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Saturday, March 24, 2007

Uses For Baby Socks

Parenthacks posted a suggestion to use baby socks to keep pajama legs in place. It reminded me of my favorite baby sock use: as hand mittens. I found the mittens never stayed in place, so Ellen Steinberg recommended I try "hand socks," as I now call them. They work like a charm!

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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

2 Random Kitchen Tips: Saving Burnt Cookies & Sneaking in Veggies

  • To save burnt cookies: Use a microplane grater on the bottom of your cookies to shave off the black part. (I got this tip from an old episode of Cooking Live and used it the other day to salvage some scones.)
  • Use baby food to sneak in veggies: Actually, any pureed vegetable will work, but I happened to have a jar of peas when I was making meat loaf last week and tossed that in for good measure (I had already added some shredded carrot). I'm now ready to go out and buy a variety of jarred baby food to have on hand to add to just about everything. (I'd originally bought the jarred peas hoping to convince Alex to use them as a dipping sauce but that sure didn't work.)

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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Graco Metrolite vs. Graco Snugrider vs. Babytrend Snap-n-Go

As I've mentioned previously, I am the not-so-proud owner of a Graco Metrolite stroller. It does work well with the Graco SafeSeat , and I would have been content to use it as our only stroller for the infant carseat. But we have two cars, and living in Los Angeles, we pretty much drive everywhere. So after the second time we forgot to switch the Metrolite to the car we were driving and arrived at our destination without a stroller, we decided to get another stroller. I suppose we could have used the Graco Quattro we already own, but if you've read my post about the Quattro versus the Metrolite, you know that I loathe its weight and size. Not only would Marc and I dread taking the Quattro out of the trunk, we wouldn't be able to fit much else in there.

Enter the Graco Snugrider. Since Graco didn't make a stroller frame when Alex was born, I had used the Babytrend Snap-n-Go with his infant carseat. So, keeping in mind that my reference point is a Snap-n-Go purchased in 2005 (and that some changes have probably been made to it since), here is a comparison of the Metrolite, Snugrider, and Snap-n-Go.

First, the Metrolite. Unlike the Snugrider and Snap-n-Go, this is a "regular" stroller, i.e., it's not limited to use with infant carseats. My favorite part about it is the double-canopy effect with the infant carseat. I can never see Tyler through the little plastic window due to glare or bad lighting, but I love that I can block out almost all light and discourage nosy strangers. Plus he seems to sleep really well in this stroller. The basket is reasonably accessible when the infant carseat is in place, though you have to lower the top part. The ride seems smooth and the stroller is relatively easy to load and unload from my car. My complaints about the Metrolite are: (1) the need to lock the front wheels before folding (I actually have managed to fold it without locking the wheels but it doesn't always work); (2) the way the seatback bar can get caught under the basket bar when you open the stroller; (3) the lack of a storage compartment on the handlebar; and (4) that the netting on the end of the canopy isn't removable. My single biggest complaint about the Metrolite is that the seat buckle is ridiculously difficult to put together - it's a five-point harness but the shoulder straps detach from the side straps so you need both hands free in order to do the buckle. But this obviously isn't a problem when you're using the stroller just for the infant carseat.

Second, the Snugrider. This stroller frame is about half the price of the Metrolite, lightweight, and easy to use. Most importantly, the infant carseat fits securely. I have mixed feelings about the automatic locking mechanism - I like that the stroller doesn't fall open on its own, but I find unlocking it very awkward. I miss the double canopy but it's easier to look at Tyler without it (if he's sleeping, I use a blanket to block out his surroundings - but getting the blanket to stay when it's windy is difficult). The basket is easily accessible, but I couldn't get a paper grocery bag in there when I was at the market. There is one cup holder and one small tray but no storage compartment. All in all, I like this stroller but it could use a few improvements.

Lastly, the Snap-n-Go. The Snap-n-Go's pros are similar to the Snugrider: relatively inexpensive, lightweight, and easy to use. If I recall correctly, the Snap-n-Go's basket was not only easily accessible, it held a lot. And I think the gap between the carseat and the top of the basket was bigger than on the Snugrider, so a paper grocery bag probably would have fit. As with the Snugrider, I used a blanket if Alex was sleeping, but again, getting it to stay in place was tricky. If the infant carseat fit as securely in the Snap-n-Go as it does in the Snugrider, I would have gotten another Snap-n-Go without hesitation. But I was always a bit uneasy about having to secure the carseat with a buckle.

To sum up: If money is a major issue, go with the Metrolite (or another regular stroller) since you can use it with the infant carseat and as a regular stroller when your child outgrows the carseat. However, the Snugrider and Snap-n-Go are handy and worth it if you want a second stroller for your infant. The Snap-n-Go is $10 cheaper than the Snugrider, so if you're comfortable with security of the buckle, go for it. The Snap-n-Go would also be a better buy if you think you might use it with non-Graco carseats since it accommodates other brands.

Note: I no longer had the Snap-n-Go when Tyler was born. If I had, I would have happily used it and not gotten the Snugrider.

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Friday, March 09, 2007

Good is Good Enough

I have to admit, with great chagrin, that I am a perfectionist in the worst sense of the word. I've been working on improving myself, however, so this post from The Happiness Project about aiming for "good" rather than "perfect" was particularly meaningful to me. It's exactly what I am working on accepting - and it's comforting to know that I'm not the only one.

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Tuesday, March 06, 2007

I finally signed up for Upromise

I hesitated for a long time before finally signing up for Upromise. My biggest concerns were giving up my personal information yet again, and not accruing enough money to make it worthwhile - after all, we haven't funded a 529 account yet. But a few months ago, I learned from Five Cent Nickel that you can withdraw the funds in your Upromise account. That was the clincher - I could start the account, and if the money wasn't enough to make investing worthwhile (taking fees into consideration), at least we could withdraw the money and do something else with it. Additionally, thanks to Consumerism Commentary, I've learned that I might be able to apply the funds to my own student loans. All in all, it added up to free money that I could no longer pass up.

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