Sunday, July 28, 2013

Ten Toddler Water Play Activities

Next month starts the beginning of our fourth year stationed here in Charleston. And I'm still not used to this constant, terrible heat and humidity. I've been trying to come up with fun outdoor activities to keep us cool without spending a lot of money. Here's a list of 10 water activities we've been doing to keep Lizzie entertained. (Note: Lizzie is only 14 months so most of these are geared toward the younger-end of the toddler range.)


  1. Playing with the hose. This is so, so basic but even a light stream of water is enough to entertain her as she makes puddles and gets the dog wet.
  2. Water "Table." I've been hoarding all these plastic storage containers every time we move so I have quite a collection. Instead of spending money on an actual water table, I just fill one of the shallow ones up and give her some old food storage containers to play with. When I see she wants to get in I move it to the grass in case of tip-overs.
  3. The Pool. Of course! We have an inflatable one that I just barely fill up so she can run around in. It's not enough water to swim in by any means, so if she falls she never gets her face underwater. 
  4. Practice Pouring. Get some plastic cups and have your toddler practice pouring water like they do in this post at Hands On As We Grow.
  5. Water the Plants. Use your own plant waterer or make them their own out of an old milk carton. 
  6. Help Wash the Car! Giant sponge. Bubbles. Water. Need I say more? 
  7. Ice, Ice, Baby. Cheap and easy. The ice in my fridge gets creepy fast so I'm dumping it fairly often anyway. Lizzie loves the contrast between the cold of the ice and the heat of the cement on our porch. Or throw it in your pool and watch it melt.
  8. Go Outside In the Rain. I think it's rained almost every day this summer here in Charleston. As long as it's a only a light rain with no thunder or lightning, we've been out there getting muddy.
  9. Good Old Fashioned Sprinkler. Why waste money on some plastic "kids" sprinkler when the old-fashioned kind is cheaper and can take a beating.
  10. Buckets and Stuff. We have a couple old beach buckets Lizzie loves playing with. I'll add water and find random things in it (leaves, grass, stones, etc.). She loves sorting through it and getting the stuff out, or, depending on her mood, adding to the bucket.

Monday, July 15, 2013

How to Insert an Animated GIF Into Your Blogger Post


So this how-to has been a long time coming, and I'm posting here for two reasons: to help anyone else who was frustrated trying to figure out how to do this, and (more importantly) to remind myself how to do this when I inevitably forget. I spent hours trying to figure out how to make a GIF, then hours trying to get the animation to work in my blog. 


 photo bloggergif_zps41dc1636.gif

Of course, I am not an expert, and every computer/setup is different. This is how I managed to finally get it to work on my computer. I use Photoshop Elements and Safari. 

Start by making your animated GIF. To do this, save each frame in a new layer in Photoshop. Make sure your image is low resolution. 

Go file-save as GIF. Select "layers as frames."

Make sure you select animation, loop, and the timer that you want. Preview to make sure you are happy with it. (I discovered that the time won't change from .2 in my version of Photoshop Elements unless I deselect animation and loop after I change the timer, then reselect it quick. I'm not sure why that does that.)

Load your GIF onto an online photo sharing website. There are a lot of different ones you can use, I use Photobucket.

Once uploaded, select the "share" feature and get the HTML code for sharing your image.

Go to "edit" on the blogger post you'd like to add the GIF to.

In the upper left-hand corner of your navigation bar, select "HTML." Paste the GIF code that you grabbed from your photo share website where you want the GIF to appear.

If you go back to "Compose" from "HTML," you can easily edit things like positioning, etc... If you don't want your GIF leading back to the Photobucket website that you pulled it from, remove or change the first web address in the code. 

I hope this helps some people, though if you are running completely different programs than I am, there are tons of tutorials online that you can check out. Good luck! 

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Weaning

Well, I'm finally taking the plunge. After 13 months, I've decided it's time to start the weaning process with Lizzie. It's hard, because I know that if I left it up to her, she'd probably still be breastfeeding past her second birthday. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but I'm ready to call it quits. It's been such a great bonding experience for both of us, and I can't imagine that we would be so close if I had bottle fed. But I'm looking forward to a little more independence and I'm not going to lie, I'll enjoy not having my boobs bitten, clawed at, and pinched anymore.

I knew I wanted to breastfeed from the beginning but when Lizzie was born, the first six weeks were a real struggle. She didn't figure out the latch until the day we left the hospital, and for some reason the first couple months of breastfeeding were painful. Really painful. But we eventually figured it out and for the next year I loved the special snuggle time we had, and the instant calming effect nursing had. She thrived on breastfeeding, and apart from poo-pocalypse has never been sick, for which I totally credit bf. 

We're down to just morning and nights now. I'm in a wedding this September and I hope to be done before then. Her feedings now are more like snacks, and I think she would be okay if I cut them out in the next couple weeks. And the thought of that makes me just a little sad, especially as she has discovered her new BFFs: Fingers and Thumbs. 

Thursday, July 4, 2013

How to Use Prefolds

I heart cloth diapers. Especially prefolds.  

I've been a cloth-diapering mama for over a year now, and I love it. Before I got pregnant, I thought people who used cloth diapers were nuts. During early pregnancy, I considered it, then dismissed it as hippie nonsense my friends were trying to talk me into. By the end of pregnancy I was game. I had done my research. 


I've tried all three of the main types of cloth diapers, prefolds, pockets, and all-in-ones. I like them all, but I find myself going back to the classics with a Snappi and a diaper cover. Why do I love prefolds? Here's my top three reasons: 



  • We have never had a blow out in them. Ever. The times I've had to wipe baby poo off a carseat, stroller, or off my daughter's back were while on vacation in disposables.
  • Very little diaper rash. A couple days, total. Not in a row either, but here or there after a particularly offensive poo.
  • Cost! When people talk about saving tons of money using cloth diapers, they are probably using prefolds. Around $1.25 a pop, and I can assure you they've all ready paid for themselves.  I even spend an extra $10 or so every couple months to pay for the disposable liners to flush the poo away. 
And guess what? The next child will be really cheap. If I can restrain from buying unnecessary diapers for fun, we could easily just spend the cost of the flushable liners once solids start.

Curious about prefolds but not sure how they work? Here's how I fold them: 

I start by placing the diaper cover under the prefold. It's much easier to get everything ready before the baby has a chance to wiggle too much.



There are a couple folds to use, but I use what they call the burrito fold. Leave the back wings up while folding in between the legs. 



Bring the fold forward. If the fabric goes up too high, tuck it in before you add the Snappi. Pull the Snappi from one side, grab the other wing and bring it forward as you attach the Snappi on the other side.



Attach the diaper cover. I prefer the ones with snaps, though I know a lot of people who like the quickness of the velcro.



They are a little bulkier than disposables, but for me the benefits far outweigh the bulkiness. Plus, there's nothing cuter than a little cloth-diaper booty running around the house!