Monday, October 17, 2016

Munchkin Arm & Hammer Diaper Pail Vs Diaper Genie Essentials

The good thing about being parents a second time around is that we now have a point of comparison. Unlike the first time when were totally clueless, this time we have a rough idea of what "normal" is based on our experiences with our daughter. Of course each baby is unique so having a point of comparison isn't always a good thing! We also get to compare the gear we used last time versus this time.  With the 4 year age gap we were able to preserve certain gear but other things needed to be replaced. One of those things was our diaper pail that ended up breaking right around the time my daughter was fully potty trained.

We originally bought the Munchkin diaper pail, for no other reason than a simple lack of research. When our daughter was born we were primarily focused on cloth diapering and didn't plan for a disposable diaper pail. We later realized we still needed one and the Munchkin diaper pail was the first we saw when we walked in to the store, so naturally that's what we bought. At the time I didnt even realize there were different types of pails! Oh the ignorance of a first time parent! The pail was okay for us since we didn't use it much at first. Over time though, I realized I should have done some research on it first because it didnt really live up to expectation.  This time around we went for the Diaper Genie Essentials instead and these are main pros and cons of each

Odor Control
In theory you expect the Munchkin Arm & Hammer pail to be better at odor control especially with the built in baking soda dispenser.  The reality is that the baking soda dispenser is 100% useless and the munchkin pail can get a bit stinky pretty much at the same rate as any other regular trash can.

On the other hand, the Diaper Genie completely controls odor. You literally can't smell anything, at all. This is due to the layered bag and the clamp inside the pail.

The Munchkin pail comes with individual bags that have a plastic locking system. I liked this feature because it lets you know exactly how many bags you have and once you change the bag you can just snap it closed and take it out.

The Diaper genie "bag" isn't truly a bag, instead it is a dispenser with a really long tube of plastic that is equivalent of approximately 3.5 bags.

 Each time you refill the bag you have to tie a knot at the end of the plastic to create the bottom of the first bag. When it gets full you have to use the built in cutter to cut the bag,  tie a new knot and start over. Its an odd system if you ask me. But the benefit of it is that you can create a custom size bag and don't have wait for the bag to be full before emptying it. You can choose to cut it at any point, and start a new bag without wasting an entire bag. The irony is that the process of tying a knot at the top and bottom of each bag wastes a lot of the bag which is already expensive to begin with.

The Munchkin pail is simpler and easier to use with cheaper replacement bags but the Diaper Genie has unbeatable odor control which is one of the primary reasons to get a diaper pail in the first place!

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Two babies from above!

I started this blog as a first time mom when my sweet baby girl was born four and half years ago. I wanted to keep a record of each step of our parenting experience with her. As time went on and she grew from a newborn to a toddler I posted less frequently since there weren't as many changes to note down. Three weeks ago we welcomed the newest addition to our little family, our second baby from above; a precious son. And I immediately found myself repeatedly coming back to my blog to look up information and remind myself of decisions I made with my daughter. It made perfect sense to pick up where I left off and continue recording our awesome transition to being parents of two! Stay tuned...

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Tissue paper birthday number

My little baby from above is 4 years old, can you believe it? I surely can't!  This year we kept her celebrations simple by having a little cupcake and treats party at her preschool. I also wanted to have our customary little photo shoot to capture her sweetness at this age!  All those who know me understand how much I love photography, and I jump at the chance to experiment with different light, textures and colors with new shoots all the time. Kids make the best subjects for photos, they don't worry about "bad pictures" and allow you to capture unscripted Kodak moments.

As usual I had an overload of ideas for the shoot and finally decided a simply tissue paper number 4 would be the perfect prop for her pictures!  Once the idea was planted in my head, there was no shaking it. 

I assembled all the materials I needed and got to work. For this project I used the following 
20x30x3/16 inch foam board
1 pack of pink gift tissue paper
floral twine
Fiskars heavy duty knife
Glue gun
Ruler,scissors, pencil

I stared out by drawing the large number 4 on the foam board. As you can see it took me a few tries to get it right. I did it free hand without using a template, so it was little tricky getting the proportions right at first. Can I just say once again how much I love my Martha Stewart  craft ruler? It's the ruler of all rulers and has been a trusty aid for years and years!  

Once I was finally happy with the shape of the number 4, I used the Fiskars knife to cut it out, I had a cutting mat underneath it to protect my floor.

The edges weren't perfectly straight but that was okay for my purposes. The next step was to start making the tissue paper flowers. Its been years since I last made flowers out of tissue, so I started out with the very basic look and then remembered how much better it would look if I scalloped the edges of the paper.

Firstly I took the tissue out of the pack and unfolded it. It was in layers of 8 sheets. I kept all 8 sheets together and cut through all the layers of the tissue paper into rectangles that were roughly 6x7 inches,  you could just as easily cut the paper into squares, it would still give the same effect.

Once the paper was cut into rectangles I folded them into an "accordion" or "fan", by folding over and under. Then I tied the floral wire tightly in the center of the "fan", 

For the first few simple looking flowers I "fluffed" out the layers of tissue to create the flower. 

However after the first few flowers I remembered that I could scallop the edges to create a more textured look . So for the rest of the flowers I folded the paper into a fan, then cut the edges into a scalloped shape.

Once I had enough flowers to cover the number 4, I started to glue them to the foam board number, and within no time, I was done!!

And this is the finished project in action!

I would say this a is a fairly simple DIY project and I was done with it in a few hours even with constant interruptions from my almost 4 year old little helper!!

Our photoshoot was super fun and the tissue paper birthday number served as a great prop!

Friday, November 27, 2015

Is it a brownie? Is it cookie? Its a brookie!

For thanksgiving dinner this year I decided to bring along one side dish and one dessert. I needed a dessert that was quick and easy to make, and would survive a long drive without refrigeration. After much deliberation I came across the hybrid brownie/cookie. I decided to combine a few different recipes I saw online and tailor it to suit my needs. I didn't have a lot of time on thanksgiving morning so I made a super easy version using Duncan Hines fudge brownie mix and Nestle Toll House cookie dough. I know this will taste ten times better if I make the dough and brownie batter from scratch. Tossing in a few marshmallows won't be a bad idea either!

To begin with I sprayed Pam in a 13x9 baking pan. Then I lined the bottom of the pan with one and a quarter tube of the chocolate chip cookie dough.

Next I added a layer of Oreo cookies, if your baking pan isn't deep enough you can crush the Oreo cookies up so you get a thinner layer of oreos. 

Then I mixed up the brownie batter by simply adding 2 eggs, a quarter cup of water and half a cup oil.  Once that was done I poured it on top of the oreos.

 I made sure the brownie batter completely covered the cookies.

I placed it in a 350 degrees pre-heated oven and it was done in about 35 minutes. Once it passed the toothpick test I took it out of the oven! I baked two of these at the same time and maybe that wasn't the greatest idea, the edges of the first one got a bit darker than I would have liked. Still tasted delicious though!

The smell alone made it worth it!! I thought it would be really hard to cut into but it actually wasn't. As long it has fully cooled down, cutting into it is just as easy as eating it!  As I mentioned earlier I plan to make this again soon and combine it with the s'mores recipe so there will be marshmallows, graham cracker crust and mini Hershey pieces!!

These taste best if they are warmed up right before you eat them. Smothering them in ice cream or whipped cream doesn't hurt either.

Happy Baking!

Monday, August 3, 2015

Toddler Gear: Potty Training Essentials

Potty training began quite early for us, and it wasn't intentional at all. I had been thoroughly warned by all moms that trying to start potty training too early could have dire effects {cue dramatic music} But my little girl had a mind of her own. Below I've listed all the gear we used on our potty training journey.

[1] Potty training seat
Just before her first birthday, we were finally winning our war against diaper rash when I started to notice that every single time I went to change her diaper she was completely dry and would proceed to pee on me only after I removed the diaper.  She did this consistently every single time. I happened to mention this to her pediatrician who suggested that I just place her on a potty as soon as I take off the diaper and see how that worked out. I was initially quite hesitant, she seemed way too young for a potty, but the more I thought about it, the suggestion made perfect sense. The truth is I've never liked the idea of a stand alone potty. It just seems counter intuitive, to train the child to go in the potty and then later transition them to an actual toilet. It also feels like its more work involved in having to clean out the potty after each use. So I made up my mind from the beginning we would skip right to a potty seat that fits over the toilet and save ourselves some hassle

As usual I was surprised at all the different options out there for something so basic; some seats were designed more for traditional round toilet bowls, whilst others could be adjusted to fit the more modern elongated toilets. And of course there were themed seats with different animated characters, especially mickey and the disney crew. I just wanted something simple but good quality so I decided to try the Prince Lionheart Weepod Basix.

On the manufacturers website it is advertised as being a soft, cushiony seat that provides ultimate comfort. I decided to try it because it seemed simple and straight forward to use. The seat is secured to the toilet seat with suction pads and can stand upright when not in use.

In some ways the material that this seat is made out of is similar to a bumbo seat.  The seat seemed to work well for us at first. I didnt notice anything wrong with it. And like magic my 11 month old daughter would pee in the toilet as soon as I took her diaper off and put her on the seat. I was confused by how easy it all seemed. 

Within a few months the seat developed a tiny crack underneath it and within days the cracked had widened until the seat was unusable. I contacted the manufacturer with photos of the seat showing the crack and they offered to send me a new one after I had filled out a claim form.

 The replacement seat came with additional instructions on how to remove the seat from the toilet. It stated that the proper way to remove the seat was to squeeze both sides of the seat together until the suction pads popped off the seat.  I assume this indirectly meant that I had been taking the seat off wrongly all along and that's why the seat had cracked. So I made sure to always remove the seat "correctly" but surprise surprise within a few months it was cracked again! I really didn't have the time to go back and forth with them about it again so I threw the seat out and decided I needed to find something better

This time around I bought the Bjorn Toilet Trainer Seat. This seat cost more than twice as much as our previous one but was totally worth it. We have been using this for a year now and its still good as new.

The key features that attracted me to it are as follows:
It is adjustable to fit most toilets with the aid of a dial underneath it.
It is easy to take on and off the toilet, my three year old is able to this all by herself.
Best of all there are no suction pads to worry about! I realized that this seat allows my daughter to sit more naturally on the potty than the Weepod Basix which was way to high. It also has a handle so it can be hung from a hook on the side of the toilet. I highly recommend this brand!

[2] Step Stool.  This is really a must have in my opinion. It is multi functional too so it can be used for much more than just potty training. These are some of the main reasons I decided we needed a step stool for her:
- To reach the sink to wash her hands
-To get up on the toilet by herself
-To provide support for her once she was sitting on the potty seat. Without the stool her feet just dangle in the air and if you have never tried this I challenge you to. Next time you're sitting on the toilet and trying keeping your feet up in the air... its pretty darn difficult to actually go without the support from your feet on the ground.

After looking around I decided to purchase the Bumbo step stool.

Step Stool Dimensions
15.12"w x 6.5"h x 11.125"d

It's available in a variety of colors and has been really helpful so far. It is lightweight and easy to move  around. My daughter can pick it up and move it by herself. It is designed to support all weights up to 110lbs  and it has a non slip base, so it stays put.
We also use this stool for brushing her teeth. All in all it's been great!

[3] Travel potty seat
The most nerve wracking part of potty training is venturing outside the house. Because suddenly you don't have complete control of the situation, you don't always have a bathroom close by and even if you do the toilet seats are disgusting and way too large for a tiny toddler to sit on. I came across the Kalencom Potette Plus portable potty system and it has been such a huge help in the process. It is a 2-in-1 travel potty system.

Firstly it can function as a seat that goes over a toilet. This is good for public bathrooms, the seat folds open and securely goes over the toilet in such a way that the toddler never has touch the actual toilet itself. Once your are done the seat folds down and fits into the drawstring bag that's included with the purchase. Its different from the potty seats you would use at home in that it is smaller and can be folded down to fit into a purse or diaper bag.

Secondly this portable potty can function as a full potty. This means if there is no toilet around the seat can be used as an actual potty. This is possible with the aid of either  disposable liners that go over the seat or a reusable liner that can be cleaned out and used again. The initial purchase includes three disposable liners and I also purchased the reusable liner which I keep in my trunk
I've had this travel potty for about seven months now and so far I've only used it as a seat in public restrooms and never had to use it as a full potty but its nice to know that I do have that option if I'm ever faced with that situation. Once I get home I disinfect the seat and put in a new plastic bag before placing it in the drawstring carry bag.

Reusable liner that fits over the seat
Disposable liner
I've used this seat so much, it has been really made potty training a lot less daunting for me. The only drawback is that that drawstring bag isn't the most durable bag out there and it ripped after awhile of using it.
[3] Underwear
This is actually a big part of potty training.  Transitioning from diapers to underwear is a big thing for toddlers so I ordered a variety of brightly colored underwear featuring her favorite characters as an added incentive. I tried a few brands and most of them ran large, the only brand that really fit true to size was the Fruit of the Loom brand. Despite the fact that the colors faded pretty fast, I still prefer that brand over the others just based on the fit.

[4] Vinyl Diaper Pants
I know this sounds super oldschool but for us it really worked. we only used these for a few weeks before she got the hang of things. we put her in her regular underwear and put the Dappi waterproof vinyl cover over it, so if she wet herself she would feel uncomfortable and wet but the vinyl would keep the mess contained so it wouldn't ruin all our carpets and furniture. For the most part it did work as we had hoped. We still had some leaks here and there but that can be expected with potty training. she was definitely very uncomfortable with these on once she was wet and would tell me immediately. Eventually she realized she could just tell me before and go on the potty instead of on herself.

[5]Potty Training Books
Although my daughter started going on the potty before her first birthday, we were not actively training her not to go in her diaper until she turned two.  Which meant that prior to that time, she would go on the potty when that option was available but would also have wet diapers too. Introducing potty training materials definitely laid the ground work for the process. Her godmother sent her the classic Once Upon A Potty book which has fun Play A Sound features.

This book was written by Alona Frankel in 1975 so as you can imagine its pretty old school, but still very effective. My daughter loves it!
We also got her the Potty Time With Elmo book and she loves it too.

Several people have asked me if potty books are useful. I would say they definitely are. Reading these to her really opened up the conversation about going on the potty and taught her the necessary vocabulary she needed to express herself.

[6] Disposable pull up diapers.
My daughter can't wear huggies diapers because they irritate her skin, so we went with the Pampers Easy Ups. Many people will tell you that these pull up diapers are the enemy and will sabotage your potty training process. I disagree wholeheartedly. I do agree that these pull up diapers pretty much feel the same as a regular diaper so they don't really teach the child to stop going in their diaper. However they still play an important role in the potty training process. These are good for overnight use as well as long drives or days out. We use them as our 'insurance policy' just in case she has an accident.

Overall our potty training experience has been in interesting one, I still dread the words "Momma I gotta go potty" when we are miles away from a bathroom. But somehow just like all the moms before me we've managed to laugh our way through it. Our little girl is 95% potty trained, with only a few accidents happening when she naps.  We are looking forward to reaching the 100% potty trained mark!