Yeah, for some reason, Charlie just barfed all over himself, then looked at us with a puzzled expression the rest of the ride home as I tried to reassure him through my own checked gag reflex that he would be alright. There didn't appear to be any real reason for the up-chuck, no fever or other sickness, it was just a one-time fluke. Try telling that to the uber-porous nylon straps of the car-seat.
When we got home, I completed the revolting task of disengaging him from the seat and thanked my lucky stars I'd packed a fluffy blanket in which I could swath him for the trip upstairs. Safely deposited in the bathtub, cleansed and rinsed, he chitty-chatted in the fresh, warm bath-water playing with his toys, bright-eyed as can be.
Meanwhile J was wrasslin' with the carseat in the kitchen, balancing it on the edge of the sink trying to use the spray nozzle to clean it out. He sure gave it the old college try and we made apologetic looks at one another as we performed the herculean feat of disassembling the seat without getting debris all over the kitchen. Thank goodness for washable covers, that's all I'm saying. I sprayed Clorox Anywhere everywhere on the seat that wasn't already in the washing machine but alas, this morning there was still the pungent reminder on the straps. There must be a solution for this out there, but I've yet to find it.
Seat re-installed in the car, and the false hope in my head that the smell would dissipate, I sprayed the straps with a citrus disinfectant/deodorizer, and we were off to a Valentine party. At that point, I heard my dad's voice in my head telling us 'The only thing air freshener does is make it smell like you pooped in a pine forest.' Light a match, open a window, air it out. But in February in New England, what's a girl to do?
Later that day when it became clear that the stink was here to stay, I seized the opportunity to turn lemons into lemonade at Babies R Us, where they're currently running a promotion for you to turn in your old baby gear (strollers, carseats, basinets, etc) and you get 25% off the price of the replacement. I had been planning to get a new seat for Charlie in the next 3-4 months anyhow as he's almost at the weight limit of his front/rear-facing convertible (which was handed down from H), so it was all in good time.
I really like the Graco Nautlilus 3-in-1 that we bought for H, but he recently graduated to using it as a high-backed booster sans harness so I got the genius idea that I would re-install the harnesses, pass that seat to Charlie and just buy H the Graco TurboBooster; problem solved, money saved (about half the price of the 3-in-1), voila!
Oh, did I mention I didn't go to the store until after Charlie's nap ended and I'd delivered dinner to a friend, placing us in the parking lot post-purchase at 5:45pm? Or that turning in a car seat means you have to assemble and install the new ones before you can be on your merry way? Or that I realized mid-install that I forgot how I got the harness out a month ago, hence wasn't at all sure I could get it back in?
One would think a person would run several scenarios through their head and plan such a trip accordingly, giving thought to the ways in which you could combat some of the bumps in the road. Like, that maybe you should wear a jacket. Or that during the period of installation you'd have a rowdy toddler strapped in the cart next to the car in the dark, wind and cold, along with an unruly 4 and-a-half year-old (the and-a-half is crucial these days) bouncing in the interior space of the car. All while you force your cold fingers to manipulate and 'Click!' (yes, the directions really say "Insert the armrest into the base until you hear a Click indicating it's securely inserted; 'Click!'") the pieces of the car seat into their proper position without pinching your skin, losing your temper, yelling at your children or threatening to spank them in a public space. Because nothing makes you feel better, or more trailer-fabulous, about the behavior you model for your children than a good old-fashioned temper tantrum.
Take a breath, you are smart, you are strong, you will make this work. Just. Push. A little. Harder! Ahh, it finally 'clicked'. Well, after 30 minutes which isn't bad for two seat protectors and two car-seats...in the dark. Best of all, my big four and-a-half year-old is mighty proud of his new 'cozy' (thanks to 'GracoPedic' foam padding) seat; and that just makes it worth all the fuss.
*Image found at http://www.freepatentsonline.com/6796584.html