I Survived Flying With Toddlers, So Can You!

Posted 01-23-2015 at 04:30 PM by Banana Cat

Recently, I flew across the country with two kids for the first time. My husband was with me, but our kids are three and one and often after 8 hours with them I feel a bit insane—and that’s when I have an entire city at my disposal in which to drag them around. Spending several consecutive hours smushed between them, trapped in a narrow metal tube with 150 other people sounded like a very special punishment for all the stupid things I’ve ever done in my entire life.

I was so freaked out about the entire trip that a couple of weeks before I sat down and wrote an item-by-item list of things to pack for every person in our family. It was color coded by person and which piece of luggage each item would be packed in and everything, and if you knew how incredibly unorganized I usually am (once I lost the baby monitor and eventually found it in the refrigerator, because DUH, where else would it have been?), you’d appreciate how much I was stressing out to the point where I’d do something like that. Then I hit up the dollar section of Target and threw whatever looked semi-interesting into my cart. Usually I like quality toys, often wood, and carefully budget for them, and don’t (often) bribe my kids with junk food, but this time I strapped them into the front of the cart and shoved Icees into their hands to distract them from seeing the sheer amount of crap I was tossing in the basket. I am sure every other parent in the store was glaring judgmental daggers at me.

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How is it that when you travel, you always feel like you’re bringing way too much and not enough at the same time?

Diaper Swapers

Don’t Apologize For Your Messy Home, Please!

Posted 01-16-2015 at 04:16 PM by Banana Cat

“Come in,” said my neighbor, flashing me a shy smile as she held open the door with some hesitation. Her 9 month old and my then-2 year old and 6 month old were having a playdate. “And, um, I’m so sorry about the mess.”

I looked around as we entered. The floors were swept clean. Her kitchen counter sparkled. A small box of toys sat in the very corner of the room, behind a couch. All the toys were actually in the box. The 9 month old sat in a jumpy seat and looked up at me as she gnawed on a stuffed bunny. She grinned and the bunny fell onto the crumb-less carpet, followed by a trail of drool. My neighbor was in front of her daughter in a flash, wiping the drool up and tossing the bunny back into the toy box. “I didn’t really have time to clean up much this morning,” she apologized again as my two year old ran straight to the toybox, dumping everything out, and my 6 month old promptly spat up onto the floor.

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“Play-based learning.” Also known as, “OMG, I was only in the bathroom for TWO MINUTES, where did that paint even come from?!”

Last week, I visited another neighbor, who has a 4 year old and a 20 month old. “Come in,” she said, opening the door, “and, um, I’m so sorry about the mess. We were doing our once-a-month cooking last night and didn’t get a chance to clean everything up and then the kids—well, anyway, you know.”

I Eventually Gave My Child Formula and Everything is Fine

Posted 12-8-2014 at 10:17 AM by Banana Cat

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It’s no secret: I nursed both of my kids.

According to the Internet Moms of today, this is the Correct Way Of Doing Things. I don’t really care about the Correct Way Of Doing Things much (perhaps it’s the Catholic schoolgirl in me still being a bit rebellious), but I did find myself, over the past three years, having to defend my decision to nurse my kids. While I never got kicked off a plane or humiliated in public, I did have to deal with a family for whom breastfeeding was not “normal,” and the few disgusted looks occasionally thrown my way in public. Still, I nursed my eldest until she self-weaned at 19 months of age, and I intended to nurse my youngest until he weaned as well.

I was pretty certain he’d wean early. Already at 9 months he was an amazing eater of solid foods, cutting back on his milk feedings, and eating as much as his 2 year old sister at mealtimes (sometimes even more, if she were going through a spontaneous picky stage. Actually, he often finished her meals, too). What I wasn’t prepared for was for myself to be diagnosed with a condition for which medication was not nursing-safe when he was only 11 months old.

Tutorial: Easy Embroidery Hoop Art

Posted 12-2-2014 at 12:48 PM by Banana Cat

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The first time I saw embroidery hoop art pop up on Pinterest or some other artsy site I was browsing instead of making dinner or doing other productive things, I thought, “What a great, cheap idea!” I have a billion scraps of fabric and just as much, if not more, empty space on the walls (coincidentally, I also have a stack of picture frames that “I’ll put up this weekend” shoved in a corner of the apartment somewhere), so I figured the next time I was at the store I’d just grab some embroidery hoops and then, voila, I’d be hip and modern with my super-trendy wall art.

One day I went to the craft store and looked at the embroidery hoops. I don’t remember what store I was in, but it must have been some upscale place because the price of the wooden embroidery hoops suggested they were made out of ancient, ten thousand year old rare trees. It was wood! Why was it so expensive? I picked up a plastic hoop and decided that it, too, must have been made out of ancient, ten thousand year old rare neon blue plastic for the price. Flabbergasted, I returned home and stuffed my fabric back into its bin. I wanted trendy art but not for that price!

I swung by Goodwill a few weeks ago to look for some cheap t-shirts for my kids. Way in the back of the store there was a little shelf marked “Crafts, Sewing, etc.” I hadn’t recalled seeing that before and wandered over. Immediately, wooden circles caught my eye—embroidery hoops! They must have been made out of normal, mortal-realm wood because the price was just as thrifty as I’d hoped. I brought them home, pleased that I would finally have something Pinterest-y in my home.

Wool: Beyond Diapers

Posted 11-3-2014 at 11:45 AM by Banana Cat
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These are the softest, cutest Disana overalls ever (I mean, I’m sure the fact that my son is adorable helps). Like, I’d give up chocolate for a year to buy a million pairs of these in every color.

Wool is well-known as an (often pricey, but not always) alternative to standard PUL diaper covers that dominate today’s modern cloth diapering market. There’s plenty of resources about wool covers out there. One funny thing is that once you get addicted to wool covers, both long and short, you might start wondering what other wool is out there. Some people make ridiculously awesome wool pants or wool skirts that work great as diaper covers, but also as a cute piece of fashion in and of themselves. If you start thinking you might want some more wool in your child’s wardrobe, the good news is that there’s plenty out there to choose from! Read on to learn more.

Mom Knows Best: Tricks for Flying With a Toddler

Posted 10-24-2014 at 03:21 PM by Rasha

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Packing used to be the part of the trip that you dreaded the most, but that’s all changed now that you have a toddler. Now, packing seems like the easy part when compared to the tall task of keeping a toddler content on a plane. Maybe content is even too much to ask. Most of us would simply settle for a plane ride without scowls and dirty looks from passengers because your kid is throwing a tantrum, playing too loud or playing with the long hair of the lady in the seat in front of you. Here are some tried and true tips to keep your little one in good spirits for the entire flight:

Consider the Schedule

While long flights are challenging, layovers extend your travel time even more, so book a direct flight if you can. Less connections means getting back into some semblance of your little one’s routine a little faster, so it’s usually worth spending extra money if necessary.

Tutorial: Homemade Threading Board

Posted 10-22-2014 at 02:53 PM by Banana Cat

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So I like to sew. I have a cheap plastic sewing machine, and what feels like a 5000 lb vintage cast iron sewing machine, and between the two of them I can usually sew whatever I need to, unless it’s something like a king size quilt, because we don’t have room for a quilting machine in our apartment because dumb things like the stove and refrigerator are in the way. But, sometimes I need to hand sew something a little more delicate, or I’m just way too lazy to clear off the dining table and yank out the sewing machine and all the STUFF that goes along with it. One day, I was repairing a small hole on the seam of a sweater by hand, squinting and remembering that once long ago I wore glasses and whatever happened to them anyway?, when my 2 year old came over and asked what I was doing.

“Sewing up a hole in Mommy’s sweater,” I explained.

She stood up tall and declared in the way of two year olds, “Ok. I sew too.”

Now what? I had some large, dull embroidery needles and some yarn. Sewing/threading boards are all over the place—wooden or plastic boards with large holes in them that kids can practice sewing on—but we didn’t have one. So, I put my sewing aside and declared that it was now time for an art project.

Supplies

Tutorial: Three Travel Busy Bag Ideas

Posted 10-7-2014 at 01:55 PM by Banana Cat

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Soon, it will be the holidays.

Soon, hundreds of thousands of families will pack their kids up and travel.

Soon, parents will be rubbing their temples and buying headache medication in giant Costco-sized containers.

Yes, it’s that time of year again. Parents hit the road (or sky), not necessarily because they want to, as in during the summer, but because of family obligations and gatherings. It can be hard enough to entertain a child when you’re at home surrounded by their favorite toys, but how to do so while travelling, possibly cramped in a small vehicle for hours at a time, without resorting to gluing your kid to the iPad for 6 straight hours? Thankfully, some smart parent before me has solved this problem with the invention of “busy bags”—small bags with a travel-sized activity to keep your kids busy. While there are a million different types of bags you can put together, here are three easy, low-budget ones.

Are Red Marks From My Cloth Diapers Okay?

Posted 10-3-2014 at 04:03 PM by Banana Cat

A long time ago people used pins and flat diapers to diaper their babies. One of the biggest concerns with diapers then was accidentally poking the baby with the pins used to keep the diaper in place. Nowadays, with larger, safer pins and other alternative diaper closures, jabbing baby with a sharp object is far less of a diapering concern. Instead, one of the biggest worries I see parents ask is, “I took off the cloth diaper and there are red marks on my baby’s skin! What gives?”

There are many, many reasons for red marks caused by cloth diapers, and most of them are harmless. If you’re using fabric that can bunch up, like flats or prefolds, and the red marks are on the part of the body where your baby has just been sleeping on, there is little cause for concern. You know how sometimes you wake up and you smile lovingly at your partner, pleased at the luxury of waking up together, and he or she looks back at you and bursts out laughing because you have sheet marks all over your face, and then the loving moment is totally gone? Sometimes red marks from diapers are just something like sheet marks, where the fabric folds press against baby’s soft skin while he or she sleeps. They will fade shortly.

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Elastic comes in multiple shapes and sizes on modern cloth diapers. It’s pretty good at the whole poop-containing thing.

Tutorial: The Cow and the Moon

Posted 07-28-2014 at 12:36 PM by Banana Cat

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My two year old is currently obsessed with the moon. She’s always liked looking at it when it’s visible, but it was always more of a “Oh look, a moon, hey a worm on the ground, Mommy can I have apple juice?” sort of thing.  Then one day I grabbed a science preschool moon book off the shelf at a thrift store to keep her quiet. Best $0.79 I’ve spent in a long time—it became her nighttime “Again, again!” read. She learned all the phases of the moon and eagerly ran to her window before bedtime to see what the moon looked like that night. She pointed out the moon in every other book or video she had. Everything was suddenly all about the moon, all the time.

We pulled out a book of nursery rhymes one day and read “Hey Diddle Diddle.” My daughter pointed to the picture and said, “The cow is jumping da moon? What, dat’s SILLY.” It was the most hilarious thing she’d apparently seen in a long time. So, we made a cow-jumping-over-the-moon craft, made out of simple shapes and supplies so my 2 year old could do as much as she could on her own.

Supplies

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  • A white circle. A paper plate would work perfectly for this, but we were out so we used a circle of construction paper instead
  • A piece of paper to make spots for the cow, if your cow is the spotted kind.
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • More paper to make the cow’s head and legs