VW camper van) — but we would mostly plan to stay in apartments or hotels along the way. The van would be there to free us up from required food-and-bathroom stops and to provide a crash pad in the event we couldn’t find a place to stay or wanted to overnight in the middle of nowhere, but would also be small enough to drive comfortably on smaller roads.

    And then the getting from continent to continent would be by boat as much as possible.

  14. On the gap year discussion and others we have had in the past, health insurance has become the focus of the work life plans of most post 26 pre 65 adults of my acquaintance. Even my ninja competitor stepson, who has been working at a Training gym for the insurance but has just made a new and actually feasible plan to quit and never do a birthday party of vacation camp again. He is going to join Screen Actors Guild and become a stunt man. He is already a non union extra on the NY filmed cop shows and is close friends with regionally influential stunt men through his competitions. He is dark ethnic so can play all sorts of villains and bystanders. Younger son of mine went W2 contractor for the family insurance. Older son is considering putting in 10 years on a state job to qualify for ins to cover his family until medicare kicks in. Younger daughter is Civil Service. Older daughter and her business are firmly settled in MA where Romney care is on the books even if Obama care is discarded.

    So that is the constraint if it isnt a formal sabbatical or if the family doesnt have military or govt retiree coverage.

  15. “He is going to join Screen Actors Guild and become a stunt man.”

    That’s so cool, Meme. Does he already qualify for SAG membership, or does he still need to find a qualifying gig?

  16. Meme, ditto. Although I think we could get covered through DH’s business, I just haven’t looked into it – it might be less hassle than I think it would be but I get overwhelmed when trying to look at options (and then the mass health connector said I needed to come in in person to prove my identity, wtf?).

  17. Of the two examples I mentioned, I don’t know what they’re doing for health insurance. They would not be eligible for any federal government employment option.

  18. I have a non-gap year related question.

    We are thinking of a plane trip this summer with both kiddos (2 and 4; both between 30 and 35 lbs).

    Do we (a) bring their car seats to have the kids strapped in on the plane (even though they are convertible seats and ridiculously heavy) (b) gate check those beasts (the seats, not the kids) (c) rent car seats when we get to our destination?

    Note – the plane trip will require a lay-over.

  19. I usually meet my college friends for a girls weekend every other year. We had a plan for October of this year, but one of the women just told us that she is pulling her 8th grader our of school to visit in older sister in Singapore. She has four kids and the 8th grader is the youngest, so she is going to pull her to visit the other kid in Singapore and then they will travel around Asia/Australia for a few months. A mini sabbatical with health care provided by her DH since he will stay home for most of the time due to work.

    I’m driving my neighbor’s kids next week because their son is studying in Hong Kong. I didn’t realize that there were so many options for these study abroad programs vs. when I was a student.

    I wish I could have a vacation from this staycation week. Another day in the city, and another day of cool weather. A nasty mood from DD to match this weather. The fun really begins this weekend as we spend all weekend with our families to celebrate the holidays.

  20. NoB. I think he has to pay a fee first register and get the qualifying gigs after. He is going to Cobra until the end of the year.

  21. Rhode, I would just rent car seats when you get there. They are big enough they don’t need them on the plane, and bringing the seats would be a huge PITA.

  22. Lauren…the double edged sword. You’ve said before you’ve stayed in the NYC area because of all your families being around, the plus side, but your “The fun really begins this weekend as we spend all weekend with our families to celebrate the holidays.” is why DW has always refused to move ‘back home’.

  23. We aren’t going to MIL’s for Easter this year like we usually do, and I am bit sad about it because we usually see the other kid cousins at Easter. We can’t do it this year because DS1 has to get back to campus on Sunday – there is no way we could go to MILs in CT and then get him back to campus at any decent hour.

  24. A bunch of the kids from the high school are in Europe this week for a school sponsored tour. I was out for dinner last night with a mom friend whose kid is on the trip, and she told me they had visited Notre Dame one day before the fire…

  25. I suspect DD and Fred have never rented car seats. They tend to be quite expensive and dirty. $10/day x 2 kids x 5 days gets you two new cheap seats.

    I would check the seats. I started using the belted boosters for rental car travel when my kids were 2. The boosters tend to facilitate seat kicking on the air plane and are a huge hassle on the plane.

    Alternatively, take an Uber to Walmart at your destination and buy two cheap seats when you arrive. Check them home. Usually airlines don’t charge for checking car seats.

  26. SM – I’m sure there’s at least some causative aspect to it, as space is nice, but it can’t avoid the fact that it’s observing a correlating factor that says people with more resources tend to also have happier relationships.

    Unless they’re going to assign random couples to live in spaces of various size…

  27. Ada, when we needed car seats on a trip, we just bought them at the destination and left them behind because it was cheaper than renting them.

  28. We gate check car seats ’cause we’re cheap. My twins got promoted to boosters a few months early for a drive to Iowa because hauling a regular car seat (vs. infant car seat) was too much hassle.

    See Freakonomics for how-much-car-seat-actually-help statistics and you’ll understand my laziness.

  29. Every time our family returns from a camping trip, I thank my lucky stars for our spacious house. I’ll leave the Tiny Houses to the Tiny House people…

  30. I don’t think car seats really work as an efficient rental because the low volume and bulky size, for a relatively cheap product, don’t make much sense. Netflix subscription service works for DVDs, but not VHS cassettes.

    One thing I’d do if I were Rhode is grant the 4 yo a battlefield promotion (that means temporary) to booster. Easier, lighter, cheaper regardless of how you acquire it.

  31. We used to check carseats when traveling, but we were very ready to substitute a booster for a kid who was maybe not quite as old as recommended but was of a reasonable size for one. And we always brought along the Mighty-Tite, which one caused an extra bag search at security — apparently when tucked up against an electronics-filled toy parrot it looked like a suspicious device.

  32. Mooshi – does he not take transport back to school? I always took buses/planes/trains to get home from school.

    Rhode – second Milo’s suggestion of temporary assignment to booster. We did that for #3 when we went to Disney so all 3 were in boosters (she was 3 and probably 30 or 35 lbs).

  33. See Freakonomics for how-much-car-seat-actually-help statistics and you’ll understand my laziness.

    Oh, I’ll have to look into that. I find the Jonathan Edwards-style moralizing about car seats annoying.

  34. Unless they’re going to assign random couples to live in spaces of various size…

    Have your girl call my girl and we’ll take a meeting with TLC to pitch the idea.

  35. In Rhodes case, temporary assignment to booster may not be a good idea. You must sit in car seat is all or nothing for some kids. Grandpa was living in France and when we were visiting insisted that 4 year old oppositional boy did not need to use a pissoir, but just go outside, with predictable results on return to US.

  36. “Oh, I’ll have to look into that. I find the Jonathan Edwards-style moralizing about car seats annoying.”

    For me, it’s not so much the moralizing, but the blind faith (not in this group) to the Rules such that strict compliance is Safe and any deviation is Unsafe. Totally binary. No appreciation or understanding of sliding scale and margin and probable risk quantification, etc.

    “Well, the AAP recommends X, Y until Z pounds and A inches and B years…”

  37. Thanks for the advice.

    AAA offers one free car seat rental with their membership so one idea would be to rent the older kiddo a seat upon arrival. My friend did this and recommended the process. We’d bring a seat for the younger one. Probably gate check.

    I need to call the folks we are thinking of visiting. They have grandsons the same age as my kids and may have seats we can borrow.

    I worry about a battle field promotion for the oldest. He’s just super tiny. Long but tiny. I don’t even know if he’s heavy enough for a high back booster…

    I’m a rule follower with car seats. My oldest only forward faced when he hit 30 lbs and I’m doing the same with the younger. He’s probably 30 lbs today and is still rear facing.

    I miss the buy plane tix and figure it out when I get there days… :)

  38. Apparently I’m an outlier WRT car seats, but when our kids needed them, we’d take them on the plane with us and install them. If you do that, make sure the stickers indicating the seats are FAA approved are still stuck on the seats.

    I’ll also second Ada on WRT concerns about the condition of rental seats. I’ve seen stacks of them at local car rental outlets, under roofs but not inside, so they’re exposed to a lot of sun; imagine what that daily UV exposure does to the plastic, not to mention what being outside means for the cleanliness of those seats.

  39. Milo, I highly doubt they controlled for income level (your way of don’t that sounds a lot more,,,,interesting than standard statistical methods) and honestly, they must have mostly included people with good-sized incomes. Millennials with 1500 sf or baby boomers with 1600 are the lower end, and that’s a lot of space for most people to pay for.

    WCE, good lord, this is a tiny house to you? It’s bigger than what most people lived in through most of history. I recall that at one point you were having three of your kids bunk together—are you still in the same digs, or is that the spacious house you just mentioned.

    Does anyone else on here live in under 1200 sf?

  40. Rhode, in car seats, I completely agree with Ada. I can only recall one time I reserved one to rent with the car. When we we t to pick it up, wasn’t there. The guy at the counter just shrugged & said they were all out. I made enough of a fuss that they went and dig around, eventually came up with an infant seat for my 3-year-old. You can get a simple one inexpensively. Do a little homework ahead of time to find a place to donate when you’re done

  41. FWIW – we always went with the rental car seats. They were clean and in good condition.
    When my brother was visiting last summer from overseas, I bought my niece a booster for $19 from WalMart. In addition to all their luggage, bringing a booster was not practical. I would have suggested no car seat, just sit the kid in the back of the minivan, which I did with my own kids at that age, but my brother and SIL would have been worried. When they rented a car in Spain, even their 10 yr old had to be a booster.

  42. “even their 10 yr old had to be a booster.”
    Doesn’t it depend on size? My kid is big, so iirc, he was out of booster seats by around 6 years old. I’m not sure, just remember that the size guideline had him out of one considerably earlier than the age guideline, and I figured it was more important.

  43. SM – “THEY” like to claim that it’s a function of both size and bone density, which is supposedly a function of age. Maybe there’s something to that, or maybe THEY just needed some irrefutable response to the inevitable arguments of “my MIL is 4’11”, should I put HER in a booster???

  44. SM – my BIL a few years ago bought a house built in the 1880s in one most quickly gentrifying cities in the country. It had since been turned into a duplex, so neither unit had the most efficient layout for the roughly 700 or 800 sf sf they each got. Still, it’s been a good investment, and pretty soon the rent he was collecting from downstairs was covering his mortgage payment on the whole thing.

    Until recently, he was living in the upstairs unit with his DW and 1 yo and 60 lb dog. They’re troopers, but it was tight, especiallly exacerbated by the floor plan that made one of the two bedrooms the largest room in the house.

    So they recently decamped to a standard 3000 sf new construction house in the suburbs, and rented both units in f the old place.

    With a young child, it’s limiting. We couldn’t pass on the plastic Fisher Price slide and climbing platform, the plastic front door with all those doorbells and switches and mailboxes and windows. Now we can send down EVERYTHING!! ;)

    “Millennials with 1500 sf or baby boomers with 1600 are the lower end, and that’s a lot of space for most people to pay for.”

    The average new construction residence is about 2600 sf now. (Is that just houses, or including apartments? Not sure probably just houses.) And baby boomers ought to be the richest group in the country currently.

  45. Apparently I’m an outlier WRT car seats, but when our kids needed them, we’d take them on the plane with us and install them.

    We did when they were in the infant seats.

  46. I did a bit more research last night… apparently, both my kids are big enough for high back boosters with 5 pt harnesses. I did find a fairly cheap one (~$65) which is also super light (11 lbs!!) and FAA certified (I looked at the manual for “how to install in an aircraft” to be doubly sure). If we decide to go that route, we’ll purchase those. Thanks all!

    S&M – uh, I have a family of 5 and 1 dog living in <1500 sq feet. According to that article, my marriage is miserable and I should head to divorce court.

  47. Our family of three plus pets (1-3) live in a 1500 sq ft. home. It is plenty big for us. It’s a 100+ year old house, but the layout is pretty good. It has a nice spacious downstairs (LR + DR + sunroom). We all have our little zones, so we spent all our free time in the same area, but not necessarily interacting with each other. We only use the bedrooms upstairs to sleep. I love it! It’s easy to have natural conversations about whatever pops in our heads. The only negative is that we have to keep the TV viewing PG until DD goes to bed.

    We have thought about finishing our basement, but I don’t want to mess up the togetherness we have now.

  48. Growing up, my family of four plus one dog lived in 1,100 sq. ft. It had been 900, but the year I was born my parents extended the kitchenette into a kitchen and added a bathroom. The bathroom apparently helped save the marriage. I didn’t mind it, because it was all I knew, but my mom was constantly fussing and putting things away as best she could and cleaning up and feeling very cramped. Since the weather is generally good in the Bay Area, I spend a lot of time in the back yard and the “back-back”, the empty lot behind the back yard. (It wasn’t empty! It had trees and weeds and bugs and all kinds of fascinating things!)

    When I grew up and came back to visit, I was always startled at how small the rooms were and how you were always in everyone else’s way.

  49. SM I agree that 1800 sq feet is huge for 2 people. With DD occupying the basement apt she has about 650 sq ft full bath but use of the upstairs kitchen we have 1400 living space and 1 and 1/2 baths for the two of us on 2 floors which is spacious. (When the grand piano returns from storage and refurb to the living room I may not find it so spacious.) Levittown houses in the 50s for families ran from 750 sq ft to 1100 sq ft. OTOH I had a family of 6 in 1500 sq ft with one bathroom and that did not allow for sufficient personal space and made things tougher in those days. If I become a widow with one cat and decide to go to a flat I will prioritize location so 700 sq ft. should be plenty.

  50. Square feet vs. layout. Our “old” house had just under 1500 square feet split about 50/50 between beds/baths and communal living/dining/kitchen. The issue was layout. If we could have added 1 more bedroom (or similar size) that could be adjacent to the communal living space, but a bit quieter, would have been perfect. We looked at houses that were 1800 square feet (generally they added a bedroom and a kitchen eating area), but they were cut up into small rooms that felt much more cramped than the “old” house. We live in 2200 square feet, which has always been a bit too much, but the layout is much better. We used the dining room for a “study area” when the DDs were small – could supervise them from the kitchen – and tv was watched upstairs in the family room.

  51. I grew up in this house: https://www.zillow.com/homedetails/3399-Reed-Way-Concord-CA-94518/18339671_zpid/ until I was 13 (but I had a basketball hoop above the garage door). Somebody after us put in the central air. It was plenty big for our family of 4, then 3. There was/is a giant park 4-5 houses up the street where my friends and I hung out, played pickup football and baseball when we weren’t play basketball at my place or one of theirs. Then my mom remarried, we moved into a house with 2x the sq footage and my room was in the basement, off of what we used as the family room, so there was a lot more privacy for me at least.

  52. Oh, and our current house is 2800 sf (excludes 2/3 finished basement. Total basement ~1500sf). The 2800sf includes the living & dining rooms on one side of the main floor and, natch, we mostly use them to gather dust on the furniture we use a few times a year. They are probably 400sf of wasted space. Not because of the layout, it’s just how colonials were built. Everyone’s house in our social group is pretty much the same general layout; except for a few of us we’re all corporate relos to here and I think we all got the same ‘it’ll sell again someday’ design.

    And of course we really do not need 4 bedrooms upstairs anymore, or at least very often. But I’m not moving anytime soon.

  53. I have been missing this place.
    Rhode, I can tell you what we did. We took the car seat once with us and and navigating with it and stroller around airports was such a headache leading to overall bitchiness that the next time around we decided just buy car seats at Walmart. The Cisco ones. They are super cheap with no frills. I wouldn’t use them for regular use, but we were okay it on vacation. Once we barely used the seat and so we returned, the next two times we donated to the local goodwill or left it in the car and then it started getting expensive. Then one time we bought five point booster at destination and kept it. Now we did take it with us as it is lightweight.

    Get one of those belts that allow you to tie the seat to your roller luggage.

  54. I feel like I could dedicate a whole day to talking about car seats, the religion of compliance and its shamans. My understanding (and I’m no expert, but as informed as thecarseatlady.com, and I was a NMSF): buckling a seatbelt around a person is 90% of the risk reduction, car seat is a few percent, right car seat a few more percent. Car seat and right car seat are more important for infants, but not as much as everyone believes. So, I never, ever let the kids out of a seatbelt, but often let them ride in only a seatbelt. And I went to belted, low-back boosters for convenience before most totebaggers. We have three cars and three kids; way not organized enough to manage shuffling multiple seats.

    I made the kids all use appropriate boosters on our recent Western Park Journey ™. When my kids asked why, I explained: while the majority of car accidents happen <5 miles from home, the majority of morbidity and mortality happens on the freeway. Our 2400 mile road trip was mostly at 80mph pulling a trailer – so much more risk than the 25mph school pick-up route. I think there is nuance, and I think there can be variation in how these things are implemented. Maybe my kids can't appreciate this, but I am a dictator in my own car, so it doesn't matter if they agree.

    A central statistic in this discussion is that more than half of all pediatric car fatalities had NO RESTRAINT. None. I find that mind boggling. Instead of getting all worked up about backless booster vs high-back vs seat-belt positioner, maybe we should just make sure every single person in the car is belted.

  55. “When they rented a car in Spain, even their 10 yr old had to be a booster.”

    This was 20 years ago, but we bumped along in the back seat of taxis in Spain holding my toddler in my lap through busy city streets and curving country roads. No car seats available and we didn’t lug around the one we had brought on the plane as we went sightseeing. We had similar issues in taxis in the US, certainly in NYC.

    What do parents of babies and young kids do these days in other countries and in the US when riding taxis? Are they commonly available? IIRC you can get Uber/Lyft cars with carseats, but are they commonly available?

  56. There is a ton of crazy magical thinking (in the forums and blogs dedicated to the issue) about how washing car seat straps ruins them, checking car seats ruins them, etc. And don’t get me started on “expiration dates”.

    I’m surprised any body has donated car seats – in general they can never be accepted as a donation. Here, they require that you cut the straps before sending them to the trash so that no one accidentally steals and uses them.

    On the other hand, I was confessing to a local mom about my deviant car-seat practices (the kids just in belts!!) and she totally got it. And then said that she drives cross state and lets her 10 year old sleep in the back seat with no belt on. Because she figures the blankets and pillows will protect her in any kind of accident. And then I was sad about the state of physics education in America and was horrified – that is exactly the set up for preventable death. I guess there is rationale behind these blind rules – many people can’t understand the distinctions.

  57. Also, (I think I have posted on this a half-dozen times, but clearly I am a bit fixated) – best evidence has 9 year olds (and maybe 7+) sitting in the front seat. Despite a high-quality study that shows that in new cars (model year 2000+) older kids are safest in the front seat, no one has jumped on that bandwagon. It does not fit our narrative of “we must do more!” There are probably preventable deaths each year due to failure to implement a change in rules on this. However, the back seat stuff is so sacred it has been enshrined in law.

  58. Relative risk of death was lower for restrained children up to age 8 in the rear compared with passengers in the right front seat (RR=0.27, 95% CI 0.12-0.58 for 0-3 years, RR=0.55, 95% CI 0.30-0.98 for 4-8 years) but was higher for restrained 9-12-year-old children (RR=1.83, 95% CI 1.18-2.84).

    Results of this study extend prior research on the relative safety of the rear seat compared with the front by examining a more contemporary fleet of vehicles. The rear row is primarily occupied by children and adolescents, but the variable relative risk of death in the rear compared with the front seat for occupants of different age groups highlights the challenges in providing optimal protection to a wide range of rear seat occupants. Findings of an elevated risk of death for rear row occupants, as compared with front row passengers, in the newest model year vehicles provides further evidence that rear seat safety is not keeping pace with advances in the front seat.

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25912100

    Contrast that with: “Children under age 13 should ride properly buckled in the back seat on every trip” from the CDC.

  59. We live in 1400 square feet now, and it is big enough 99% of the time with three. When it was just the two of us, we never, ever went in the 2nd bedroom and never felt crowded. They layout probably matters more than the space. But I’ve never lived in a large house. The house I grew up in was probably 1500 sq ft including the semi-finished basement, and we had 5 people and one bathroom. THAT felt too small. It also only had two real bedrooms for the 5 of us, so as the only girl child, I ended up in random rooms that weren’t really made to be bedrooms.

    @Rhode – We always checked car seats – not gate-checked, checked-checked. I bought a cheap bag to put it in, but most airlines have plastic bags that they will give you as well. Who wants to lug those to the gate? UGH. Agree with Ada that the rentals leave a lot to be desired. DO NOT bring them on the plane. It is a massive PITA for all involved.

    I have never fantasized about a gap year, really. At this point in my life, that would just entail being a SAHM. Sure it would be nice to be able to join a daytime tennis league and join some other activities that I am currently not doing due to time constraints, but I’d really rather retire early as an empty nester once we can both retire & are out of the school obligation years. I do have child-free colleagues that have done it, and it looks like a lot of fun for them. One old coworker is on Year 4 of world travel – her Instagram is incredible. But she does sleep in hostels and ride on buses for 24 hours, so I far prefer seeing her photos & hearing about her experiences while sleeping in my comfortable bed and lounging on my comfortable couch.

  60. “What do parents of babies and young kids do these days in other countries and in the US when riding taxis?”

    We have always just had him ride in them like we do – unrestrained. For Ubers, if we can, we’ll buckle up, but taxis have always been problematic that way. It’s not like we are taking them everyday – I take the risk. According to the car seat gestapo, this makes me a horrible parent, but i got over the judgey guilt from that crowd a long time ago. (So Ada +1 on that front.)

    DS is almost 11, and he still has a booster in our car. I find the shoulder belt in our backseat uncomfortable – it rubs on my neck at the wrong part due to my height (5’3″) – so I see why he prefers it. He doesn’t seem to care if it is “babyish” or anything like that – he is not the least embarrassed to use it even if friends are in the car. We’ll see if that lasts. He’ll sit in just a regular seat belt in other cars. One of these days, we’ll buy a new car anyway, and one thing I want is a more comfortable backseat.

  61. @Rhode: we had a baby bucket that snapped into the stroller, so we used that. When DD got too big for that, we had a car seat with straps long enough that I could wear it as a backpack in the airport. I kept her in the car seat on the plane until she was big enough that she couldn’t help but kick the seat in front. Then I used the “battlefield promotion” route to induce good behavior on her first overnight flight – basically, I told her we thought she was big enough to sit on her own, but only if she stayed buckled and behaved, and if she misbehaved, we’d need to get the car seat again (which we had gate-checked, but what did she know?). YMMV. She was also tall, so by the time she was old enough for a booster with regular seat belt arrangement, we went right to the backless variety. With your kids, I’d probably suck it up and schlepp the stupid things, just because they are a little smaller (I had one Wilt Chamberlain and one linebacker, so my only question was how soon I could get away with getting them out of seats they barely fit in anymore).

    Space: I apparently like more than average. I was very happy in my @1400’ condo by myself, and that would have worked fine with DH too. With the kids, we could have been fine in our 2700’ in CO, and with a slightly improved design could probably have done with a few hundred feet less. But the key in both cases was the open-plan living. I really hate designs where it seems like half the space is taken up with halls, and the rest is chopped up into little rooms. I much prefer an open living/dining/kitchen area, and then a separate closed-off area for work. But the key is the great room must feel comfortably spacious, with high or vaulted ceilings, lots of windows, and plenty of room for separate living and dining areas. My current house is inefficient, because the kitchen is separate from the living area and there is a separate dining room and two living rooms; we could easily knock out 1/3 the space and be fine with a better layout. But at least the hall space isn’t super long, and I do love the generous size of the kids’ bedrooms.

    I also agree with Milo’s analysis of the survey. Since most people buy as much space as they can afford, it seems likely that, on average, the people in the larger spaces were wealthier than the people in the smaller spaces, and wealthier people generally also tend to be happier in their relationships. The article seems to be suggestion a causal relationship between space and happiness, when in reality the causal link is between both of the factors in the study and a third factor that was not.

  62. Ada, fantastic information on car seats, thank you.

    Now for some non-scientific anecdata. When taking lunch hour runs in the small city where I work, I have seen unrestrained children sitting on the laps of adults in the front passenger seat of cars. It seems most common in the neighborhoods directly adjacent to the two hospitals that we run past. Those may contribute to the unrestrained pediatric deaths you cite.

    DH is in emergency services. On his mental list of worst calls was a low-speed crash with an infant death. Grandmother took infant grandchild out of carseat due to crying and was holding infant in front seat when the crash occurred.

  63. @Ada – ITA. I also think that the rule-makers overlook the reality that the harder you make it to fully comply with a rule, the more likely people are just to say screw it and ignore the whole thing. Any kind of rational analysis would have to weigh the incremental good from the new rule against the negatives associated with lower compliance rates. A/k/a don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

  64. I’d forgotten about the issues with donating car seats. We left the first one at my parents’ house because they somehow wanted it for another grandchild who is 6 mos older. I think he went from that straight to a booster, which was given to a neighbor. (If there was one in the middle, it was probably sold with the vehicle in Texas when we moved to Germany). So you can’t “do homework” about donating them, but hotel staff might informally be able to find somebody who could use one. No tax write-off, but we’re probably talking about less than you pay for a family dinner out.

  65. We have always just had him ride in them like we do – unrestrained. For Ubers, if we can, we’ll buckle up, but taxis have always been problematic that way.

    This is one of those things that had made me a fan of Uber and Lyft. Taxis rarely have a full set of functioning seat belts and there seems to be some personal offense involved if trying to use a car seat or booster, or heavens forbid, wanting to use the buckles that are stuck in the seats. I’ve never had that attitude with Uber and I’ve never had absent or non-functioning seatbelts.

    (I know, I know, the cab drivers all have job security, 401ks, and great health insurance, so I should be riding with them instead).

  66. “When taking lunch hour runs in the small city where I work, I have seen unrestrained children sitting on the laps of adults in the front passenger seat of cars. ”

    Yes, I see this occasionally too.

    Yet, the busybody mom crowd that helps with school drop off runs to the principal over kindergartners in perfectly legal booster seats because “they’d really be safer in a 5-point harness, the moms probably don’t realize the risk they are taking.” I don’t know for sure, but at some point, they stopped letting parents volunteer for carline in the morning, and I suspect this was part of the reason.

    @Rhode – Don’t forget to check the law for the states you will be driving in. Some are more prescriptive than others. Most will be vague – “must be in appropriate child restraint up to age 8”.

  67. I’ve always donated car seats unofficially, often through classifieds at work where people list all kinds of stuff. Usually they go to grandparents who are willing to pick up a free one for occasional use.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if you left it with the rental car agent who checks you in, if he wouldn’t quickly find a new home for it like that.

  68. Thanks all!

    Ada – thanks for the information. I know you’re my go-to source! I’m probably over-thinking this whole thing, and spending the $130 on 2 seats that can get destroyed with travel is a good investment.

    Ivy – looking at TX! Very vague laws. It was so much easier when you met DS1 – just toss him in the infant seat and clip it to the stroller! Those were the days!

    LfB – yes, we will attach them to rolling luggage, or get one of those car seat carriers that we can wheel through the airport. The boys can pull their own seats.

    I’m also debating a leashes. Do you think I can just attach dog leashes to their back packs? ;)

  69. while the majority of car accidents happen <5 miles from home,

    That’s because the majority of driving is with 5 miles of home.

  70. DW just reminded me that we need to bring a booster for my 7 yo tomorrow to Moab. I was going to skip.

    We’re also doing the self-driven day of Jeep Wrangler touring through Canyonlands, and I’m just a little nervous about driving alongside the cliff drop-offs.

    Also, DW has occasionally mentioned a casual desire for some kind of convertible car at some point. So I was watching Doug DeMuro’s video on the redesigned 2018 Wrangler. It checks boxes of open top, 5 seats, and my personal one–real stick shift.

    But the Sport (base) model is in the low 30s, and they don’t seem to depreciate much. So we’ll see if we fall in love.

  71. “We’re also doing the self-driven day of Jeep Wrangler touring through Canyonlands, and I’m just a little nervous about driving alongside the cliff drop-offs.”

    Milo – you’re a better man than me… That sounds petrifying! I wouldn’t drive up Mt. Washington for the same reason (we hired a driver who was super nice, plus it allowed me to actually see everything rather than focus on the road).

  72. Milo, we have a 2002 Jeep Wrangler that DH maintains, inherited from his Dad. I was amused that the Wrangler was singled out by an automotive executive at the Reliability And Maintainability Symposium as “the only vehicle without a statistical wear-out life” or some such.

    Camping vs. being home is back-of-truck plus tent vs. ~2500 square feet. The boys share two bedrooms but have a single-over-double bunk for this occasions when they’re all getting along and want to be together. That way no one is left out. We added a family room to get to 2500 square feet so clearly we thought our lives would be happier with a) a space where all of us could relax comfortably together (living room was too small for 6) and b) a space where we could get away from each other (such that piano and trombone practice sometimes occur simultaneously and without too much interference)

    I’m not sure at what point I would consider us to have “too much” space. I am somewhat envious, especially in the winter, of my brother’s full basement.

  73. There have been multiple accidents around here where the child survived and the driver did not because the baby/toddler was in a car seat. The car seat was ejected and the kid was still strapped in and was fine. The same when a tree hit the driver and the car crashed. The kid in the car seat was fine. I can’t speak to mental state, but these kids were fine because of car seats. We took a car seat on a plane one time and then we never did it again. I guess it might help with severe turbulence, but we didn’t think it made it any safer for DD vs seatbelt.

    We some how used to get a free seat from Hertz or several others based on status or credit card. It wasn’t a great seat like our old Britax at home, but it was fine. NY state requires seat belts for all passengers in the vehicle. We started using seat belts in all cabs and Ubers because we realized that we don’t even know the driver so why wouldn’t we use a seatbelt???

    The apartment that I lived in until fifth grade was tiny. I shared a bedroom with my brother and it wasn’t a real bedroom. The apartment was a junior 4 with one bathroom and my mother built a wall in the living room so we could sleep in a separate room. Tiny kitchen too. We moved to three bedroom apartment with 2(!!!) bathrooms when I was in fifth grade and it was so much nicer to have my own room.

  74. Milo – we were just in Moab!

    We did this trip: https://cliffsandcanyons.com/rockaneering-trips/rockaneering-half-day-trip-family-rockaneering/ – chosen partly because it could accomodate Grandpa and a 6-year old.

    Highly recommend. Cost more than a day at Disney, but well worth it. The kids loved it. I realized I am better at compartmentalizing than I used to be (I climbed up a wall without looking down once). And sending the kids backwards over an 80 foot cliff was memorable.

  75. Another recommendation – Moab Community Aquatic Center. Great pool, minimal rules (none of this crap about having to swim the length of the pool in order to use the slide or high dive). Good and affordable way to spend an afternoon if the weather is crappy.

  76. (I know, I know, the cab drivers all have job security, 401ks, and great health insurance, so I should be riding with them instead).

    According the WSJ, Uber’s going to start screwing the drivers out of even more money, including any bonuses. I do wonder how long people will agree to drive for a company that essentially doesn’t pay them. That’s not so much a moral concern as a practical one.

    (none of this crap about having to swim the length of the pool in order to use the slide or high dive)

    Hey! Those rules are there for your safety, young lady. And you’d better be in the pool within arm’s reach of your kid if he’s five or younger.

  77. Rhode, good luck with the leashes! I tried one once. First time he felt the slightest resistance, the kid sat down, would not budge for coaxing or for pulling. I didn’t try dragging him through the airport. So I told him he had to stay right beside me, which he generally did. He got his own suitcase for his 4th birthday, and has pulled his own stuff ever since.

    Laura, whatever the happiness/space causality is, the thing that amazes me on that is so much space for two people. You say you were happy with less than the “sad couple” level, and that you’re a person who likes room. Several people have said that they have or grew up with less than in the “study”. I agree that a full 2-parent family with multiple kids is too much for the size swelling they’re talking about, but there is no indication kids are included. I’m not a fan of “open plan” living. The biggest place we have ever lived had one big area for the entrance, living room, dining room, and kitchen. It was in different zones, but all one big space. Beyond that was a small laundry room off the kitchen, an 110 sf bedroom and small bathroom off a small hallway, and the master suite. We couldn’t stand it. Given his choice of out in the wide open or tucked into his little room, my kid hardly ever came out. In homes with separate rooms, he’d often hung out someplace other than his room, probably because doing so didn’t mean I would be right there in the same room with him. After living in German apartments from the turn of the 20th Century, I like wide hallways that have room for storage, a chair to put your shoes on in, and similar things. My ideal home would have that and a little den off the kitchen connecting it to one room, and another room across the hallway, 850 sf in all.

  78. I think the space you need is dependent on so many things about how you live. I cannot stand clutter. Even too much wall decor feels like visual clutter to me. So I like a space with storage and enough room that if we are in it with a throw blanket on the couch, books, laptops, etc it doesn’t feel disorderly. SM you frequently talk about your fondness for small spaces and also your challenges with keeping on top of random stuff in your space. When I read that I always think you need new or better storage space in your home. I obviously don’t suggest it because if you wanted that you would do it, but I think part of the appeal of having more space is just having enough room to put everything away. For me, a tiny space would only work if it had a ton of storage so I didn’t have to see stuff out everywhere.

  79. Thanks, Ada. We’re already doing the Jeep and a horseback riding trip. I’m not sure if we have a boat ride in there.

    I don’t have a phobia of heights, but I have enough of a fear of climbing heights that I had an unexpected but intense surge of adrenaline on the cruise ship a few minutes *after* (surprisingly?) I came off the climbing wall. SittIn in the cafe eating lunch, I felt amped up.

    WCE – interesting. I looked on CL, and it’s like there’s really no depreciation whatsoever. It’s amazing.

    Rhode – hold your applause until we return in one piece. But if you hear of a family driving over the cliff next week, speak not ill of us, for it was not because we were taking selfies..

  80. According the WSJ, Uber’s going to start screwing the drivers out of even more money, including any bonuses.

    Here’s a good article about how Amazon treats their delivery drivers:

    https://splinternews.com/we-are-treated-like-animals-say-amazon-flex-drivers-1834142643

    And Instacart, Doordash and others screw drivers out of their tips:

    That so many people are willing to put up with this crap speaks volumes about the difficulty of getting decent full-time jobs at the bottom of the workforce.

  81. Yeah, it’s awful. I follow some of those Reddit groups. When I read about Instacart, I immediately started tipping in cash. I actually always try to tip in cash, for all service workers, which is why I regularly stop at the bank and get lots of small bills.

  82. DD – is that really true? The gig economy people I have contact with don’t want a decent full-time job. They want flexible work where they can determine the hours. I don’t think it is that competitive to get the attendance secretary job at the local elementary school – $22/hr with benefits.

  83. Ada, you think people would really sit around all day waiting for their phone to give them an alert to grab a 3 hour shift delivering packages for Amazon that will net them about $9 an hour if they had a better option?

    I know some are doing it because they don’t want full time work as you said, but I’ve seen a lot of comments online from people who are doing it because they can’t find full time jobs with benefits.

  84. Presumably the attendance secretary at Ada’s school has to be able to pass a background check, drug test and have some level of experience. She may also have to pay for childcare for her own kids to work that job.

    We don’t have many gig economy jobs locally that I know of, but I remember chatting at Kohl’s during the Night Owl/Early Bird sale with a fellow mom who worked there because the Kohl’s manager would schedule her around her husband’s job/childcare obligations. Kohl’s needed people who liked Friday night/Saturday hours.

  85. “I know some are doing it because they don’t want full time work as you said, but I’ve seen a lot of comments online from people who are doing it because they can’t find full time jobs with benefits.”

    I tend to agree with Ada. I’ve noticed that Starbucks can get away with paying at the bottom of the wage scale here…starting at $12 and they will hire anyone. McD and every other company, doing whatever work pays more. This is a zero unemployment economy and its hard to understand that people who want a full time job can’t get one. Everyone I know is increasing wages trying to keep other employers from poaching their workers.

    Recently, in Texas, we stopped at a truck stop where they were offering starting wages at $12 for cashiers with higher rates for all the other jobs, and vacation and benefits.

    Of course, my nephews who want to take two to three weeks off within a couple months of starting work are having a bit of difficulty finding a job.

  86. I was in the city yesterday and we went to a trendy diner style restaurant on the upper west side for lunch. It was full and they only had two servers for everything. They took orders, bused tables, got drinks, and acted as a host. They told us they are short 3 people because they can’t find staff. I noticed that many places had help wanted signs as we walked back to our car.

    My friend is a teacher in a local daycare. They need aides and they pay $13-14 an hour and she can’t find anyone. The reason is that an adult babysitter in a home would probably be able to make at least 18-20 around here. There are help wanted signs in all of the restaurants and stores around here. I think this is going to continue to be a problem.

  87. Well, would you want to work for that? $15 an hour is $30K annually. Pretty hard to raise a family on that, especially with no benefits.

  88. DS3 decided he’d get a PT job at college when school started last August. He got a ride (1 mi) from a friend into the town. His plan was to start at the first food service place he came to and make his way back to campus applying to all of them, and there are a lot, along the way. He never got to the second place…hired on the spot at the first place based on his experience working at Taco Bell.

    He’ll make $13/hr doing grunt work this summer for a local landscaping company*, same place he worked last summer. + a 1 weekend day/wk at a volunteer internship in his major. He could probably get a higher paying gig without much effort.

    This is truly a fog-a-mirror interview. No drug test, see you at 7am on Monday. Anyone who can get there on time and work a full shift could catch on with this place.

    My (limited) experience with Uber/Lyft drivers has been that they either like the flexibility/don’t want a FT job working for someone else, it’s a side hustle in addition to their regular FT job, or they really want to do the driving vs flipping burgers. No one has bitched about the money they make.

  89. I’ve heard some Uber/Lyft drivers only drive when demand pricing means they get paid well.

  90. For the next few days we have 3 “kids” ages 36, 38, 40 all sleeping downstairs in the basement apt. Enjoying the square footage.

  91. “best evidence has 9 year olds (and maybe 7+) sitting in the front seat. Despite a high-quality study that shows that in new cars (model year 2000+) older kids are safest in the front seat, no one has jumped on that bandwagon.”

    I posted about this several years ago. IIRC, Consumer Reports had an article that discussed how with newer cars (I’m pretty sure the year they cited was after 2000, IIRC it was more like 2006) the front seat was safer than the back seat for older kids.

    I remember one particular ride shortly after that, with DD in the front seat with me for the first time, and having a wonderful conversation with her.

  92. Weren’t airbags the main issue with it being unsafe for kids to be in the front seat? Now that cars have the sensors to turn them off, there’s no reason not to let kids in the front.

  93. My friend is a teacher in a local daycare. They need aides and they pay $13-14 an hour and she can’t find anyone. The reason is that an adult babysitter in a home would probably be able to make at least 18-20 around here. There are help wanted signs in all of the restaurants and stores around here. I think this is going to continue to be a problem.

    Perhaps they should increase their pay or otherwise make the jobs more attractive.

    For the next few days we have 3 “kids” ages 36, 38, 40 all sleeping downstairs in the basement apt. Enjoying the square footage.

    Have fun Meme!

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