Friday, September 28, 2007

Because messes are inevitable

Since it was so convenient to have a little plastic bag on hand when I went to the zoo with Rachel, I was thinking about how I could keep a few in my car. I wanted them to be contained in one place and easy to get to. So the other night I came up with a ridiculously quick and easy and cheap solution: I covered a paper towel tube with wrapping paper and stuck some in there. Ta-da! I know, you're jealous and want to make one too.

Ok, here's what you need: A paper towel or wrapping paper tube*, the plastic bags you want to have on hand and five minutes. Unless you like the looks of that cardboard tube as is, you'll also want some wrapping paper, tape (or glue) and scissors. (Or, if you have kids, you could skip the wrapping paper and let them decorate the tube(s) with stickers or whatever you have on hand.)

This is a great use for that little piece of wrapping paper that's left on the roll or that annoying uneven piece.

If you're using wrapping paper, just cut it to size, cover the tube, and tape or glue it on. Cut it in half once it's covered if you'd like. (I used a paper towel roll and didn't cut it, so it won't get lost under the seat of my car.)

Now for the bags - just fold in (more-or-less) thirds and roll them up. This only takes a matter of seconds, assuming you keep your inner perfectionist in check.

Then stick the bags one by one into the tube.

I put the whole enchilada under the front seat of my car to await the next spill or chocolate meltdown or...other thing that needs bagging. You might want an extra one for your diaper bag or stroller.

Have another idea? Feel free to comment. :)

*I don't recommend using a toilet paper tube because it could be germy. Don't think about that or the toilet-paper-tube crafts you did as a kid for too long. Actually, my Mom's preschool no longer reuses them for that reason. If you want a cardboard tube that size, cut a larger one down.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Last day for the price poll

Do you pay bargain prices for everything you purchase or do you not bother shopping around? Are you willing to pay more for foods that you feel are healthier? What about items that are made in America or made from higher quality stuff?

Share your opinion by participating the "Paying the Price" poll today by 4:00 pm PST (US).

Edited to add: Yep, you can choose more than one option. :)

Read more here.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Positive (Diaper) Changes

You would think that a baby with a wet diaper would be finished doing his/her business awhile, but that's not always the case. Boys are particularly notorious for "sprinkling" on the person who is changing their diapers. One way to avert unwelcome surprises is by placing a wash cloth over the danger zone. Or, for extra cuteness, there's also a product made just for baby boys called (are you ready for this?) the Pee-pee Teepee. Funny, huh? But it got great product reviews. They come in packs of 5, and they're washable. You can see the designs offered at Bibbity Boppity Baby (google it and you'll find other places you can purchase them as well).

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Nappies for the Planet

Here's a great article that talks about the environmental impact of different types of diapers and how you can make either disposable or cloth diapers a greener choice. I know a lot of you are interested in this topic, so I thought I'd post a link. Enjoy!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

You know, for kids...

The Picnic
Living in a world of grownups means kids relish things that are made for them. So when the Hubs and I were making the sandwiches yesterday for a picnic with our niece, Rachel, we cut them into quarters - a sandwich format that is more fun and easier for little fingers to hold, although (arguably) messier when it comes to PBJs. Also, I don't think Rachel would've finished a whole sandwich, but she did eat four sandwich triangles. Sneaky, huh? ;)

The Ballet
We took Rachel, and our picnic, to Ballet Under the Stars. Once the performance started, Rachel sat captivated by the dancers - for a bit. I guess first grade really wears you out, because she was tired and wanting to go home halfway through the first piece. And therein lies the beauty of these free, introduce-your-kids-to-the-arts functions: you can imbibe a little culture, and then if the kid is tired/cranky/hungry, you can leave without feeling any pressure to "get your money's worth." So we stuck around until the people whose stuff we were watching got back from the bathroom, and, by then, I think we'd seen most of the performance anyway. So it all worked out.

The Zoo
This morning Rachel and I dropped the Hubs off at work (poor guy) and then went to the zoo. She played for a long time in the splash playground and got thoroughly soaked. On a normal hot sunny Arizona day, she would've dried in no time, and maybe that's why I forgot to bring a towel. If you were in Phoenix today, you already know it wasn't a normal day. It was cloudy, humid and just cool enough to make a wet Rachel shiver. Fortunately, I had thrown a hoodie in my backpack on the off chance it would get chilly and/or rainy later on. She was happy to wrap up in that and wander around the zoo like a mini-Jedi.
Lesson learned: You can't/won't always bring everything you'll need, so bring enough to improvise.

I also took the suggestion of bringing a bread bag for Rachel's wet swimsuit. Yep, handy.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Not for all the toys in China...

I heard this interview on NPR yesterday with New York Times journalist David Barboza about the recalls of toys and other goods made in China. He believes the reason Chinese manufacturers cut corners (on quality, safety, etc.) is pressure from U.S. companies to cut prices. Americans love deals, but we get more than we bargained for with lead paint covered trains and the like. (For extra credit, you can read Barboza's article "Why Lead in Toy Paint? It's Cheaper.")

Really, this goes beyond China. It's a question of what's worth paying for - a question we face often as we sort through a wide range of available products at widely differing price points. Like when I'm in the produce section wavering between organic and inexpensive: sometimes I buy organic and feel bad that I could've paid less for my veggies; other times I buy non-organic and promise to change my bargain-seeking pesticide-consuming ways once we have a baby on the way. The question has many forms. Generic or brand name? A fast food burger or a sit-down salad? Imported or domestic? Mass produced or well made?

When are you willing to shell out a little more cash? Take the poll on the right, and feel free to post additional comments here.

Monday, September 17, 2007

What I learned in preschool

During the last two weeks I was filling in as a teacher’s aide for the three-year-olds' class at Trinity Preschool and Kindergarten in Mesa.

A few things I found out...

  • Mixing finger paint with dish soap will help it wash out easier.
  • Even though some kids love getting messy, others can't stand it.
  • Ear infections can come on suddenly - sometimes without a fever.
  • Needing to go to the bathroom can be contagious.
  • Getting hands washed (well) is more complicated than it seems.
  • The day that Mom is in the classroom is the best time to act up.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Knot so fast

So I came across these Knot It brand diaper disposal bags. I hadn't really thought about it before, but having a pack of plastic bags in the car or diaper bag could come in handy - for more than just dirty diapers.

The thing about these is that they come in a neat little dispenser, and what you really have is one long piece of bag material that you cut to size as needed (there's some kind of cutter on the container) and knot to form a bag. The versatility of being able to have the right-sized bag for the job is nice. Although I'm thinking that when a sticky situation arises that requires a disposal bag, you're not going to want a lot of extra steps. Also, one product review pointed out that it's hard to know exactly how much bag you need to cut off, and how frustrating to mess that up - when you've already got a mess on your hands!

It turns out there are other brands of disposal bags out there. I had no idea there was a whole market for this, but I found sacks claiming to be sassy or fresh (cute website points!) or even green (as in biodegradable and in color). None of those seemed to come in as handy of a container, but none of them needed to be cut and knotted either. Trade offs, I guess.

After more googling, I found this tip, originally from The Dollar Stretcher: instead of buying disposal bags, you can reuse bread or newspaper bags. They don't come in a neat container, but they're already a good size for a lot of things. Plus, the price is right.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Are you ready?

Ready for a break from changing diapers (or researching types of diapers)? This "Preparation for Parenthood" list made me laugh, and I hope you enjoy it, too.

It's not just a matter of reading books and decorating the nursery. Here are 12 simple tests for expectant parents to take to prepare themselves for the real-life experience of being a mother or father.

(Read the rest of "Preparation for Parenthood" here.)

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Perplexing prefolds

Getting back to the diaper discussion, I finally understand why "prefolds" are called that.

For those of you who, like me, are new to all this, prefolds are a type of cloth diaper (specifically, the kind in the photos). They lay flat - unlike disposable diapers and many cloth ones - but you can't call them "flat diapers," because that's a different type. This baffled me until I got a history lesson.

In my grandma's day, diapering a baby first meant "building" the diaper by stacking several pieces of cloth. You would fold the ones in the center to add extra layers where they were needed most.

The diapers my mom used for my brother and I had already been folded, stacked, and sewn together. Ergo, the term "prefold" is appropriate, even though, to the naked eye, they don't appear to be folded.

Everyone together now, "Ohhhhh!"

Photos by ZelenyOko. (Creative Commons license)

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Babies in Bolivia - part 2

As promised, just a few more pics....

Babies are adorable wherever you go.

Here's a woman with her homemade "backpack." Sometimes we'd see women carrying babies on top of their stuff, but I don't think anyone was quick enough to get a photo.

It's so hard to get kids to wash their hands. Do you think motivational posters in the bathroom would help?