LenaLoo:Looking at ADD Life Through a Creative Lens
National Make a Difference to Children Month *
July is celebrated as National Make a Difference to Children Month, starting in the home and extending out to the community. Differences to Children is focused on everyday things you can do to raise your child in a safe and nurturing environment.

Babyproductexperts.com recommends doing these three simple things to "make the world a better place for all children."

1. Do one special thing with a child (or children) this month to positively influence their lives.

2. Support an organization that focuses on child well being.
** Goore's is having a Grand Opening Gala on July 23rd which benefits three amazing local organizations that help mothers and children: WEAVE, Stanford Home for Children, and Sacramento Crisis Nurseries. To find out more about this event and to purchase tickets click here.

3. Contact your political leaders to focus on children when deciding on budgets and policies.

We hope to make a Difference to Children every month, how will you participate?

* Originally posted on Goore's Insider. I was compensated to write this post for Goore's Insider as a part of goores.com staff, however, compensation will never influence my opinion.

This fourth and final installment of my Summer Travel Series for Goore's Insider highlights items great for travelling with Bigger Kids (Ages 5-8). Hope you enjoyed it! Let me know if you'd like to see more series type posts in the future and what kinds of items you would like to read about! I love feedback in my comments!

Summer Travel Series: Traveling with Bigger Kids (5-8 years) *

Thank you for checking in with our last installment of our Summer Travel Series! We have had a great time reviewing all the best gear for traveling with all different age groups. Be aware that most of the products listed in these posts can be used just as well in the car as on the plane.

Your child may be too big to ride on Trunki now, but with a comfortable shoulder carry strap attached, your bigger kid can sling Trunki through the airport or continue to roll it along behind them, giving their Hugga Pet Pillow a ride.

For your older child, pack Trunki with a Reading Light and Books. Melissa and Doug makes a nice selection of stencil sets with non rolling crayons that are perfect for the plane or the car. Packing is half the fun, so let your older child choose which toys to bring along. Don't forget to pack plenty of snacks for your kiddo in Itzy Ritzy Reusable Snack Bags as well.

If your older child is still under 44 lbs, consider still taking along a Kids Fly Safe Cares Restraint to supplement the seatbelt on the plane.

When traveling with both older kids and babies, I recommend Hold on Handles that attach to your stroller. Kids can pull Trunki with one hand and hold onto the handle in a busy airport without worry. I can actually manage my 18 month old son, three year old niece, and five year old nephew at Disneyland by myself for a couple of hours with this set up! They like that they have their very own handle and that their hands don't get sweaty holding mine all day. When it is time to get in line for a ride, I detach the hold on handles from the stroller and attach them to my backpack. They work like a charm! Thanks so much for reading along with our Summer Travel Series and thanks for shopping at Goore’s for Babies to Teens.

* Originally written for and published at Goore's Insider. I was compensated to write this post for Goore's Insider as part of goores.com staff, however, compensation will never influance my opinion. 
Third installment of Summer Travel Series: Traveling with Younger Children (Ages 3-5) written for Goore's Insider featuring Melissa and Doug Trunki! Check it out!

Summer Travel Series: Traveling With Younger Children (3-5 years) *

Welcome to the third installment of our Summer Travel Series! Now that your children are big enough to sit in their own airplane seat and can entertain themselves for a slightly longer period of time, bring along some of their favorite items in the Melissa and Doug Ride-On Trunki Suitcase! At age 3, kids can sit on Trunki’s back and be pulled along in the airport if you would rather check your stroller than deal with gate checking it.
Trunki is big enough to hold you child's favorite blanket, sweatshirt, and big enough to hold plenty of toys to keep them busy. Some nice toys to try are Melissa and Doug's Pretend Play and Dress Up Dolls (Policeman for Boys, Princesses for girls). Another good idea is to bring along a "pet" stuffed animal for your child to take care of while flying. The responsibility of caring for a special little buddy is enough to take your child's mind off of, possible, first time flying anxiety. Have your little one talk to their pet and explain to their pet the process of security check points, the importance of seat belts on the plane, and good flying etiquette such as, "We have to use our inside voices, and we must not kick seats." This will help them process the information in an indirect way.
Your child may be big enough for their own seat on the plane, but the restraint system was not designed with little bodies in mind, so check out the Kids Fly Safe Cares Restraint Harness. It works in conjunction with the planes safety belts and is comfortably designed just for your little flyer. Avoid carrying your bulky car seat on the plane with you, check it as luggage and use the Cares Harness instead.

Chances are your child will need more than the small snack most airlines are serving these days, so pack a lunch in the Double Decker Meal Box. Extra snacks can be packed in the Itzy Ritzy Snack Happens Reusable Bags, and don't forget to bring along an empty lidded cup or water bottle if your child is not used to drinking from an open bottle or cup to fill with whatever juice or water is served on the plane.

Check back in with us for the last part in our Summer Travel Series: Traveling with Older Children (5-8 years) to see how Trunki grows with your child and more!

*Originally written for and published at Goore's Insider. I was compensated to write this post for Goore's Insider as part of goores.com staff, however, compensation will never influance my opinion.
Second installment of our Summer Travel Series is up @ Goore's Insider, this one focuses on Babies. I wrote this with 12 months (including many flights and 8 hour car trips to LA) of travel experience with Mr. Coco under my belt. Two more installments to follow shortly!
Summer Travel Series: Traveling with Baby *
Thanks for checking back in with our Summer Travel Series! We will be talking about the latest and greatest gear and accessories for traveling with different age groups. One essential for traveling with your little one is a stroller. It does not count as a carry on item because you can check it at the gate. Get to the airport even a little bit earlier than you would with out baby so you have plenty of time to get through security. You will have to take baby out and lift the stroller onto the security check point belt. The best strollers for travel are the ones that convert, but are also light weight and compact. The Cybex Onyx Stroller and Infant Seat as well as the Orbit Baby (see our review for more info on this amazing set up) are both excellent for this. A baby carrier, such as Ergo, Baby Bjorn, or Cybex is also a good idea for holding a fussy baby hands free while walking and sight seeing.

One thing we found to bother baby while traveling is pressure changes. Their little ears are very sensitive and if baby seems uncommonly fussy when you feel pressure changes, this is the likely cause. Help them by allowing them to nurse (only if on a plane with baby in your lap, never drive without baby secured in their car seat), drink from a bottle, or suck on a pacifier. Pack baby’s bottles, milk, snacks, and jarred food in a Pack n Protect, keep it toward the top for easy check in at security (they will allow you to take them on the plane but they have to screen each bottle first). For easy spoon feeding on the plane, try the Munchkin Easy Squeezy Spoon.

Dressing baby in layers is a good idea for travel. Also bring along a couple of swaddle blankets for multipurpose use (keeping baby wrapped warmly and comfortably, as a burp cloth, and for emergency diapering purposes). Make sure to bring along babies favorite lovie (if they don’t already have a comfort item, now might be the time to choose one, but buy a few of the same if you can and rotate through them: Little Giraffe, Miyim, Angel Dear, and Taggies are all great options). Usually you can fit a few baby toys in your diaper bag, but as baby gets bigger and needs more entertainment, bring along a spare “toy bag” or backpack just for baby. Skip Hop has cute designs that are the perfect size. I like to link all of baby’s toys together (especially during the fun “I can throw things? Cool!” stage) using teething links. Some good items to link up are a set of keys, stroller toys, and a teether.

Speaking of diaper bags, you are likely going to need to put yours in the overhead compartment. For convenience, stash a quick change kit containing a few diapers, wipes, and a built in changing pad under the seat along with baby’s feeding items (or your nursing cover, which makes a good blanket as well). Also keep a pack of Grime Fighting Wipes on hand in your quick change kit for wiping down the table tray and anything else baby might touch (so, everything around you pretty much). After flying many times with my now 18 month old, these three items are all I carry with us on the plane (I stash my tiny purse in his backpack as soon as we take out a few toys). I like to hook them all together and just pick up what I need rather than rummage through a large diaper bag.

With these handy items, traveling with baby can be a breeze rather than a hassle. Check back in for the next installment in our Summer Travel Series: Traveling with Younger Children (3-5 year olds) featuring the Melissa and Doug Trunki Ride on Suitcase!

*Originally written for and published at Goore's Insider. I was compensated to write this post for Goore's Insider as part of the goores.com staff, however, compensation will never influance my opinion.

Check out my Summer Travel Series at the Goore's Insider Blog! Mr. Cohen boy (my 19 month old son) is modeling a Skip Hop Zoo backpack and loving it so much I went and bought him one!

Summer Travel Series: Traveling with Toddlers *
Summer is upon us! That means vacations, airplane flights, and long car rides. Goore's has the best gear for keeping your kiddos busy, safe, and happy while you travel with them. This week we are featuring the Skip Hop Zoo Backpack! This backpack has long enough straps for mom or dad to sling over a shoulder and they can be adjusted small enough for your toddler to carry "By my own self." Giving toddlers something they're "responsible" for gives gives them a sense of purpose that can distract them from the vastness of airport travel. Paired with the Munchkin Stay Close Harness and Handstrap your little runner will stay close by in the busy airport when they do not want to be confined to the stroller after a long flight on your lap.

Don’t pull out all of your toy stash at once; keep a trick up your sleeve to rotate in for a melt down moment. Boon makes a nifty device called a GNAW that grabs onto teething toys and biscuits (think of a Chinese finger trap) that cannot be easily linked or tethered.The Gnaw clips onto baby’s clothes. Remember to keep some snacks, a sippy cup, a Sippy Pal or juice box on hand, a comfort item of choice, and a light sweater or blanket. Also, clip a quick change kit and a lunch bag on if your flight is a long one. The Double Decker Meal Box is a fun addition to your toddler's in flight lunch bag.

Again, don’t forget some BabyGanics Grime Fighting Wipes and maybe even stash a couple of Neat Solutions Table Topper Disposable Placemats in your kit to cover that table tray for easy clean up after your messy little eater (they also make disposable bibs).The Melissa and Doug Color a Mat and Special Wipe Clean Crayons will keep your toddler busy, as will our Soft Cloth Books. Have a potty trained toddler? Use this weeks Goore'pon for the Mommy's Helper Cushie Traveler Folding Padded Potty Seat as well!

Check back in for the next installment in our Summer Travel Series: Traveling with Babies, for advice on the best airport friendly strollers and what to do about inflight pressure changes!

*Originally written for and published at Goore's Insider. I was compensated to write this post for Goore's Insider as part of goores.com staff, however, compensation will never influance my opinion. I reviewed many of these items in store, but after reviewing, ended up purchasing the majority of them for my own toddler.
Hi friends. I am going to be posting about many wonderful products on the Goore's blog! My first post on cloth diapering was published yesterday here! I will likely be posting about 3 times a week and I will re-post here for you to read! Thanks for the support!

Cloth Diapering 101: Part I - Choosing a System That Works for You *
Is it just me or is there an overwhelming amount of information out here about cloth diapers? When I was trying to choose, it took 12 months of agonizing over "which would be best" questions... I didn't start until I had a box of hand-me-downs given to us to try out. I figured out the pros and cons the hard way, by trial and error. Hope you can learn a bit from my mistakes.  My motto is to K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple Sweetie), so I will only give you one brand example for each type of diaper. There are four basic types, and multiple variations on each: Flats, Prefolds, All-in-ones, and Hybrids. I will try to give you most of the pros and cons of each, but honestly the best way to see what works for you and your baby is to try each out for yourself with trial packs or by borrowing from a pal who uses cloth.
Kushies Washable Flat Diapers Flat diapers are large thin rectangles of absorbent fabric that are folded in a variety of ways to fit your baby. They must be secured with a Snappi or diaper pins and covered with a waterproof cover. These are the diapers that people have been using for centuries to cover babies bums so they are tries and true.

  • easy to wash and dry (even without a washer and dryer, I just met someone who hand washes all of her diapers!)
  • fits well on small or premature babies
  • extremely adjustable
  • good for excessive amounts of newborn changes 
  • long lasting
  • least expensive option
  • not as convenient to use and therefore less dad and daycare friendly
  • time consuming on changing table (you try to get a wiggly toddler to hold still and not pee while you fold laundry)
  • depending on fold, can be bulky under clothing and cause sizing issues with onesies and pants (have to go up a size)
  • pins can hurt! (try a Snappi if the thought of pins make your fingers ache)
Bambino Mio Nappies Prefold diapers are smaller rectangular layered sheets of absorbent fabric sewn into three panels with the center panel being the thickest. Can be folded in a variety of ways, but many people simply fold in three along the lines and lay into the waterproof fitted cover

  • ultra portable
  • covers can be used for multiple changes as long as it is not soaked or soiled
  • simple, only two pieces required and can be mixed and matched 
  • washes easily
  • less folding required for absorbency
  • good for newborns, preemies, and smaller babies
  • long lasting
  • still a bit time consuming on the changing table
  • can have leak issues if prefold is not properly placed or gets bunched up
  • can be bulky and cause size issues with clothes
  • can have "old fashioned" bias by some dads and daycare
bumGenius Cloth Diapers 4.0 All-In-Ones {link} are water proof covers with a "stay dry" liner sewn into it. The absorbent material is either sewn inside (a true All-in-One) or made into an insert that can go into a pocket opening (called Pocket Diapers) between the cover and the liner or snapped on top of the liner (Called and All-in-Two). These are a modern take on cloth diapering that mimic the ease of changing a disposable diaper. These diapers can be one size (with snaps to adjust the fit for smaller babies) or sized to fit.

  • grab and go
  • quick changing 
  • many options and styles to suit your specific needs
  • very easy to use, dad and daycare friendly (check with your daycare first)
  • have to be pre-prepped on laundry day
  • can be harder to clean (some fibers hold onto "stink" more than others)
  • can take a longer time to dry (especially true All-In-Ones)
  • can be bulky and cause size issues with clothing
  • tend to wear out more quickly than covers and flats/prefolds (elastic, waterproof lining), so buy from a company with a good warranty
  • take up a lot of space in the diaper bag
  • so many options, it is hard to know which one to choose!
gDiapers Little gPants Hybrid Diapers are some of the newest on the market. They consist of a reusable waterproof cover with both reusable snap in liners and disposable biodegradable tape in liners that can be used interchangeably throughout the day. 

  •  still cuts down immensely on disposable diaper waste
  • has two options for liners
  • extremely portable and easy to use on the go
  • washes and dries easily
  • very day care and daddy friendly
  • a good balance between ease of use and "greenness" 
  • some disposable liners still contain chlorine and other "harsh for baby" chemicals, so read labels carefully
  • can have leak issues if not properly prepped, follow all prepping instructions carefully
  • not quite as quick as All-in-Ones on the changing table, but pretty close
Feel free to choose a couple of systems that work for you, I know we do! We use mostly prefolds and covers at home (money savers!) and hybrids on the go with a few all-in-one pocket types mixed in. If you are in it for the money saving aspect, be careful not to get "hooked" on the cute factor (like I am). There are just so many adorable colors and patterns to choose from! 

How many do I need?
Generally, the number of diapers you need decreases with the age of your baby. Decide if you intend to wash diapers daily or not and plan accordingly. Up to age six months you will be changing at least 10 to 12 diapers. From six to twelve months the changes decrease to 8 to 12 diapers. From twelve to twenty-four months you will change baby about 6 to 8 times a day. When they are potty learning (cloth diapered kiddos tend to train sooner) little ones are down to 2 to 4 changes a day in diapers (usually at nap time and overnight). It is a good idea to have three or four extras just in case. 

Other Items You'll Need: Cloth diapering can be an initially expensive endeavor, but you will save a lot of money in the long run and you will prolong the life of your diapers if you treat them well.

*Originally written for and published at Goore's Insider. I was compensated to write this post for Goore's Insider, however, compensation will never influance my opinion. I reviewed these items at our store in the show room and asked our trained baby basics experts any questions I had on the items. I also have used like items on my own child at home and have many friends who have cloth diapered their children using different systems.
Disposable diapers can cost a small fortune. Babies can use 8-10 diapers a day, it takes about 63 diapers (2 packages of 24-36 diaper ct per regular package at $.33 per diaper) per baby for a week, 252 per month, and 3286 per year! At an average of between $10 and $12 a package, that is about $22 a week, $88 a month, or $1085 a year! Multiply that by however many years it is till child is potty learned (2-3 years usually) and you pay over $3000 for diapers (more if you use Pull ups for some of the time)!

Now there are better ways of buying diapers than the smallest packs, however, when you are on a fixed or minimum income and living paycheck to paycheck or worse like many families in the US have to, you don't have the capital to spend $50 in one go on a box of diapers. But if you do have the extra money on hand, it is much less expensive to buy diapers in bulk. 

Believe it or not, at Costco, a box of Huggies ($49.99 for 228ct) and a box of Costco Brand ($47.99 for 212 ct) cost about the same when you divide number of diapers by cost of box. For size 3, you pay about $.22 per diaper. 

Smaller value boxes cost about $.30 per diaper (even bio-friendly Earth's Best brand at Babies R Us $22.99 for 76 ct), and Huggies Snug and Dry Mega Pack at Babies R Us $17.99 for 60ct). Store brand starts to pay off at this size, a Super Mega box of Babies R Us Supreme diapers ($24.99 for 116) comes in at $.22 per diaper.

Best value seems to be Babies R Us store brand Ultra Value Box of 144 diapers ($24.99) comes in at $.17 per diaper. But as I have not tried these diapers, I cannot speak to their quality or how they would hold up overnight. I just tried out CVS Supreme store brand of diapers (on sale $9.99 for pkg of 27, not the best value at $.27 per) and they held up during the day and at night with at least one change in the middle of the night. But last night my son slept through the night (can I get a hallelujah?) and when I changed his diaper, a flood of pee came out of either side from compression. His PJ's were soaked. I am a little more than worried about the flight home today with him sitting in my lap drinking juice or water the whole hour and a half! 

All of these costs (except CVS) are for non-sale, non-coupon costs. Coupons are money in your pocket. They do not take much time to cut out and bring with you. Get a coupon envelope and stick it in the bag you are most likely to take into the store with you. Be organized and only cut coupons for the brands you use. Make sure you understand the deal and if it is worth it or not (often times at Costco, you also have to buy the box of that brands wipes as well and they are not cheap). Combining an ad sale price with a coupon is pure gold and you will drop your per diaper price a lot. 

The absolute cheapest way to diaper your child is with cloth diapers (unless of course, you get hooked on the cute factor and start hoarding couture boutique cloth diapers like goodmama's at $30-40 per diaper). Using flat fold or pre-fold diapers and covers is the least expensive way to do it. You can even make these out of old clothing you have or thrift store finds! Cotton Babies has a great article about this. If the problem you have is the cost of washing diapers (like I did when I lived in an apartment and had to pay $3-$4 per load to wash and dry in the coin op facility in our building), Cloth Diapering Bloggers has an article on using flats (you know all those cute but seemingly useless receiving blankets your well meaning but cheap friends gave you at your baby shower? yup, those can actually be used as flats, as well as burp cloths, changing pads, wipes, and a plethora of other things) and hand washing. 

If you don't get caught up in the "green trend" of having to use only organic or natural fabrics, you can get started with very little to no cost out of pocket actually. If you have a pile of old t-shirts/flannel sheets/receiving blankets for the diapers; a couple wool/fleece sweaters or blankets to make covers from; safety pins/snappis/velcro (or snaps and snap pliers/press) for fastening; a pair of scissors; a needle and thread (or sewing machine); a trash can with a lid and trash bags or an old shower liner; a washing machine or bath tub/sink/bucket; and detergent or a bar of laundry soap you can cloth diaper your child. If you are using wool, lanolin is necessary to help clean, care for, and waterproof it. You can make fitted/contours, flats or prefolds, and velcro/snap or pull on covers. Let me point you to the forum where I have found a wealth of info for making cloth diapers: Diaper Sewing Divas. There are a million different patterns and fabrics they recommend. Don't get overwhelmed, just jump in using what you've got and sew up something! 

Hope this article helps someone get by during rough times! Best wishes and good luck! If you have questions or want some advice please feel free to drop me a line here or on facebook!
Note: This clip was recorded on my phone, I can't figure out how the heck to rotate it. If you know how PLEASE let me know in comments!
My little one just turned 16 months old and has discovered his autonomous spirit. He loves saying "No!" (even if he really means yes). And he likes having choices. While I don't always bend to his whims, I do reward him with his choices rather often. Everyday, at every meal, he requests "Nanoos." If he eats his breakfast like a champ, I tell him, "Wow! You ate great at breakfast! Would you like Nanoos for lunch?" He responds excitedly, "Yeah! Nanoos!" Now, ramen noodles are not the most nutritious building block for a toddlers diet. So I sneak in all kinds of good stuff for him to try with his beloved Nanoos.

Sneaky Ramen
-1/4 Package of Ramen Noodles per child (remove seasoning packet)
-Garlic powder (not garlic salt)
-Onion powder or dried diced onion flakes
-At least one of each of the following -
    -Choice of: Firm Tofu, Shredded Chicken, Ground Beef or Turkey, Pulled Pork
    -Choice of Green Frozen or Leftover (steamed/cooked) Veggies: Peas, Broccoli, Lima Beans, Asparagus (pieces), Green Beans, Brussels Sprouts (cut in quarters), anything you have really
    -Choice of Yellow Frozen or Leftover (steamed/cooked) Veggies: Corn, Carrots, sweet potato chunks, butternut squash chunks, my hubby's cousin BadLuckBetty of La Vita Dolce suggested using Spaghetti Squash (they won't be able to tell the difference between the stringy squash and the noodles)
    -Optional antioxidant bonus (or sneaky way to get your veggie adverse kiddo some more nutrients): Veggie puree ice cubes (Did you make waaaaay to much baby food like I did? Use em up!) or fresh pureed veggies and/or beans (for the meat adverse toddler) The Sneaky Chef has some of the best purees in my opinion. I made all of Cohen's baby food using her recipes and I have all three of her cook books. Jessica Seinfeld also wrote a book too (that I also own) called Deceptively Delicious that has some good puree recipes.

If you are only cooking for one kiddo (and don't fancy eating ramen as often as they do), invest in a 6" sauce pan like this one from IKEA. Fill the pot about halfway with water and bring it to a boil. Break the 1/4 of noodles into smaller pieces (so you don't have to bother with cutting them up after they are cooked and mixed with everything else) and drop into the boiling water. DO NOT add in the seasoning packet!!! There is waaaaay too much sodium in it for only a 1/4 of the noodles (and for your young child). Instead, use a sprinkling of the garlic powder and the onion powder or flakes to taste. When the noodles are cooked, remove pan from heat and add in choices of protein and veggies. If your kiddo is a ridiculously messy eater like mine, remove majority of cooking liquid before adding in puree. Stir in optional puree to use as a sauce and to add flavor. Be creative with your combos! Change it up! Challenge your kiddo(s) to try something new!

Now if I could just get him to keep his food in the bowl...
We started Friends Playgroup this month! It is a combined effort of Midtown Friends and Sacramento Friends. We meet every other Wednesday morning at Sacramento Friends in the nursery, or at a park when the weather is nice. It is open to young children and their Moms, Dads, Grandparents, or other Caregivers. On the opposite weeks, Midtown Friends hosts evening activities for Moms (Girl's night out is 2nd Wed night of the month, and is open to non-moms too; and Mom's group is 4th Wed night of the month). We let the kiddos run around while we talk about parenting and our kids among other topics and share a snack together. We also encourage bringing your lunches since Playgroup ends right about that time. It's nice to have an excuse to bust out my Bento sets and make Cohen and I cute lunches! Last meeting, one of the other kiddos decided that she had to have one, so on our trip to San Fran that weekend, we picked one up for her (and one for the only other "eater" that came). We are starting small, with about 5 or 6 families on the e-mail list, but we are hoping to outgrow the nursery by Summertime when we can meet at the park! It is a blessing to have friends who have kids too and have a place that we can hang out together without worrying about what the kids can and can't touch or that someone will be stuck cleaning up their mess afterward (we all clean up together before we leave).
While in LA with my niece and nephew I decided to start a positive reinforcement program with them. They are way into pretend play right now and Bailey totally loves being a princess. I told them that there are many thing princes and princesses do and do not do. We made a list together and assigned point values to each item. I made them a website where we can track their points and told them that if they earn 500 points (after realizing that they rack up about 50 points a day on a normal day) we will reward them with special prince and princess days where they get special attention. Check it out and feel free to use the idea!!!