Child Passenger Safety Week

I was trying to figure out something to post on here this week, but a certain person in our lives insisted on inserting some drama into it that veered me off the path and I forgot about Child Passenger Safety Week! Child Passenger Safety, or in most circles, the use of car seats/boosters, is a passion I have, which may seem odd. Why is it a passion? It became one when I learned that cars were and are the #1 killer of our kids. More than drowning, falling, any medical disease, burning, all the things we protect them from cars are the most likely taker. And yet with that kind of impact, over 80%, some estimates put it over 90% but the 80% is well documented, are used WRONG. That’s right, either installed wrong, used wrong, wrong seat for the child’s height, weight, or age, missing pieces, expired, incompatible with the vehicle sometimes people get really creative in their version of ‘wrong’ like the guy who bolted plywood to his back seat and then bolted the car seat to it. True story. Or the fireman who thought if one seatbelt was good 3 should be awesome and therefore installed a mom’s seat with all 3 belts at the same time. LOL I love his enthusiasm.

My purpose isn’t to shame, I did stuff wrong, too. Namely, I realized I was using a seat that had been expired for several years, it had been another family member’s. So I bought another one and my son quickly outgrew it in a matter of months. I’d spent $150 on that seat, had not planned to need to replace it so I desperately researched.

This is the seat I bought him first (well, actually the first seat was an infant carrier that was a total waste of $60 because he outgrew it at 4 months!) Note the ears creeping over the back of the seat:
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I discovered the only seats my 33lbs 2 1/2 year old fit in were $300+ and posted to craigslist asking for a used Britax seat, the most common of the options. Luckily a local woman who was passionate about CPS already emailed me and said getting a used seat wasn’t a good option. She linked me to car-seat.org, my home away from home for the last 8 years, and put me in touch with a charity, the Kyle David Miller Foundation, which at the time was on a mission to provide higher weight harness (HWH) seats to families that couldn’t afford them but had kids that needed them. They put me on the waiting list and told me it could be up to 6 months. Another blessing came in the form of a CPST nurse at our children’s hospital who gave me one of her training seats, a Britax Marathon. Having never used a higher end seat, I fell in love with it pretty quickly. The ease of use! And it fit my big kid. ❤  As luck would have it is was also a really sought after cute paw print cover.

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IA couple months later the Kyle David Miller Foundation sent a Sunshine Kids Radian to a tech who then brought it to us. She fought it in the backseat of my ’99 Honda Civic EX Coupe, and sadly, she lost. It was 100 degrees out that day, I felt bad. So they had her take it to another family, and they sent her back to us with a Britax Regent, known as the king of car seats at the time. This thing went to 80lbs harnessed and was a beast. A throne! Here he is minutes after she installed it. Check out all the space above his head! He was a 3 year old in the 95% for height and weight by then and yet he still had years left in it! It fit an average 8 year old in the harness. And it was very easy to use, although heavy.

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A while later I was able to save up and get him the next seat he’d need, one that would turn into a booster. Again we needed tall with high weight limits, so he got a Britax Frontier, and later I traded that up for a Britax Frontier85. Loved those seats. They were heavy, but fit him well, and were very solid and pretty easy to use. I just now got rid of those after realizing I have no one to sit in them anymore!

So that’s how I got passionate about it. I wasn’t totally ignorant on the subject, but someone pulled me aside and shared some important info. Once I realized the danger involved I learned all I could. Which led to me wanting to help other parents who I figured knew the little I knew, too. So I became certified a few years ago and run an inspection station through our church where the state also provides some seats to give to eligible families who cannot otherwise afford them. It’s a blessing to me to be able to give back to the community that way. 🙂 But…I’ll be honest, my own check seats prove that about 90% of the seats I see are used wrong somehow. And the parents are usually surprised.

Biggest things I can share follow:

1)pick the right seat for age/height/weight, age being the first really important factor. Stages:
–Rear facing, newborns start in a rear facing seat, contrary to popular belief this does NOT have to be an infant carrier with a handle. We started this baby in a Combi Coccoro, convertible seat instead. KEEP the kids rear facing until you literally have to turn them forward because they’ve outgrown a rear facing convertible, most of which now rear face to at least 40lbs. Then…–Forward facing in a 5 point harness, either in a convertible car seat or a combination seat (convertible goes rear and forward, combo goes forward and then booster). Keep them this way until at least 5 years old, and then train them how to sit still and upright in a booster seat.
–Booster: minimum 5 years, 40lbs, though a lot of kids aren’t ready until about 6 years old. Then use the booster until the child passes the 5 step test: 1. child sit all the way at the back of the seat?
2. knees bent comfortable at vehicle seat edge?
3. shoulder belt across shoulder, not neck?
4. lap belt rides low across the thighs, not belly?
5. can stay seated this way for the whole ride, every time?
And is at least 8-10 years old, at least 80lbs, and at least 4’9″ tall. Seatbelts in cars were made for 150lbs adults, not kids.

2) Next is never ever ever buy a used seat of unknown history. Seats expire. And lots of people do things to compromise the safety of a seat, like wash the harness straps in a washing machine, or check or gate check it on an airplane. Or drop it. All no-nos. There are budget seats out there that will work in a lot of situations, if you need help, ask me or find a tech, we’re happy to answer questions about what seat to get for your budget, vehicle, and child.

3) Britax does not a magic bubble make. 🙂 All seats are equally safe as far as we’re told, they only receive a pass/fail from the tests and precious few release the actual results. What makes a difference is how easy is to use. The easier it is the more likely you are to use it right! We techs have a saying, too, RTFM! roughly translated it’s, ahem, read the freaking manual. They come with manuals for a reason. They really do need one.

4) LATCH is not the be all end all it was supposed to be, seatbelts are just as safe and frankly usually easier to use. Just don’t use LATCH and seatbelt at the same time.

5) Don’t use coats in car seats. Or Bundle Mes. Or after market pads, inserts, nothing that goes between kid and seat. Basically the word aftermarket is ugly. The Mighty Tight falls into this range. We’ve seen it shred seatbelts. That’s certainly not doing anyone a favor.

Those are my big ones! Here’s some extra ones:

1) NEVER put an infant carrier seat on the top of a shopping cart. Neither the cart nor the seat were made for this. It’s a dangerous duo.
2) Don’t leave an infant in the infant carrier seat. It’s a CAR seat and should only be used in the car or atop the stroller. Too much time in the seat is unhealthy. If you’re worried about the temptation like I was, skip the carrier and get a convertible. It’ll save you money in the long run, too.
3) Not car seat related, but no one should ever sit in a lap belt. There’s a reason they don’t make them anymore. In particular, never use a booster with a lap belt only. The only thing lap belts are good for are installing car seats.

I think that’s it for now. There’s lots of nitty gritty stuff, but these are some good basics. Please ask questions if you need to! For good measure here’s my newest little one in the Combi Coccoro, proof tiny babies (he was 6lbs 9oz) CAN indeed use convertible car seats from birth (please note we were not getting ready to drive and I had not tightened the harness yet, it’s too loose at the thighs!):

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Buttons Diapers Giveaway!

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As a giveaway junkie I’m excited to be on the hosting end of my first giveaway. I reached out to the manufacturer of my favorite cloth diaper, Buttons, and she graciously agreed to give one of my readers a Buttons cover and insert of their choice. I knew long before I got pregnant, heck, long before I even had a boyfriend, that I would cloth diaper any future kids. This may very well be the first of many posts on it, brace yourself, but to me it just didn’t make sense to use disposables. Cloth is cheaper, better for the environment, cuter, safer for baby, and though peopl who’ve never done it may have apprehensions, I think it’s actually easier. We never have that ‘oh shoot!’ moment at 10pm when we realize we’re out of diapers. We don’t have to worry about spending $50+ a month for a box. Is that even an appropriate guess? My other son is 10, it’s been a long time since I had to buy disposable diapers!

I lucked out having a couple of great friends who gave me some cloth diapers to try out different types and brands. It can be an intimidating world. But I’ll go nitty gritty into it all in another post. This post is all about the Buttons. I did not receive any free Buttons diapers from the sponsor (or anyone else, lol) to do this review. I approached her about a giveaway because of all the kinds I’ve gotten to try these are my favorites for 3 reasons: simplicity, cost, customer service. Well, and they’re cute, that little embroidered button on the butt.

Buttons are an AI2, read: all-in-two, system. There is a shell  or cover and an insert. Here’s the blurb from the Buttons site describing their system:

“Our one-size diaper covers can snap to fit babies from 9-35 lbs, and are made of 2 layers of soft wipeable PUL with double gussets around the legs. Our snap-in diaper inserts are soft and absorbant, and come in two sizes…Elastic at the back and tummy makes a custom fit.”

“Our daytime inserts are made of 4 layers of absorbent micro fiber, with a luxuriously soft layer of fleece on top. Buttons cloth inserts snap into our one-size diapers covers. Plus, they come in 2 sizes for your growing baby (small fits babies 9-20 lbs., large fits babies 20-35 lbs.).”

“Our nighttime doublers have 6 wonderful layers of micro fiber, for extra absorbency, and work as a doubler with Buttons daytime inserts snapped on top. Buttons cloth inserts snap right into our one-size diapers covers. Plus, they come in 2 sizes for your growing baby (small fits babies 9-20 lbs., large fits babies 20-35 lbs.) *Note: the nighttime doubler is made to be used with our daytime insert snapped on top. Only the daytime insert has a top layer of soft moisture-wicking fleece to keep baby’s skin dry.”

I’ve now tried diapers from many major brands: AppleCheeks, Kissaluvs, Rumparooz, Smart Snugs, GroVia, Thirsties, Happy Heineys,BumGenius, and a couple WAHM made ones, which I really liked. I’ve also tried some of the so-called “Chinese Cheapies”: Sunbabies, Alva, Kawaii, Babyland, Baby Wizard, THX. Buttons is my favorite among them all. I recently decided to get rid of all the others that I’ve bought and replace them with Buttons via some Amazon gift cards I got using Swagbucks.

The review:

The most appealing part of Buttons to me is the simplicity. No stuffing pockets, no waiting forever for all-in-ones to dry. No elaborate folding/rolling routines with flats. I tried each of these things. Snap the insert in, put it on. I love that I don’t have to pre-setup all the diapers for other people to be able to change the baby, either. It’s too simple. No more worrying if I ever got all the pockets stuffed before the next wash day. No, I didn’t. I almost never did. Put them together on the fly which would lead to my dear husband putting an empty pocket on the baby. Oops. And it’s one step in putting it on. Baby is too wiggly for putting on a fitted and then a cover.

The second most appealing point is cost. These are good quality diapers, and yet the price is a good median price: $12-$13 per cover, 3 inserts for $10.50. And you can get by with only a few covers per day, I usually only need 2-3, occasionally 4. Because you reuse the same cover all day until it gets soiled. As in…dirty. Wet is OK. We even use Buttons at night with the doublers. No tricky night time routine, these are the only ones not leaking on us during the 12 hour night time stretch. No, my almost 5 month old doesn’t sleep 12 hours straight, but it sure helps him sleep better that I don’t change him each time he wakes to nurse.

Third is absorbency. These inserts are thick and dense, but very soft with the fleece on top. He never feels like he’s been sitting in a wet diaper, even after the aforementioned 12 hour night. I did have to wait a while to use these with him, as he was less than 7lbs at birth. But by month two and under 9lbs he fit them OK on their tightest setting without overlapping the wings, shortest rise.

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And here is today at 12lbs, this is with the nighttime doubler in. It does make for a very fluffy thick bum, but it works!

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To enter this giveaway you’ll need to go to my Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/midwestcrunch and click the giveaway tab.

Here’s a mobile friendly link: http://bit.ly/1lXbgvp

And please visit Buttons Diapers at: www.buttonsdiapers.com,
On Facebook: www.Facebook.com/ButtonsDiapers
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Buttons_Diapers
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/buttonsdiapers/
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/ButtonsDiapers

Check them out! I hope you like them as much as we do.

From A Self-Avowed Nursing Cover-Upper

I finally really get it, why covering up is a sore subject for breastfeeding moms. I thought I got it before, but it wasn’t personal yet. I nursed my first son for a few months, and always used a cover when I was out and about, and often at home if anyone else was home. For this one, he’s being breastfed longer and I didn’t buy any product with the explicit purpose to cover up, such a Hooter Hider (lovely name) or any of the other massive monstrosities that cover up mom from neck to waist and also completely cover up baby. Instead I have just thrown a receiving blanket over my shoulder, careful not to actually cover baby’s face which I feel is uncalled for and even dangerous. I don’t usually worry about it at home, but sometimes when people are over I know they’re uncomfortable so I have. But you know what? I shouldn’t be made to feel I should have to hide feeding my child in my home, or anywhere really.

Luckily I haven’t had a really horrible experience at a business. The worst negative attitude I got was from my husband’s ex-girlfriend, and her opinion is not something I’m all that worried about. Although getting accused of showing her kid pornography because I nursed in front of him was….different.

But yesterday came this aha moment. I had a family member with me in the car, we stopped so he could get cigarettes. No smoking in my car or anywhere around me or my kids, so he stayed outside. I told him if he was going to smoke for a bit then I was feeding the baby who feels that hunger is cause for a meltdown that everyone must hear. So I’m nursing and notice that said family member is no longer smoking, but still outside in jeans in 90 degree humid heat. Odd, but OK. I even commented to my older son that I wondered what he was doing, and he was just standing but sitting at the parking curb right in front of the running van. It had to be HOT right there. He gets in just as I’ve decided the baby must be done because he’s not eating but just hanging out at the food supply making sure it doesn’t go anywhere.

I said, “I wondered why you were out there so long, it’s hot!” And he said angrily, “Because I was waiting for you to finish and cover up!” obviously irritated that because of me and my baby he had to stand out in the heat. It’s been a long time since I felt so shamed. For a moment I felt dirty and ashamed of what I’d just done, and that I’d so disappointed my family. Tears stung my eyes. The best I could sputter was, “I was just feeding him. I feed him in public all the time. I wasn’t doing anything bad.” But in that moment I really felt like I was. It hurt coming from him. And for just a moment it made me think maybe I really should only feed my child in private. Except…I was in my car. It was rather private.

Even though I know better, even though I know I have absolutely nothing to be ashamed about, even though I know it’s his problem and not mine, my epiphany was that THAT is why I cover up. It has nothing to do with me thinking it’s necessary and everything to do with being ashamed of what I’m doing. Only I shouldn’t be. I’m feeding a child the way God intended. As a Christian, this really does matter to me. I believe God expects modesty. But this modest God, he also designed breasts to feed a child. In all his infinite wisdom, this is how He chose it should be done. He had to know babies were going to get fed places other than private home bedrooms. He had to know these little babies he would bless parents with were going to be wiggly grabby creatures who take offense at being covered. Knowing all that I cannot agree with thinking I should cover up all the time. I’ll be honest and say I’ll probably still make an attempt because I still feel as though it’s shameful sometimes, emotions are hard to get rid of even though I know better.

I really never thought it was a big deal to cover up. But my almost 5 month old thinks so. He doesn’t like anything covering up around his nursing area, lol. So I’m going to try and get over it. I find ics of women breastfeeding throughout history helpful. It’s a strange paradox that we live in a time where modesty is rare, breasts are hanging out all over the place, and yet nursing garners negative attention. And that throughout history nursing was just taken in stride. In a meeting to buy a house and baby’s hungry? feed him, right there, in front of your husband and the banker man, no one will think twice. And Hooter Hider Udder Cover hadn’t yet come into existence. Sitting for a family portrait and baby’s hungry? Feed him, it could take almost an hour to get the pic anyway. Everyone will know exactly what you’re doing, they will see some breast skin, maybe even a nipple, but they won’t care because hey, it’s how babies eat. I so wish this attitude was more prevalent. Because I’d really like to never again feel ashamed of feeding my child. Or dirty. Like I’d just done something wrong and sexual in nature in front of the world. By early 1900s it became the difference between being poor and rich: the poor breastfed their babies, the rich found it too primal in nature and not ladylike. But prior to that, it was what you did. We can blame at least in part the availability of infant formula. These pics are from Harvard library:

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And here’s an entire FB page devoted to pics of women nursing in history: https://www.facebook.com/HistoricBreastfeedingPhotos

First giveaway is coming!

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I have nothing of true importance to say, I just couldn’t keep it to myself that I’ve got the first sponsored giveaway coming with the first review. I have to finish writing it up and taking some more pics, oh, and figure out how to use Rafflecopter as the host of a giveaway. I’m well versed in how to enter on one, haha! So keep your eyes open. As the one and only hint to the subject of the review and giveaway, the company owner shares my name: Amy. I know, that helps, right? Right!?

 

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I have joined the leagues of the soccer mom

We now have….a minivan. Ugh. How I hate writing that. We realized a few weeks ago that we had outgrown our tiny vehicles and needed at least one with more seats. We were, however, upside down on both car loans and had no money to put down AND Needed to keep to our small payment we had. Lots of issues to fill there. And I HATE minivans. I’ve always driven compact cars with a manual stickshift. I love my stickshift. Mostly I like Honda, but my last car was a Nissan Versa six speed manual. My angstful feelings towards minivans meant we started searching for 3 row SUVs. No easy task considering the age we needed to look at for our payment budget. Yes, we are payment buyers. Sigh. And we learned that the ones that were out there kind of sucked, I am not a Ford or Chevy fan. And their SUVs suck gas, it seems, at least the ones with third rows made mid 2000s. We found what we thought was the absolute perfect solution: a mini-minivan. A Kia Ronda. Oops, Rondo.

The Rondo is a lot like a Mazda5 only the Rondo seats 7, Mazda5 seats 6. But after driving all over tarnation to find a good condition Rondo we discovered that back row wasn’t as roomy as we first thought and the middle row had two positions: forward and backward. It wouldn’t work. Back to the drawing board I looked up the local dealer I’ve gotten all my cars from, and my family gets their cars from. But I assumed they’d have nothing in our under $10k price range because they’re a name brand dealer. BUT Lo and behold they had a 2006 Toyota Sienna, the holy grail of the soccer mom. An eight seater, no less, we have years before we’d grow outta this thing, if ever. It’s pretty, though:
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Dealer’s photo from the website

So I have joined the dark side. Where’s my cookies?

Chicken Chili

Beans are one of the cheapest way to feed a lot of people. Our grocery budget these days is almost invisible so we eat a lot of beans. Black beans, white beans, red, kidney, pinto. Key ingredient in this is the cumin. Don’t leave that out or substitute it.

2 cups dry navy beans
1 cup chicken broth
2 cans green chiles
cumin
pepper
salt
garlic
dried onion flakes (or real diced onion)
2 chicken breasts w/out bones or bones removed

cilantro (optional, just as a topping)

 

Cook the chicken breasts and shred. TIP: if you have a kitchenAid stand mixer use it to shred your chicken, no fuss, no mess, and it’s fast!

Put all the other ingredients together and cook preferred method, I use the crockpot high 4 hours if you soak the beans, 6 if you don’t, or overnight, or I use the pressure cooker, about 50 minutes, 30 if you soak the beans first.

Top with sour cream and cilantro.

Great with Jiffy copycat homemade cornbread, too. I’ll post a recipe for that later.

Mondays stink. Except it’s Tuesday.

Always hate that trick a Monday holiday plays. On the one hand it’s great that it’s now Tuesday, one work day down. On the other hand, I walk around all day doing Monday things and thinking I have until tomorrow for Tuesday things. So to my piano students who’ve ever experienced a scheduling gaffe from me, this might have been the culprit.

Our house runs a little (who am I kidding, a lot) different than the norm, whatever that is. I work two jobs from home and we homeschool, which means I don’t really have much of a set schedule and I love that. I’m pretty covetous of it and don’t like setting things in times on a schedule. But I do because it’s necessary. My 10 year old has gotten used to my slack ways but I don’t think it’s benefiting him. So we’re scheduling a little more now. Formal school time, though it’s not really a time but rather just ‘before everything else’ which = Minecrack. He’s not my biggest fan right now, I don’t think he’ll be following my blog. I’ve been on his hit list since I denied him a Facebook account at 9.

As soon as I find the dog, because she stole the baby’s binky and those things are a precious commodity in this house, I’m off to run errands. And more and more I wish it was OK to leave my kids in the car because it’s difficult to do 3 quick stops places and unbuckle a 4 month old in and out. But I promise I’ll take him in with me, don’t go stalking my car. He’d scream anyway, he HATES his carseat with the passion of a thousand fiery sons.

So what stinks most about my Mondays (er Tuesday this week) is that after a weekend where everyone plus an extra or two was home intermittently making messes but then leaving before cleaning them up, Monday is clean-up day. AT least it’s supposed to be. I haven’t actually done any cleaning yet. My husband won’t read this, so he’ll still be surprised when he gets home. Surprise! Still a pizza box on the counter, breast pump parts and diapers on the dining table (appetizing, yes?), and FIVE laundry baskets of clean clothes to put away. In my defense: I showered. I am clean, as is my hair and as a bonus, so is the baby. He showered with me. Yes he’s slippery. It’s OK. I’m feeling pretty accomplished that baby & I were clean and dressed before 9am. The house hasn’t fared so well but dinner is in the crockpot. Kind of. I was going for chicken chili only I realized after I’d put the chili in that I don’t actually have any chicken. Oops. But it has chicken broth in it, maybe the husband won’t notice? Mmmmm tastes like chicken, but it’s not. Maybe I’ll post a recipe later. A friend who was a total foodie in training to be a chef told me it was wonderful once. I found these great cookies to make and had started mashing bananas and oats for them until I realized I was missing the applesauce needed. Applesauce can be used as a substitute in recipes, but what do you substitute for applesauce? Apparently I need to go shopping. But I don’t shop on Mondays. Tuesdays. Whatever.

 

 

 

In The Beginning

All new to this but a couple people of my Facebook friends recently suggested I start a blog, that others might enjoy reading my sometimes odd way of looking at life. Maybe they’re flattering me, maybe they’re just trying to share the awkwardness they feel at reading my posts, but worth a try. I don’t know if you’d call me an avid blog reader, but I am an avid contest enter-er. It hurt to type that word just now. Strange to say it’s a hobby, but it is. And I’ve got the winnings to prove it! I started to list what I’ve won but realized I can’t, I’ve forgotten some of it. Sometimes big, sometimes little. I average about once a month. It’s exciting to win, even if it’s really small. I won a pen once. It’s a pen that smells like apple pie though! You can check my About Me page for more info on who I am and my goals for the blog here. But really I hope to brighten someone’s day, or to share something that I’m happy to have learned from someone else. For this first post, though, for posterity’s sake, I’d like to share the Facebook post that got me to blog (incidentally, I hate the word blog), originally posted around 11pm, when it was dark outside, it matters:

“Oh. my. Gosh. There is a weird noise happening in my office. I have to work, jobs due at 7am. I keep hearing a noise so I whip around in my chair. I don’t see anything. My office is kind of a sun room, windows all around. And used to be a porch, so it’s on top of a creepy crawl space that we’ve never even looked in since moving here. I got up to make sure the door in here is locked. Shut all the blinds. Duct taped a napkin to the window in the door (ssh, it’s all I could find). I start to type. There’s that noise! It sounds like a critter. Or someone tapping the window. Eeieeieie!! On the verge of going to wake John up (’cause that’s a good husband’s job, right?) when I realize I just spent TEN minutes of much needed work time freaking out. at the sound of a pumping bra with a zipper down the middle blowing in the breeze of the fan next to my desk and hitting my chair.”

The bra has since relocated itself to the pack and play diaper stacker (’cause…where else?) but here’s the setup my dear husband nearly lost sleep over:

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Pardon the mess, in the interest of being honest, this is what my office really did look like. Dog toy on the floor and all.