Out growing Vehicles

In the last 11 years, I have had many vehicles. I have had in the following order; 1990 Pontiac sunbird, 2003 Oldsmobile Intrigue, 1998 Jeep Grand Cherokee, 2003 Chevy Silverado, 2008 Chevy Silverado, 2013 Dodge Ram, 2015 Dodge Ram, 2016 Jeep Patriot, 2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee, 2003 Dodge Caravan.What I have learned throughout my driving history is that you cannot plan for your future vehicle needs. Below is my vehicle history and how I started with a car and ended up driving a minivan.

My dad bought my first car it was a Pontiac Sunbird that was manufactured in 1990 the same year I was born. Compared to my peers and school I was driving around in a P.O.S, but that didn’t matter because I loved it. The downside to driving an older car starts with repairs that had to be undertaken and the cost became more than the car was worth. This is the car I had when I met my wife Courtenay. After buying tires and replacing pumps I sold the car and I picked up a Pontiac Intrigue.

I had the Intrigue for only a year before I sold it. This car was fully loaded and well taken care of. Unfortunately, after being cut off by so many SUV and trucks I realized that I was not a car person and so my dad lent me his old Jeep. I loved the jeep. Being higher up off the ground and having power to tow was great, but what a gas guzzler. I did however learn that right now in my life an SUV was more suitable for my needs than a car.

I bought my 2003 Silverado for its towing capabilities, it was very powerful and super comfy. There were a few issues with the truck such as the heater didn’t work and unfortunately It was only a 2-wheel drive. Having so much power and only being rear wheel drive It was a little to heavy for winter driving. I had to get rid of my Silverado when I cracked the frame trying to rescue my friend from an off-road accident.

I bought my Next truck a 2008 Silverado from a dealership in Calgary Alberta Canada which was 4-wheel drive and crew cab. What I learned is that Buying a Chevy truck from a Chevrolet dealership doesn’t mean the truck is going to always work perfectly, but it had given me a sense of security and a sense of safety. I assumed that since I had bought the vehicle from a dealership that the vehicle would be in great working order. I loved this truck but more problems began popping up after getting the vehicle serviced at the dealership. After a year and several visits to Integra Tire it was discovered that the truck was going to need a transmission overhaul. I at the time could not afford to fix this truck as I was working part time and going to school full time. I traded in my Chevy Silverado for my first ram.

My first ram is where I took the biggest financial hit in my driving career. This was my first brand new vehicle and I didn’t understand the idea behind depreciation on new vehicles. The vehicle was such a great price that I could not turn it down. My wife and I put many miles on this truck, it was loaded with everything I need except the Hemi engine. I used the truck to tow my father’s tent trailer around and to help my friends move houses. When we bought our travel trailer to go camping the dealership told us our truck would be more than capable of towing this trailer. What we learned is that we needed a slightly bigger engine. I ended up trading this truck in for the same truck but with the Hemi Engine. This is where I took the biggest hit and depreciation was inscribed in my brain. The trade in value from one ram to another was nothing. I got nothing on my trade. I wish I had bought the hemi in the first place. WOW! was I impressed with the power of the hemi, I would totally buy this truck again and again. However, with the turning economy we decided to downsize.

At the current time with our new house, my wife’s jeep wrangler, my truck, my motorcycles, and the trailer I was overspent. Our son Parker wasn’t even a possibility at this point. If either my wife or I lost our jobs we would be too far in the hole to get out. We sold the trailer and traded in my Dodge ram and Courtenay’s Jeep Wrangler for a jeep Patriot and a Jeep Cherokee. By doing this we cut our vehicle expenses in half. After about 6 months we realized we were still stretched out to far so we sold our house and bought our current house which is slightly smaller but far less expensive. I traded in the patriot for an older Grand Cherokee.

We felt a lot more stable and a lot less stressed having bought this Grand Cherokee in cash and having had paid it in full. At this point in my life my wife and I had agreed we were not having kids and I thought I was done changing vehicles. I had the Grand Cherokee for 6 months before my wife and I changed our minds about having kids and when I found out my wife and I were Pregnant with our son Parker, we traded in the grand Cherokee.

At the current time, I had 2 large Dogs and a baby on the way and I needed something with a fair bit more space. I am currently driving our grand caravan full time though we only have 1 dog now. I use the van more for moving building supplies for upgrading our current house.

There it is how I started off with a car and ended up driving a minivan.

Thanks for reading

-Daniel

 

 

 

A Dad’s Perspective on Cloth Diapering

My wife Courtenay and I both started preparing to have a baby the moment we found out we were pregnant. It was a bit premature to start so early, but we wanted to get some of the important decisions out of the way. Also, I was extremely excited that I was going to be a Dad!

One important decision we made was whether to use cloth diapers or disposable diapers. At first the thought of cloth diapers was disgusting to both of us and after seeking advice from our parents about cloth diapers they advised us against it. They told us it was messy and pinning a cloth diaper on a baby was at times difficult. They also questioned how we would wash them, and if a laundry service was required.

Truth is that the diapers of the past were messy and created hassles when it came to cleaning. People would complain about the diapers smelling and the nuisance of arranging a laundry service to come pick up and drop off the cloth diapers. My wife spent many hours researching the different types of cloth diapers, cloth diapers companies and read many reviews. Courtenay discovered that the days of arranged pick up were less common and we could easily wash the cloth diapers at home in our own washing machine. I was a little wary about how a washing machine could handle soiled cloth diapers and what would be done with the poop. We decided to use disposable liners so that no poop ever really touches the cloth diapers. I am happy to report the liners are super easy to use and I have never had to deal with poop more than I would if it was a disposable diaper! The soiled liner goes directly into the garbage! Having to potentially touch poop was why I was originally unsure of cloth diapers, but once I learned I wouldn’t have to touch poop all the time I was on board!

However, there are some disadvantages to cloth diapering. In our case, we still use disposables when we go out. Many cloth diaper companies sell wet bags for your soiled diapers. But the thought of being out potentially all day with dirty soiled diapers still is a bit too gross for me! We also use a disposable diaper at night because Parker sleeps 8-9 hours and is a very heavy wetter at night. Also, we wash the cloth diapers every 2-3 days to ensure they always come out clean and that way no stink hangs around. Not a huge disadvantage though as you are only doing 2-3 extra loads of laundry a week.

One huge benefit of using the cloth diapers is how much safer they are to use compared to disposables. What I mean by this is with disposable diapers you have all sorts of chemicals added to create a high absorbency and to neutralize smells. Cloth diapers don’t have these harmful chemicals which get absorbed into the baby’s skin. Also, because most cloth diapers are made of cotton, microfiber, or bamboo the diapers are more breathable and can causing less skin irritation and less diaper rashes. I can notice the difference between cloth and disposable when I change Parker. His skin doesn’t look as red and irritated in cloth as when he has been using disposable diaper.

Another benefit of using cloth over disposable diapers, and the one that had the most influence on our decision was the cost savings. The average disposable diaper in a store near us is about 15-25 Canadian cents per unit. Cloth diapers have a larger initial up front cost, however, when you factor in the life of the cloth diaper and the fact that many cloth diapers can be deep cleaned and sold second hand, the cost drops drastically. You could also save the cloth diapers and use them again if you are planning to have more children. When Parker was younger we were using about 15-20 diapers a day, it has since dropped to 8-10 times per day. Now imagine you are buying a year supply of disposable diapers at the above rates, for Parker it works out to more than 700 dollars for diapers alone. We have a relatively large cloth diaper stash (Courtenay claims we have close to 50) and we paid less than $300, including taxes and shipping.

We also decided to use one size cloth diapers, meaning that they are adjustable in the waist and rise. Some of them use all snaps and some we have use Velcro at the waist for an even better fit. The cloth diapers are also fun because you can buy them in lots of different patterns! Some of my favorite patterns we have are: motorcycles, fire trucks, puppy dogs and monsters!

Dad approved!

-Dan

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Dreaded Baby Helmet

Our son Parker was born with a flat spot on his head. Normally a flat spot on an infants skull is not a cause for concern, as in many instances the skull will naturally fill out and reshape itself as the baby grows.

We are not entirely sure why Parker was born with a flat spot. He had a rough delivery that required vacuum assistance and was also born with an umbilical cord 1/4th the length of a typical umbilical cord. The vacuum assistance is thought to have possibly caused “Torticollis”, essentially a tightness in the neck muscles causing him to favor one side over the other. Another possibility is that due to his short umbilical cord he was in a prolonged position in the womb that caused more pressure on one side of his skull.

As mentioned before, Parker was born with this flat spot so it was something we noticed right away. His head was pretty swollen at birth due to the trauma, but we noticed as the swelling improved and went down, his skull still had a flat spot. We brought this to several of our Doctors attention, but we were told that this concern usually resolves itself and to encourage Parker to lie on the other side. We tried everything we could think of to get Parker to lie on the other side, but it is not as easy as it sounds! We hung toys only on the right side of his play mat, to encourage him to turn and lie that way, as the flat spot is on the left side. We rotated which direction he faced in his crib every night as suggested too. We also never let him sleep in his car seat unless we were out and at home he always slept in his crib, never his swing. At home he was held often as we didn’t want to put him down in his swing that could potentially make the flat spot worse. But alas, our efforts yielded no results and by 4 months of age it was clear that something else needed to be done, as none of the suggested methods had been working. It is also incredibly hard to try to reposition a baby who has discovered how to roll!

The baby helmet was first brought up by our Family Doctor and my first thought was ‘no way would our baby need it!’. I was convinced he was one of the babies whose skull would naturally correct itself. Besides, I had heard the baby helmet was annoying and expensive! After the appointment I went home and began researching the baby helmet, or Starband as it is officially called. I could not find a lot of information online, but what I did find did not reassure me. How come it is easier to find horror stories online than it is success stories? I found out the Starband costs $2500 and is not covered by our Provincial Health Care as it is considered a “cosmetic” problem and not a medical one. I could not believe it, $2500?! Yikes!

We got referred to the Children’s Hospital in our city and during the assessment I was told that Parker would indeed need the helmet. I was assured that there was nothing medically wrong, but since Parker had a flat spot since birth it was highly unlikely the flat spot would resolve itself. I could feel the disappointment and the guilt starting to wash over me. Had I done everything I could have to encourage him not to lie on the flat spot? What if I had opted for a caesarean instead of having him vacuum assisted? I felt like I had somehow failed, and the helmet would be a daily physical reminder of this failure.

After a lot of back and forth we finally decided to try the Starband and will share the results as we get them. The decision on whether or not to get the helmet is a personal one that is different in every situation. Please keep this in mind as you read our opinion and results of the helmet. What is right for our baby may not be right for your baby!

The Starband is actually pretty cool! They did a scan of Parker’s head to create a custom fitting helmet. The areas of the skull that already have sufficient growth touch the inside of the helmet when it is being worn. The slight and gentle compression of these areas encourages the brain to grow and fill out the areas that are flatter, as the flatter areas are not touching the helmet and have room to grow. I was told the brain will take the path of least resistance when growing.

Parker has been wearing the helmet for a week now, and so far so good. He has to wear it for 23 hours a day, with the band only off an hour for cleaning. The treatment is usually 4 months long. I have to say, so far it is easier that I imagined it would be! Parker does not seem to care about the helmet and it has not effected his sleep at all! If anything, the helmet bothers Dan and myself more than it does Parker! So far I am glad we decided to get the helmet and am eager to see the results!

Here is a before photo:

I will post updates and progress photos though out our adventure with the baby helmet. Fingers crossed we see results!

-Courtenay