Monday, December 14, 2015

If we could just take a sock break for a few days

If my family could just take a few days off from socks, maybe 3-4 sock free days, that'd be great.

We could really get ahead of the curve on our clean sock reserves, and it would also save a ton of time in the morning.

Instead of digging through last night's freshly deposited pile of clean laundry for a matching pair of socks, we could just pull a already paired set from a drawer and throw them on.

We could call it our sock sequester.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Things to spend top money on if you're having a baby

It is daunting as a new parent and you need to buy so many things you have no idea about. Which features do you want out of a stroller, or car seat, and conversely, which things are you willing to sacrifice to save money? After surviving the first year and a half with my first child, there are a few things that I think are worth the money.

  1.    A Premium Car Seat

My wife and I were lucky enough to have friends lend us a really nice infant car seat set (Chicco), but we did end up buying our convertible car seats (one for each of our cars).  My wife's car is our primary weekend and traveling vehicle, so we put a very nice Chicco Nextfit car seat in her car, and a less nice (i.e., cheap) car seat in my car.

It was clear from the installation that the cheaper car seat was just not on par with the Chicco was far, far superior.  

The cheaper car seat was, I believe, a "Safety First" brand we got from Costco that was on sale.  Hey, we love Costco and they generally carry very nice items, but this was a $70 car seat and it felt like it.

2.    A Great Camera

Yes, you will use your iPhone, or Galaxy, or whatever smartphone to grab most of the pictures you get of your kids.  It's hard to beat the convenience of grabbing a quick picture of your toddler and within seconds have it uploaded to Facebook - or to shoot a text with video to close friends or family. 

And you wouldn't be all that wrong to argue that smartphone cameras are getting pretty good these days, so go ahead and invest in a top quality smartphone.  Probably 90% of the pictures I take of my family are on my smartphone.  
But let me explain why you want a top-notch stand-alone camera as well 

First, and most obviously, smartphones aren't going to be able to match a high quality camera's sensors any time soon.  From the features, to the sensor, to accessories, a quality camera is going to destroy a smartphone, ceteris paribus. 

Secondly, think of the times when you will be viewing the photos in other formats.  When you take a picture on a smartphone, then text it or post it on Facebook, chances are the folks viewing it are looking at it on their own smartphones, so the quality will surely be fine.
But when you go to print out pictures, or throw them up on a big screen for everyone to see, some of the flaws of the smartphone cameras really start to stand out.  

This past summer, my wife and I took our Canon G1X Mark II to our niece's 2nd birthday party.  Everyone was taking pictures with iPhones and other smartphones.  Lots of great pictures.  But when looking back at the day and sharing pictures between friends and family, the pictures we took were clearly of a different magnitude of quality.  

Televisions, smartphones and other devices are starting to use higher and higher definition screens, so over time, those old pictures you took with your iPhone 6 are going to show their age.  Try to future-proof yourself with a great camera.

With a quality camera, simple trips to the park and birthdays turn into near-professional grade photo shoots.  Just carry along your camera and take 5-10 minutes to grab some good photos.  If you're kids are having a birthday, just pass the camera around and let folks take a few shots with it. A good camera is not cheap, but neither are professional photographers.

I recommend the Canon G1X Mark II, as it is very easy to use.  The Canon G1X is not as complex as a DSLR, nor is it as bulky.  You will be fine shooting in automatic mode for everyday use with this camera and the shots you take will be fantastic.  That's basically all I do, just point and shoot.  It has wifi, so you can add an app to your smartphone and transfer the files quickly.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Which USB-C cable should I buy?

There is a new USB cable that is starting to be shipped with the most recent gadgets.

The new Nexus 5X and 6P devices both use USB Type-C, a vastly improved power connector that will soon be used more universally for our connected gadgets. But because it is relatively new, one should be aware of some potential problems in getting faulty or improperly engineered cables.

A cable that is not up to the proper standards could cause serious damage to your nice new device, so you want to be very careful when purchasing supplemental cables.

Benson Leung, a Google engineer who is well versed in the technology, has reviewed the following cable as meeting the standards and specifications needed to delivers safe and adequate connections for all of your devices.

All of the below cables will meet your needs.

Cable Matters 2.0
Cable Matters 3.1


Monday, November 23, 2015

Helping to train your baby or toddler to sleep through the night

Sleeping through the night is something all of us as new parents dream about - but it rarely happens.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Thanks to mom, and all the moms out there who breastfeed or have breastfed....

The purpose of this message is to express gratitude and thanks to my wife - generally for being a great mother, but more specifically for her tireless work and effort in breastfeeding our son.

 I've been thinking a long time about doing this in some form or another, but this is my first real attempt to do so....

My wife was adamant before giving birth that she would breast feed our child.  Of course, I was completely on board, as the health benefits are well known and published widely (read here) and it would save us a ton on formula.  

 I was happy for her to do it, but I always figured that we might still supplement with some formula, or that at some point she may want to switch completely over to formula as many moms do.

Yet, that was not to be the case - we really never used formula at all (well, except for the very, very early days when mom and son were getting the hang of the breastfeeding routine and he needed immediate nourishment).....

Amazingly, my wife breastfed and pumped around the clock, day and night, to provide our little one with all the nutrition he needed, and she wife continued to produce and pump (and freeze) milk until our son reached the one year mark. 

Going back to the early days, one of the things I was most impressed with was after my wife returned to work after maternity leave, as she still tirelessly fed my son from her own breast,  pumping multiple times a day while at work.

Despite working full time in a demanding job she would take the time to lug the equipment, the pump and pieces, and bottles to work every single day and bring home with her more milk than my son could even drink (we actually bought a deep freezer to store the excess milk).

Sometimes co-workers asked "are you still breastfeeding" - or "you have to go and pump again?" - some inquiries were likely from genuine curiosity, but others seemed to imply a bit of judgement, or possibly even frustration that she would drag such a thing into the work space (my wife works in a very male-dominated field).

She endured these things so that our son would receive the best nutrition, with the added fantastic benefit of also being essentially free.

My hope is that this comes off as genuine, as I truly can't imagine how much patience and endurance was needed to make it through all of those work days, all of those nights up multiple times, and all of the uncomfortable-ness from the giving of herself.

Husbands, PLEASE be patient and gracious to your breastfeeding wives.  When I reflect upon the effort that she took, I am continuously amazed.  She put herself through a lot at home and at work, doing something that was essentially taken for granted and expected of by the men in her life (I kid about my son being ungrateful, of course...haha, he doesn't know any better).

And this is not meant to be a put-down to those mothers who did not breastfeed, or chose to stop breastfeeding earlier on...I mean only to give thanks to my wife for what she did.  

So, a gigantic, humongous, sincere and loving THANK YOU from your husband for going through this.  I love you.

One possibly helpful bit of information for those soon to be or currently breastfeeding, my wife would give this hands free pumping bra her highest recommendation.  (small request - please buy it from the link or from one of the banners below [you may have to disable ad blocking tools] as I will receive a small commission)

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Teaching your baby to drink from a straw.

Somewhere between the age of six to eight months your baby should start using a sippy cup.

There are basically two steps to teaching your baby to drink from a straw:

1) Model the behavior for your child - drink from the straw as they watch.  

2) Then put the straw up to your child's lips (or a separate straw, so as to not share your germs).

I first introduced my son (at just under 7 months old) to a straw by showing him how to drink from it myself, using a regular straw. 

Be careful at first, as you need to limit the amount of times your baby sips from the straw.   They will drink too much and too quickly from an adult straw and can aspirate the water (it will get into his or her lungs).

In the video below, you can see that I pull the straw away after a couple seconds.

Learning to use a straw early on will help your baby to develop finer motor skills with his or her mouth.   

This cup, with a weighted straw, works great for the real little ones (less than one year), because no matter which way they tilt it, the straw stays under the liquid.

But I would also introduce other types of sippy cups that use spouts, as you child should learn to master both.

Another good cup to try is the Miracle 360 cup, although my son tended to prefer the straw cups early on.

Now he seems to like both spout/nozzle cups and straw cups.  

No matter which cup you get, they all have drawbacks - none are "perfect"....