How to Get Ride of Fruit Flies

Several weeks ago we were hit by a cloud of fruit flies.  I must have left the door open and didn’t know there was a spoiled fruit somewhere.  These unwanted visitors came and wanted to stay, and I hated watching them buzzing around MY SPACE.  After couple of days of procrastination, I decided to try a little trap. 

My first generation of fruit fly trap involves drilling a small hole on the cap of a plastic drink bottle.  Then I left it out in the kitchen with several pieces of very ripped fruit.  The trick worked and attracked fruit flies in.  However, the flies were able to escape by crawl out of the hole.  Back to the drawing board.

My second generation of fruit fly trap is simply a plastic drink bottle without the cap and ripped fruits on the bottom.  I set it up at night and left it out till the morning when I capped it and found at least three dozen of fruit flies inside.  I then set up another bottle the second night and caught about two dozen, then another bottle and another bottle.  By the fifth trap there were barely any fruit flies left.

My fruit fly trap full of fruit flies.

Nothing can be easier.  Leave the bottle out with fruits, then cap it and toss it away.  Done, no more fruit flies.  Now I can afford to leave the door open.


Huggies vs. Pampers

Last night Ravi unexpectedly drank 15 to 20 oz of liquid.  Normally it takes only couple of hours for the liquid to pass through his system.  So after changing him couple of times out of full gigantic diapers, I thought we were out of the woods.  But I can always count on Ravi to be full of surprises.  When I changed him this morning, his Huggies Overnight diaper was again full and some urine leaked onto his undershirt.  This is definitely a sign that I should re-evaluate my diaper selections.

Ever since Ravi was born, we have been using three kinds of diapers through various sizes.  This is because I personally prefer Pampers Baby Dry, the daycare lady prefers Huggies Snug & Dry, and a third the Huggies Overnight for extra protection.  So for as long as I can remember, I have been buying three different kinds of diapers.  I use Pampers at home, bring Huggies to daycare, and use Huggies Overnight for night time.  Out of all of them, my favorite is Pampers.  Compare to the other Huggies diapers, it is much slimmer and form fitting.  Because it is much smaller in volume, it doesn’t look bulky under cloth and hugs baby butt much better than Huggies.  It also has a nice stretchy guard line that prevent leaks.  Don’t be fooled by Pampers’ thin material, it is actually extremely absorbent and redistribute liquid incredibly well.  This is especially important for boys since they pee in front, the urine will actually gets distribute to the back before it ever gets out.  Even when the diaper gets really wet, its inner surface still keep relatively dry.  Additionally, Pampers diaper doesn’t clump up like Huggies, and has a nice and fabric like texture.  I have changed Ravi out of some truly amazingly gigantic wet diapers, I would otherwise never have believed how much liquid it could hold without leaking if I didn’t see it myself.

But what about the cost?  Honestly speaking, I have not carefully checked on the prices for a while and I had to look into it again today.  Normally Pampers is the more expensive choice, but not so for me right now.  I am a member of Amazon Mom and I subscribe my diapers through Amazon Subscription service.  This means I get 30% off the list price.  So as of today, I pay:

Pampers Baby Dry:  $0.137/diaper (size 3, 204 per box at $28 after 30% off)

Huggies Snug & Dry:  $0.143/diaper (size 3, 156 per box at $22.34 after 30% off)

Huggies Overnight:  $0.25/diaper (size 3, 62 per box at 15.49 after 30% off)

I did notice that price does change over time, but I am surprised that right now I got Pampers at a lower price than Huggies.  Of course the bigger box means the bigger savings, and that may be a contributing factor to the lower price.  By re-evaluating my selection today, I’ve decided to eliminate Huggies Overnight, which is nearly twice as expensive as Pampers Baby Dry and doesn’t hold liquid nearly as well as I have hoped.  Even though I don’t like it, but I would continue to order two types of diapers.  Between you and me, I think Pampers is the much better choice.


Ravi’s Hair Cut

In his 20 months life, Ravi had only two hair cuts by professional hair dressers and both specialized in kids’ hair cuts.  Both times he cried like a mad man, from the beginning to the end and some more afterward.  The first time he was at about 6 months of age.  I thought maybe he was still too young and we should try again when he’s a little older.  The second time he was about a year old, he cried all the home and wouldn’t stop no matter how much I comforted him.  I thought, this is the last time!  We would not try again till he’s able to answer yes to another professional hair cut.  But his hair got longer and longer and someone needs to cut it.  So I got out our old electric hair clipper kit that I used to practice on Mario when he was in college and became Ravi’s personal hair dresser.

So its been eight months since his last professional hair cut and I can finally say that Ravi is beginning to look somewhat decent after my “home cut.”  We didn’t start very well.  Initially he would still cry at the sight of the hair clipper and the sound of its buzz, but daddy held him and kissed him while I made sure I did a quick job.  We didn’t expect much, our objective was a quick and painless cut, rather than a good looking hair cut.  So the first few months he did go to daycare with wacky hair cuts.  All the other parents understood and we weren’t too embarrassed.  Bad looking hair cut beats hearing him cry again like he did during his last professional hair cut.  I think that cry will echo in my head forever.  As months passed, Ravi became less agitated during his hair cuts and my hair cutting skill has also improved quite a bit.  Slowly the wacky looking “home cuts” faded away and no one ever talked about his hair cut at day care anymore.  We gave him another hair cut about three weeks ago, and if I may say, it turned out quite good!  Nothing great compared to the professionals, but if you don’t look carefully, you might not think it is a “home cut.”  Here are some pictures of Ravi sporting his new cut a week after.

If I may say, Ravi does look very handsome with his new hair cut!  Some hair on top just doesn’t want to behave, that’s just the nature of Ravi’s hair.

Ravi’s hair cut is actually really simple to do.  We tried many different approaches and in the end we loved the refined “three lengths” approach.  This means we use three separate clipper length attachments for this hair cut: 1 inch at the top, 3 quarters of an inch on the side, and 1 quarter of an inch at the bottom.  Additionally, we cut the side burn and trim the side edges with children’s round edge scissors.  Initially it is hard to control the clipper so that the different lengths blend in with one another, but after couple of tries, it became much easier.  Besides, it is barely noticeable after a couple of weeks.  We may still adjust our approach in the future, but the 3 lengths combo works pretty well right now.

By doing “home cuts” we saved over $100 this year.  Not too impressive by itself, but the longer term saving is huge.  It also saved us tremendous amount of time.  Each hair cut takes about 5 minutes to prepare, 10 minutes for the cut, and 10 minutes to clean up.  No fuss, no cries, just some wiggling to overcome.  After we have been doing it all these months, we would never think of going back to professionals again, till maybe when he is 15 and make his own money.  That will be the day!


Ravi’s Gigantic Bed

I have to confess.  I let Ravi sleep on a queen size mattress!  And I sleep with him!  Are you shocked?  I can totally see the ladies at the La Leche cringe with disgust and plan to come and teach me a thing or two about raising babies…  I am okay with that.

I thought about writing today’s post after reading one of my favorite “mommy blog” about switching her son from crib to toddler bed.   Needless to say it was a painful process.  The purpose of writing this post is not to self indulge in my “good decision” but to offer an alternative bedding option to those that haven’t thought about this possibility before.

Ever since the first day home from the hospital, Ravi refused to sleep in his crib.  Yes, he had a crib.  A nice one with very comfortable bedding, tugged in at a quite corner of his room.  Every night when we finally rocked him to sleep and try to put him into his crib, he would cry and wake up the first second he touch the surface.  Imaging doing this three times straight at 4AM in the morning for weeks!  Mario and I were at our wit’s end!  So we started to skip on the crib and put him on our bed.  It turned out to be more convenient.  I could breast feed him middle of the night while laying down, then just roll off to the other side and fall back asleep.  When he got a little older, we were concerned that he would roll off the bed, so we got him his own queen size mattress and place it on the floor.  Two sides of it faced the walls, one side blocked by a bed rail, and the other side by two pillows.  We figured it would be okay since my sister raised her two girls on mattresses and her experience turned turned out great!

For many months we were able to leave him to sleep alone on his mattress every night.  He would sleep from 7:30PM through 6:30AM everyday!  Those were the happy times.  Then came the sleepless nights when he started to turn over, or crawl, or stand, or walk… Every night for months and months I would be woken by his cry several times a night, get up and go over to his room to check on him.  I don’t remember how I survived those months, I must have sleep walked at work a lot.  I eventually got tired and just slept on his bed.  This way I would at least save myself a trip and have higher chance of falling back to sleep afterward.  So it became a habit and I still sleep with Ravi.  These days, I worry about him being cold at night.   I wake up couple of times every night to put blanket back on him.

Sleeping with Ravi has been a great experience.  I would sing him a song and massage his legs and arms till he falls asleep.  Sometimes I would fall asleep while he still plays in his bed.  By spending those intimate moments together every night have definitely brought us even closer.  Currently I have no plans on moving back to my bed.  Mario is certainly okay with this, and every once in a while we would all play and fall asleep in Ravi’s bed together.  We really enjoy these happy moments together as a family.

I don’t think my mattress approach is better than other options out there, but I hope this can be helpful to those that have tried other methods and want to consider an alternative.  Look at it this way, Ravi will never have to convert to a different bed.  Someday when he’s 30 years old, he can decide to put his mattress up on a box spring or pedestal, and that’s as much change he will ever need.


Baby Monitor No More

When I take Ravi to visit my parents on the weekends, I always dissemble his baby monitor system and take them with me.  As I was cleaning up my weekend bag couple of days ago, I realized that they are still sitting in there.  That means we haven’t use them at home for nearly two weeks now!

Every since Mario fixed Ravi’s door (taped up the locking mechanism and put a big ribbon on the door knob), Ravi is free to come in and out all by himself.  He no longer cries when he wakes up alone, but walks out and look for where the action is.  He still has occasional nightmares, but since I now have a somewhat semi-permanent spot on his queen size bed, that’s easily fixed by either putting the pacifier back into his mouth or picking him up for a minute.  So we haven’t really needed the baby monitor any more.

Good new?  I hope it is.  But as we close one chapter, another one opens.  New challenges are just around the corner.

Returning Home

We are home again!  After an eight-hour connection flight to Albany, two long weeks of lazy days hanging out with my sister and her family, and a tiresome eight-hour connection flight back to LA… Bamm! Our vacation is over.  We are tired and already miss waking up to play with Ravi’s cousins every morning.

I would say the trip back home was harder than the trip to Albany, even though the total flight time was the same.  The distinct difference was our return trip took place late in the day, from 6PM to 3AM Albany time, compared to previously trip of 12PM to 8PM LA time.  It felt like such a long and endless day.  Next time we will definitely opt to fly earlier.

We actually started the trip on the wrong foot.  First, our check-in luggage bags were overweight, again!  So I had to bust out a separate carry-on bag to carry some extra stuff.  Secondly, my driver license was expired but I didn’t catch that nor did the check in person at LAX.  So on the way home from Albany, I was tagged as a “high security risk” traveler and had to go through special security procedures.  A couple of the security officers there had my carry-on bags checked item by item to make sure I wasn’t going to blow up the plane where my husband and baby was going to be on.  This meant I had to be separated from Mario and Ravi, which made it especially tough for Mario as he had to handle Ravi and at the same time single-handedly send our large carry-on items such as the car seat and stroller through the x-ray scanner.  I watched him from a distance and was so sad that I couldn’t help.  I was also pissed off that nobody else offered to help either!  So everyone, next time you see a parent in need, stop and offer your assistance!

It took us more time than we expected to get through security. It’s a good thing they didn’t decide to retain me for carrying questionable items in my bags.  We were immediately boarded and got on our way.  Mario and I then spent the next three hours taking turns to entertain Ravi.  We presented him with toys one at a time till he threw them all away.  Then we dazzled him with array of snacks; some he liked and put into his mouth, some he generously shared with the floor.  Ravi also spent about twenty minutes playing with my ice water.  He swooshed his hand in it, took out the ice cubes, petted, and licked it.  Eventually he just got tired of it all and started disturbing the neighbors.  I took out the final piece of my arsenal, my laptop, and started to play his favorite videos.  I even let him bang on the keys without giving him a single dirty look.  Unfortunately that attempt only provided calmness for about 30 minutes.  I was out of ideas and glad to have daddy take over.

We finally touched down in Minneapolis and had two hours before the next flight to LA.  We made our way very slowly to the next terminal by letting Ravi run free.  He would often take off in a completely different direction and try to run into people or vehicles despite our objections.  Ravi particularly enjoyed the rides on the series of people movers and cried when we had to get off.  Anyway, the hour and a half was a very long time to run after Ravi and we were extremely thankful that he fell asleep when we finally boarded and remained asleep through out the flight.  When Mario and I finally sat down to enjoy a quiet moment, we talked about how it was like before Ravi and all our trip to far away places.

The plane touched down at LAX at 11:50PM.  We were thankful that the luggage bags were already out at the luggage claim when we got there.  We loaded up all our stuff and got a cab and finally got home at 1AM.  After some light unpacking for essentials, we headed to bed at 1:30AM.  A new day will begin again tomorrow, where Mario and I will go back to work with piles and piles of things waiting for us to do and Ravi will once again play with his friends at daycare.  We are home again!

If you ever plan to travel with your child, here are couple more travel tips that I would like to share with you.  You can read the other travel tips from my previous post.

1.  Travel light.  Eliminate as much stuff as possible, for both check-in and carry-on bags.  In my case, my diaper bag didn’t perform to my expectation. I would consider eliminating it and combining its function with another carry-on luggage.  I also brought too many clothes which took up valuable luggage space.

2.  For long flights, buy a seat for the baby and bring a car seat.  Ravi napped relatively comfortably thanks to the car seat.

3.  Have a spare bag handy for emergencies such as a luggage overweight situation. Fifty pounds can be easily exceeded in even modest luggage bags. In the good old days, I must have packed 60-70 lb luggage bags on a regular basis.

4.  Always check the weight of your check-in bag before you leave home.

5.  Consider the pros and cons of red eye travel, especially with small children. While they can sleep easier than you or I can, since they’re in their car seat, they are very grouchy before they finally knock out.  In my case it didn’t work as well as traveling earlier in the day.

6.  Check the expiration date of your driver license or ID. It’s not easy being a state terrorist!

Crying in the Night

As an adult I can’t remember how it was to be a little kid. When I look at Ravi I sometimes can’t fathom what he’s thinking. He seems perfectly happy to ignore us one second, and then a moment later wants to be carried and cuddled with. It’s interesting how quickly he changes his mood and his attitude. There have been nights when he has gone from fully playing to sleeping soundly in under 6 minutes! What I have come to realize is that if I want him to be a happier and healthier kid, I have to start thinking on his terms. If I think like him, I might be able to figure out what’s bothering him and have a chance of fixing it.

A simple example is how we fixed his night time crying. I tend to put Ravi to bed around 8 or 9 pm. We get up a little before 7 am so this works out to about 10 or 11 hours of sleep. Unfortunately, there is a relatively good chance every night that Ravi will wake up around 10 pm and seeing that he is in his room by himself start crying at the top of his lungs. After racing in to comfort him, he’s very clingy and scared and refuses to be put down. As a toddler, he normally spends most of his awake time running around on his own. So this behavior is a bit worrying. Initially, my wife and I thought this was due to nightmares that he was having and he was waking up scared. We thought that he would wake up an hour after going to bed with nightmares and then start crying. This would wake him up and we would then have to come in to comfort him. Little did we know that this was not what was happening at all.

Two (or three) days ago I had the idea of making his bedroom door Ravi accessible. Right now he is too short to reach the door handle and so can’t get out of his room by himself. So we taped the door latch so that it was in the retracted position and tied a big red ribbon to the inner door knob so he could pull the door open whenever he wanted. When I first showed it to him, he kind of ignored me and thought it was a bit boring. He wasn’t at all interested in trying to pull the ribbon to get out of his room. Last night though we put him to bed at 8:30pm and settled down to rest. I had the monitor with me while I was on the computer and my wife was watching TV in the living room. At around 9:30 I heard a small muffle coming from Ravi’s room. I immediately stopped my game and started to rush out to make sure he was okay. He wasn’t crying full force yet (which is when we normally start to go for him) and I thought I’d make it to his room before then. Turns out I found Ravi in the living room watching TV with my wife. He hadn’t cried at all. Instead he had gotten up and the noise I had heard on the baby monitor was him talking while opening the door.

It seems that the crying he had been doing at night was not because of a nightmare or other issue, it was just his insecurity in being left in a room alone which he couldn’t get out of. Solve that problem and the crying went away. My wife and I are very happy with the development and will start to pay attention to solving his root cause issue instead of focusing on the symptoms. Hopefully, this little lesson will make us more aware of what the world looks like to Ravi instead of assuming that we should be looking at the world through our eyes.


Preparing for Take Off

Tomorrow, we will be taking 17 months old Ravi on his first plane trip ever to Albany NY to visit my sister and her family.  For those of you don’t know, this involves two separate flights (no direct flight from LA to Albany), with a total trip time of eight plus hours. Also we will need to arrive to the airport two hours early to check in luggage and pass the security check point, and once we get there, pick up luggage and get a ride to our destination.  So I am counting this to be about a twelve hour trip!

From my tone here, you can tell I am a bit concerned.  It will be great fun once we get there, I am totally jazzed about posting all of our experiences there.  So in order to make sure we will survive the travel, I started to prepare for this trip weeks ago.

First, I made a list of things to bring.  I add things onto the list as I realized we will need them for the trip.  Some of the bulkier items include the stroller and carseat.  I contemplated if I should bring a stroller.  Certainly I wouldn’t want to check my stroller in with regular luggage items and risk getting damaged, but it would be really nice for all our outtings.

Secondly, I researched on-line to find out what I am allowed to bring on board.  I was concerned that I would not be able to bring any milk or water for Ravi.  I found out from Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Traveling With Kids’ site that for kids, it is okay to exceed the 3.4 ounces maximum per container rule for carry on and bottles are not required to be presented in the zip-top bags.  That’s really good news. We have been giving Ravi cool boiled water to drink which I believe is safer than plain drinking water.

What about the carry on items?  Of course I would have to bring on board with us extra cloths, bottles, sippy cups, toys, food, laptops…etc.  The idea of dragging the kid, carry on bags, car seat though the airport terminals a couple of times scares me.  Ultimately it would be great to bundle everything onto something with wheels.  Initially we considered getting a wheeled carry on bag and somehow mount the car seat onto it with bungee cords, then carry the kid, diaper bag, and other carry on bags on our shoulders.  Let’s face it, Ravi is not going to be happy seating in the stroller while being cranky and tired. This idea still sounds too hard.  I found out from Delta Airlines Infant & Children’s Items page that ticketed infant/child is entitled to the standard baggage allowance, and stroller and car seats are counted as free additional baggage.  Aha!  That means we can check in the stroller at the gate (not buried under hundreds of luggages) and use it as work horse to carry all our carry on items.  Suddenly an image came into my head, of me carrying Ravi walking effortlessly through the gates while Mario pushing the stroller hauling all our carry ons steps behind us… Happiness, it brings tears to me eyes…

Lastly I solicited tips from anyone who was willing to talk to me about traveling with kids.  I cornered co-workers in the hallways, pinned friends on facebook, and what I got back are similar suggestions (double and triple confirmation!):

1.  Drink some liquid before take off, before landing, after landing to prevent headaches caused by experiencing different pressure levels.

2.  Snack, snack, and snack!  Stay away from high sugar content snacks as it would make the child more hyperactive.

3.  Bring a blanket to make him feel more comfortable.

4.  Buy a couple of new toys before the trip and introduce them to him on the flight.

5.  Bring some video entertainment.

6.  Buy your child a ticket for long flights.

7.  Travel red eye so the kid can sleep through the flight.

We have carefully planed for tips1 through 6.  We have decided against traveling red eye because I don’t want to wake up in the middle of the night and try to get on a different flight while being so tired.

How solid is our plan?  We’ll let you know in a couple of days.  In any case, if you hear from us again, then we would have survived the flights.  You will be the first to hear about it soon.