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  • Tip for Skipping to DVD Menu

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    This might be common knowledge, but my tech-savvy husband and I recently discovered that with many DVDs, you can skip all that preliminary stuff and get to the menu screen faster by pressing the skip button every time a warning or ad starts to play. It doesn’t work with all of them, but it sure helps cut down on Alex’s repeated requests to “watch Diego, Daddy.”

    Tip for Learning the Lyrics to Kids’ Songs

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    I don’t know about your kids, but Alex loves the songs from the shows he sees on TV. Thus far, I’ve learned the full lyrics to a half dozen Wiggles songs, the chorus to another dozen or so Wiggles songs, a few verses to various Sesame Street songs, and the opening theme to Bob the Builder. All too often, Alex will ask me to sing a song I don’t know the lyrics to, but I’ve figured out an easy way to learn them. I had activated the closed captioning on the TV so I could watch while he was sleeping, and had left it on when we turned on the Bob the Builder movie, Built to Be Wild. The songs in it are actually pretty good, and the closed captioning functioning showed the lyrics just as if we were at a karaoke bar. Now I can learn the words that I couldn’t make out to sing to Alex (and hear the whole song in my head instead of just the chorus when I go to bed!).

    What to do With Those Digital Photo Proofs: Make Personalized Cards

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    Whenever I have digital photos printed, I get a proof sheet with tiny versions of the photos. I’ve never been able to bring myself to throw the proofs away, but I didn’t know what to do with them either. Finally, I found the perfect use for them: cut the pictures out and make personalized cards with them. This is especially great for grandparents.

    The photo to the right is of the Father’s Day card I made for my husband. Here’s how I made it:

    Items needed (all of these can be found with scrap booking supplies or at an office supply store):

    one 8 1/2 x 11 inch sheet of white card stock, cut in half the short way
    one sheet of colored paper
    double stick tape or photo mounting squares
    foam mounting squares
    proof sheets with the photos you want to use cut out
    acid-free stickers and/or pens, optional

    Steps:

    1. Fold the card stock in half to make a 4 1/4 x 5 1/2 inch card.

    2. Cut or tear the colored paper to make a rectangle that will fit on the front of the card. Attach the colored paper to the card using the double stick tape or photo mounting squares.

    3. Attach the foam squares to the back of the cut out proofs and affix to the front of the card. (You can cut the foam to fit the photos.) If desired, create a personalized message with stickers or pens.

    Note: You can find envelopes to fit your card at stationery or office supply stores – look for No. 5 1/2 invitation envelopes.

    Parent Hacks: TV, Picnics and Sunscreen

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    Find my previous parent hacks here, here and here.

    • If you’re afraid to watch television because the sound might wake up your child, turn down or mute the sound and use the closed captioning feature. If I’m in the same room as my child, I will also dim the picture using the brightness function.
    • I always use disposable changing pads for diaper changes, but I’ve found that the non-disposable kind that come with your diaper bag make a good surface to sit on at picnics or park outings where the ground might be a little damp.
    • Although I like the convenience of individually packaged sunscreen towelettes, I’m not crazy about the price. I realized that I could just pour some of our regular sunscreen into some snack-size zip top bags, seal them, put those bags into a sandwich bag, and keep that in my diaper bag. Then if I forget to put sunscreen on before we leave the house, I can poke a hole in one of the snack-size bags, squeeze out the sunscreen inside, and apply it without a big mess.

    Personal Parent Hacks Part 3

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    My previous parent hacks are here and here.

    • If your children’s artwork is starting to take over your house because you can’t bear to toss them, consider scanning them. You’ll then have a digital version of the art without needing to set aside an entire room to house the masterpieces. We keep our favorites and give the rest to the grandparents and great-grandparents.
    • The next step up from the last hack is to create an image that combines several “lesser” pieces to make them more interesting. 🙂
    • If (like me) you don’t like using permanent marker on your child’s cups and containers (I have to label everything that Alex takes to daycare), use a small piece of painter’s masking tape as a label. It will peel off easily and is very inexpensive. A $1 roll lasted for over a year and a half. (The masking tape is also great for labeling containers you put in the fridge or freezer.)

    More Parent Hacks

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    Adding to my personal list of parent hacks:

    • I got this one from an issue of Parents Magazine a few months ago: Instead of those flimsy vinyl mats they sell at Babies R Us, use a heavy duty office chair mat as highchair mat. It can be pricy, but buy the biggest one you can find (mine was about $60 at Staples). It’s much easier to clean and doesn’t keep flipping up.
    • The dishwasher is easiest for cleaning and sterilizing pumping equipment. But sometimes it can’t quite get into the deep recesses of breast pump parts, like inside the valve – but a bottle nipple brush can!
    • If you are trying to get some computer time while holding your baby and he still cries, try substituting your chair for a fitness ball. It’s not all that easy to bounce and type one-handed, but it’s possible and at least baby won’t be screaming in your ear.