My recent “parent hacks”

June 4, 2010 by  
Filed under Tips and Tricks

I have had so many little things to blog about lately that I haven’t gotten to. Just to cross some off my list, here are some of my “parent hacks” that I wanted to share:

-thick baby socks are great to put pedialyte pops in when your kids are sick – no cold hands! Also I like to cut the pops in half with a knife so they are smaller and  more manageable for a sick little kid (works well for the ice pop ones too).

-thin kid socks are great for covering ice packs  (we decorated some socks as puppets and have used those as ice pack covers too since they are more fun).

-flavored yogurt is often too sugary to me so I mix a big flavored one with a plain one in a pitcher and just pour it into cups for the kids. We use a lot of yogurt and this saves me time. The spout can get a little messy after repeated pouring but it still gets the yogurt neatly into cups and my kids are getting less sugar.

-oh almost forgot this one: you can fix broken Silly Bandz by placing them on a piece of wax paper and using a tiny drop of crazy glue! One of the boys asked me to fix a cat one he really liked and so I had to try and it worked!

Dad Tip – How to silence those noisy toys

November 26, 2008 by  
Filed under Tips and Tricks

A few years ago we got Ethan a Sit and Spin for Christmas.  Being the organized parents that we are, all the wrapping was taking place in the wee hours of Christmas Eve.  We wanted to have the Sit and Spin ready to go so we put the batteries in and gave it a test.  The noise was so loud it put us into the mad “hide the toys, the kids might be coming” mode.  Luckily, Ethan slept through it, but we were horrified that we were about to willingly introduce a headache inducing toy into our household.  That was a job reserved to grandparents and regifting birthday guests.

Despite the hour and my desire for sleep, I ran down the stairs and returned with a screwdriver and black electrical tape.  Fortunately, the Sit and Spin was easy to open and I quickly found the speaker.  A few pieces of tape, a minute to reassemble and voila!  The volume had been reduced from the “get your attention in the noisy toy store” volume to the “grant me sanity in my own home” level.

The Ice Cube Alarm Clock

September 30, 2008 by  
Filed under Tips and Tricks

One of my biggest concerns about Ethan starting Kindergarten was our morning schedule. I wasn’t worried about getting the kids up in time, I was concerned that my habit of hitting the snooze alarm… repeatedly… for as long as an hour… would make us all late. My solution was the Ice Cube Alarm clock. I told the boys that when they wake up they can get 1 ice cube and use it to get me out of bed. If you’re looking for an effective way to get both your kids and yourself up and moving in the morning, this is it.

On a  typical morning I now wake when I hear footstep hurrying down the stairs.  If that doesn’t bring me out of dreamland, the sound of the ice maker dispensing a cube certainly does.  I then pretend to sleep while I wait for the cube.  Luckily the boys haven’t caught on to the entertainment value of putting the cube down my shirt and usually go for an arm or a foot.  They’re so funny and cute when they do this that I really don’t mind at all and it sures makes them happy to get up.  The only problems we’ve had is that it is now a race to see who will get me first.  I think I will change the rules and tell them they EACH need to get a cube and wake me at the same time.

The only other rules we have is that they have to be quiet (which is easy since they prefer the sneak attack) and they are NOT allowed to do this to mom or their sister.  Their uncle, however,  is fair game whenever he sleeps over.

Cell Phone Flashlight

May 23, 2008 by  
Filed under Tips and Tricks

A few weeks ago we had a power outage in the middle of the night.  I woke up when I heard Ben crying and making his way down the stairs.  After stubbing my toes a few times I met him at the bottom of the stairs and carried him over to our bed.  Curious as to what time it was, I made my way to the kitchen and found my cell phone in the basket where I keep my keys.  When I flipped it open I was blinded by the light on the display.  That was when inspiration it…my cell phone makes a good flashlight!  I used it to find my way back to bed, hitting a button whenever the screen dimmed.

Next time your lights go out, instead of fishing blindly in the junk drawer for your flashlight, grab your cell phone.  It will provide a nice combination of light, time, and, of course, a phone.

Easy gluing for kids

February 29, 2008 by  
Filed under Tips and Tricks

Grandma Penguin got the boys each a little wood kit and last night we decided to put them together. The kits contained about a dozen wood pieces that you glue together and then can paint. Last night was the gluing stage and tonight will be painting.

I was a little unsure of the best way for the kids to apply the glue when I remembered a tip from a woodworking show – use a paintbrush! Each kit came with a cheapo brush so I set them to work ‘painting’ the glue onto the appropriate surface and sticking them together. Worked great and we had a lot of fun.

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Solution for faulty diapers

January 29, 2008 by  
Filed under Tips and Tricks

ParentHacks has the answer for what to do when you have a faulty diaper.

If the tab breaks as you’re trying to put a disposable diaper on your squirmy little one (and isn’t it always when you’re in a hurry?), there’s still hope!  Go ahead and fasten the tab on the other side.  Now put on a second diaper right over the top of that one – intact tabs holding both securely.  When it’s time for a change, remove the broken-tabbed inner diaper, and refasten the former outer diaper securely.  Voila! 


Obvious solution, yet it never occurred to me.  Tips like these are what I love about ParentHacks.

A Cheesy Tip

January 26, 2008 by  
Filed under Tips and Tricks

I’ve been on a cheese and cracker kick lately, but the flavors I like (sharp cheddar, horseradish) are not popular with the kids. During our last trip to the grocery store I noticed they had their deli muenster cheese (or ‘monster’ cheese as the boys call it) cut into big blocks. I grabbed one for them to eat with crackers and mentioned it to Heather while waiting for our order at the deli. The deli woman overheard us and said they can cut any of their deli cheese into blocks like that. In retrospect it is so obvious, but I never thought of asking for muenster or white american cheese in a big block.

Next time you’re planning on having cheese and crackers, get a block of your kids’ favorite deli cheese so they can join in too.

Nigel Marven – Arctic Exposure

December 20, 2007 by  
Filed under Reviews, Tips and Tricks

With the writer’s strike in full swing and no new shows in our TiVo todo list I decided to do some searching and find a few good nature shows to watch with the kids.  As luck would have it, Ethan and Ben’s favorite wildlife presenter, Nigel Marven, has a new series on Animal Planet called Arctic Exposure.  The series follows Nigel as he takes us to  see all the amazing wildlife in the Canadian arctic as Spring arrives.  We all love the show and so far it has been very kid friendly and informative.

We will definitely be looking to buy this when it comes out on DVD.  In the meantime, check out the schedule and I recommend starting from the beginning because Nigel makes several visits to some of the animals to see how they are doing (like the adorable arctic fox cubs).

TIP –  If you have a TiVo, take advantage of your keyword search tool.  I performed a keyword search for “Nigel Marven” and saved it.  Now whenever one of Nigel’s shows is on any channel it will be recorded.  This is also a great way to record talk show appearances.

Christmas decoration storage tip

December 11, 2007 by  
Filed under Tips and Tricks

A little early for posting a tip on putting Christmas decoration away, but I figure most parents are a little too crazed after the holidays to be looking up tips. Just read this one and file it away in memory for when the time comes.

A couple years ago we bought one of those inflatable outdoor Christmas decorations. Setting up the decoration was easy and the kids loved it. What I didn’t like was untangling the tied down strings the following year! I tried wrapping them up when I put them away the year before, but they still got tangle and it took forever to get the mess straightened out. When I put them away that year I came up with this idea for preventing a repeat of that birds nest and it worked perfectly.

dscf5690.jpg I cut the flaps off of two boxes (had plenty of these lying around after Christmas) and cut 4 notches on each side.
dscf5693.jpg Next I put one end of the string through one of the notches to hold it securely.
dscf5694.jpg Now wrap the string around the cardboard and secure the other end in the notch on the opposite side.
dscf5689.jpg Repeat for the rest of your strings. That’s it! A cheap and easy way to store these buggers.

My last piece of advice…don’t bother trying to fit these decorations back in their original box. Buy a big rubbermaid, I prefer clear, and throw them all in there along with the extension cords and timers.

Backyard ice rink tip – keeping your hose thawed

December 6, 2007 by  
Filed under Backyard Ice Rink, DIY Projects, Tips and Tricks

I came up with a nice, easy way of storing my hose for the ice rink season. My first year doing this I learned the hard way that you should never leave your hose outside in the winter. It will freeze and take forever to thaw out. I started keeping the hose in a rubbermaid to cart in and out and stored it in the basement next to the furnace.

This year I decided to use a big red bucket that we use for ice and drinks during parties in the summer. The trick is to coil the hose in the bucket starting with the end you attach to the faucet. Leave enough hose sticking out so it will reach the faucet. Coil it all in neat so you get no kinks and voila, a much neater and more management hose storage. I just hook it up to the faucet and pull out however much hose I need to reach the rink. The handles on the bucket are useful for keeping the ends in the bucket so I don’t drip on the floor when I bring the whole thing inside. A warm hose makes your ice resurfacing go much quicker.

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