Sunday, August 29, 2010

Products I Love for My Kids Part 2

1.) Crane brand Cool Mist Humidifier

Crane Adorable 1 Gallon Cool Mist Humidifier

This is one of those items that you know you will need but some how no one gets it for your baby shower.  Its not "gifty" enough or "cutesy" enough I guess.  But you will need it and when you do you will not want to have to go searching for one during cold season.

I have not tried out a bunch of these, just this one but I like it for several reasons.  1.) It is decorative (sort of) and cute.  2.) The trunk helps to direct the flow of the vapor. 3.) It is reasonably priced at around $35, in my opinion, for an item that will be used several times throughout the baby, toddler, and preschool years and maybe beyond.  Also, if you have a child with eczema or dry skin humidifiers are recommended and might be used for a whole season.

2.) A Basic Play Yard

Graco Pack n Play - Animal Time
I know there are AWESOME play yards with various features and attachments.  Here is the thing, I have huge kids.   All of those extra attachments would be useful for about 1-2 months for me.  Seeing that those ultra cool, decorative, battery powered playyards can run into the $200 range, while a basic one runs closer to $60-$70 I am saving over $100 by not getting all the fancy stuff.  Given that play yard sheets cost around $6-$10 bucks each as well (and I would make them if I had the time) the extra saved $ makes me feel less bad about buying a couple nice padded sheets that are super soft.

3.)Baby Medicine syringe.
 Baby Child Medicine Set spoon dropper syringe

This comes in a set but the syringe part is the best.   I don't know if this is the brand I get but I find mine at Walmart in the medical section near the thermometers.  Focus on the middle syringe and topper.  That bottle topper fits any sized medicine bottle and does double duty.  First, it makes for easy mess free measurements of the meds.  Second, and this is my favorite part, it allows you to get the meds out without sticking the dropper into the medicine bottle which contaminates the whole bottle with saliva or with whatever illness your baby has.  I want to get several of these syringes for the different types of meds my kids take so I don't have to deal with those dang droppers.  Also the syringe doesn't drip out the medicine like a dropper does so you have more control when getting it in a wiggling kid's mouth.

Products to pass on. Part 1

As I have some favorites I also have some products that haven't worked so well for me.

1.) Any snack container that was "spill proof".

If it was meant to trap food in while letting your kid get food out I tried it and my daughter found a way to prove the claims wrong.  The flaps they put on the lids bothered her.  She didn't like the way they felt.  But she still wanted the food.  She would start by shaking it and food would fly out if she shook hard enough or at the right angle. If that didn't work or wasn't fast enough, she would work on prying off the lid. 

Made For Mom Snack Trap, 3 PackMunchkin Two Snack Catchers, Colors May Vary

Let's assume my daughter is just your average monkey of a kid (not the genius I assume she is).  If one kid trying these stack containers out between 10-24 months can do this, I would think there are others out there that can too.  So for $3-$10 that it costs for one of these "magic" containers, its not worth it. 

I got some cute flip top ones from the dollar store and they have worked best because they are easy to get into and easy to close, and I really don't care if they get scratched or dented because they are only $1.

2.)  Teethers

Sadly, I haven't given up the search for the perfect teether.  So far though, everything I have tried has not served its purpose.  Anything specifically meant to be used to chew, gnaw, and drool on, held no interest for my daughter.  She would much rather go after board books, soft training spoons, hair brush handles, medicine droppers (the rubber part), blankets, other toys, and so on.
Learning Curve Floating Stars TeetherPhilips Avent Range Front Teeth, (BPA-Free)Razbaby RaZberry Teether

My 4 month old son is now teething and I have excitedly brought out all the paraphernalia I could find and I have even added to the collection.  I have not given up hope that these will all work for him, but the realistic side of me knows he will probably end up chewing on one of his sisters dolls or on some random household object rather than the wonderfully designed, BPA free thingamabobs that were purchased for the sole purpose of relieving his teething discomfort.

3.) The Infant Car Seat/Carrier

This one isn't really the product's fault at all. I actually love my seat and the stroller it came with.  The problem is one of genetics.  My kids have been above average in size from day 1.  My daughter was born at 8 pounds 13 ounces and my son was 9 pounds 3 ounces.  At that point they already didn't fit in newborn sized clothing and newborn diapers lasted a week.  So the infant car seat that we got with our travel system is supposed to last the baby's first year (in theory anyway.)  The weight limit is 22 lbs and the height limit is 30 inches.  My daughter was 20 lbs at 6 months and my son is on his way to meeting or beating that weight by then.  So we had to invest in a convertable seat for my daughter at around 5  months when their was a sale.  We just did the same for our 4 month old in anticipation of having to change his seat soon.

As for the "carrier" feature. Yeah right, is all I have to say.  Those seats weigh about 8-10 pounds on their own.  Sticking an 8-10 pound baby in with it made it ridiculous to carry.  It got worse when both kids were 15 lbs by 2 months old.  I, for one, am not fond of lugging around almost 25 lbs of awkward weight with a packed diaper bag and a 2 year old in tow.

The good news is about a year after we bought our system companies started making seats with higher limits, but the carrier will still not be convenient what-so-ever if you have a big, heavy baby.  Keep that in mind before spending $200-$300 on a travel system. You will have to invest in a convertible seat that will last up to 65 lbs at some point and it would be good to have a baby carrier like an Ergo or a Beco Butterfly II, which will both last through about 2 years or 35 lbs.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Amazing Whole Chicken!!!

I am a devoted fan of the boneless, skinless chicken breast.  I stock up when its on sale and always have some in the freezer.  Recently, I have ventured into new territory:  the whole chicken.  There are pros and cons to this choice though.  Pros: you can find it on sale for 60-70 cents a pound and it is always under $1 a pound, plus its easy to cook, and it covers more than one meal. Cons: The giblets are just gross and not usually in a bag like with a turkey, after you cook it you have to deal with cutting it apart and/or shredding it for future use.

To roast a chicken you do not need a lot.  A big heavy skillet (made of all metal even the handles) or a roasting pan, a few seasonings,  and some twine for trussing.

There are hundreds of roast chicken recipes online. Some call for a stuffing or intricate spices.  I like this one because I don't have to think too much or buy ingredients. Also, it is a neutral flavor so I can add spices later when I make the actual meals.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

Rinse the bird and clean out giblets, pat dry as much as possible.
Salt and pepper the inside cavity.
Truss the chicken (important step for even cooking and keeping the breast moist).
Salt the outside well, rub it into the skin and under the skin around the breast.
Place the bird breast side up..
Roast for 20 minutes per pound or until internal temp is 165 degrees.
Take it out and baste with the juices and let it sit for at least 10 minutes before cutting into it.

Take the bird apart and determine how you will use it

Options: Chicken quesadillas, enchiladas, chicken couscous, chicken wraps, chicken tacos, chicken salad, chicken with potatoes and veggies, etc.  Try to be heavy on the side dishes and light with the meat to stretch the chicken further.  For a family of 4, one chicken in the 5 lb range should be able to stretch for 3 dinners if used wisely.  That is less than $1.50 worth of meat per meal!

Cool Summer Chicken Wraps

I made this for a couple reasons. 1) I wanted to make hummus and needed a reason to use it 2.) It was hot and I didn't want to cook anything.  So out of desperation with a fussy (possibly teething) baby and a ever busy 2 year old I could make this in between the craziness of the day. We all loved it!

hummus either store bought or use this recipe
tortillas or "wraps"  I like the whole wheat kind but whatever you got is fine, burrito size works best
1 medium zuchinni, julienne
1 Red Bell pepper, julienne
about 1 breast of cooked, shredded chicken*

*I roasted a chicken earlier in the week and its great for using for several meals I usually can get 3 meals out of 1 chicken.

1. ) Heat tortilla/wrap on the stove until its warm to allow for easier folding so it won't break.
2.) spread about 2 tbsp hummus on the wrap
3.) put a handful of pepper, a handfull of zuchinni, and a small amount of chicken on the tortilla.
4.) Roll and fold burrito style, cut on the diagonal and serve.

Makes 4 Wraps (serves 1 dad, 1 mom, and 1 toddler) If you made a side dish it would be enough for 4 adults.


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