Toddler Parenting Hacks: Single Serve Container Toys

As a 12-month-old, Hazel has a newfound mobility and insatiable desire to do everything herself, and this includes the obtaining of snacks. One that we always have on hand is teething wafers, which Hazel now prefers to get out of the container herself. This rendered my system of keeping a bunch of little yums in a small tupperware problematic as Hazel would dig the container out and hand it to me to open, expecting to then be able to eat whatever was inside. After a few days of not-at-all-stealthily removing all the wafers except one while trying to find a place to hide the ones I’d removed before handing the container back to her, I had an idea.

I’d noticed that when given a container with a wafer in it, Hazel would happily take the wafer out and put it back in several times before consuming it. She would then continue to play with the container, opening and closing it (or attempting to open and close it) long after she’d eaten the snack. So I needed single serve containers that were small enough that I could easily fit a few of them in my purse.

I began with mini tupperware but soon discovered that the cost and so-easily-lost lids make them impractical. Trying to come up with a better solution as I tidied up the kitchen, I absentmindedly picked up toys to return to the toy basket when I stumbled upon the perfect single serve container toy: a plastic Easter egg. Priced as low as $7.95 for 144 eggs, they are budget friendly while also being fun and colorful. Hazel loves to study them before and after she eats the wafers inside and I don’t mind if, upon arriving home, I find that she’s chucked one out of the stroller into the we’ll-never-see-that-again abyss.

As an added bonus, Hazel now consumes fewer teething wafers because the pieces I put into the eggs are much smaller than what I previously gave her, but each egg-contained-piece keeps her busy for a longer period of time.


the I-can-see-everything diaper bag

contents from left to right, top to bottom:
bags, sunblock and diaper rash cream, hand sanitizer, pacifier,
baby snack, adult snack, more baby snacks,
baby clothes and burp cloth,
wipes and disposable liner, diapers,
changing pad

Motherhood has sparked an uptick  in my obsession with being organized, and diaper bags have been a key focus in my (un?)healthy hobby of preparedness. There are many factors here, including questions of size, pocket count, cleaning ease, and whether both parents find the bag agreeable. You can have a huge bag that fits everything you might ever need or go for something more compact while making a pact with yourself to pack minimally.

What I’ve discovered in my quest for the ultimate diaper bag, though, is that no matter how well packed and organized the bag was when I left the house, it soon morphed into a frenzied disarray, a disarray which prompted panic, anxiety, and newfound determination to figure out a better system. (The urgency becomes greater when poop is involved. There is only so much one-handed blind groping among the many items in a diaper bag as the other hand holds down a wriggling baby whose bottom parts are covered in feces that one can take.)

The cause? Not being able to see everything in the bag in order to grab the one thing I needed when I needed it. And this got me thinking. Is it a possible to have a diaper bag that allows immediate and easy access to everything in it?

And, well, it is. Just use a hanging toiletry bag with clear compartments. I’m able to fit almost* everything I (or my partner or our babysitter) would need for a few hours out with baby. In addition to the quick and easy access to all that it contains, the small compartment keeps everything organized, even during the most desperate and agitated of diaper changes. The visibility also makes the task of replenishing items much easier since I can see what is running low. (Except for the wipes which are in a semi-translucent case that I love.)

I doubt I’ll ever come up with a system of organization that I don’t continue trying to improve, but for the time being, I’m happy with this rendition of my diaper bag.

The end.

*A bottle and/or sippy cup does not fit. Bringing a toy is also a good idea.


Cat Photography: Cats With Kids

from left to right, top to bottom:
@makicocomo, @naginekos, @neco193,
@holdenandwinston, @thesproutingimage, @theboythecat

Capturing beautiful photos of cats is difficult enough without adding tiny humans to the mix, but there are Instagrammers out there who attempt it and succeed. In this post, I focus on accounts that have lovely shots of felines with their human kid companions. Although I normally feature nine accounts, there are only six this time, and finding even six was tough. Unlike the other posts in this series, not all of these accounts are exclusive to photos of cats and some have over 10,000 followers. However, the pictures that feature cats and kids are beautiful. Take a look.



1 9 3 @neco193

Gabliel is a Russian Blue residing in Yokohama, Japan. Now two years old, he was the baby until, well, a new baby showed up last year. This is a cat Instagram that occasionally includes a small human. The feline is a handsome Russian Blue with gray fur and green eyes. His photographer captures him throughout their home, a crisp setting which appears impressively clean considering the fact that a human baby lives there.



Samaria Daniel @thesproutingimage

Samaria Daniel is a photographer who captures James the cat and Judah the human, among other creatures and things. James often hangs out either in or beside the crib, both with and without Judah. They live in Bellevue, Washington, and this account features both indoor and outdoor photos. There is also a dog, but that is outside the purview of this blog.



The Boy and The Cat @theboythecat

The Boy and The Cat is a newer Instagram account with the first posts in February being of older photos showing newborn Boy with curious Cat. Their location isn’t shared, but the fun captions are in Russian. (I know they’re fun, thanks to Google Translate.) These two buddies have many adventures together involving a high chair, litter box, windows, and more. The two are, charmingly, matching gingers.



Nagisa Tanaka @naginekos

Nagisa Tanaka’s account features three cats, plants, and kids, but the stars are Maruta (the white and ginger cat) and the 13-month-old tiny girl human, who often appear together. Posting from Japan since 2011, this photographer takes vibrantly colored shots of daily life. I think it might be impossible to look at these photos and not fall in love with Maruta and her little person.



Holden and Winston @holdenandwinston

Holden is a human and Winston is a cat, and they were born just seven weeks apart. (Holden will turn one in August while Holden’s birthday falls in September.) They’re basically brothers and often rough house as siblings tend to do. Holden’s joy and awe over Winston and Winston’s patience with said joy and awe are pretty great to see.




Using a sepia-esque filter, this photographer shows us their home life in Japan with four cats and four human kids. The pictures are beautiful and most feature both cats and tiny humans. makicocomo first posted in 2011, and one can scroll through the photos and watch both sets of babies (feline and human) growing up.


Before I close, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the Instagram account that inspired this post. @_kyalotta asks for photos not to be copied so I did not include them here, but you would be doing yourself a disservice if you did not check out these gorgeous photos of cat and tiny humans.

More soon.

DIY Stroller Organizer

DIY Stroller Organizer with the Essentials:
Baby sunscreen, snacks (teething wafers and banana), water for Mom and baby (well, the baby’s cup is in the cup-holder, but it could have fit in the basket), sunglasses for Mom, teething toy, keys. (Phone not pictured because I was using it to take this picture.)

I love organizing things, and having a baby has opened up an enormous new realm of organizational possibilities. Take, for instance, the stroller organizer. Ten months after Hazel was born, I realized that I could no longer live without one. I needed immediate access to the essentials, and the basket underneath the seat required too much stooping and rummaging which so quickly escalated into desperation as Hazel screamed (which she often prefers to do in quieter settings, such as the public library). Hanging my purse with supplies from the aftermarket velcro hooks on the handles started as a decent substitute but soon became another source of frustration as zippers and the non-baby stuff of purse-land stood in between me and whatever thing I was hoping would magically turn the situation around.

So I needed a stroller organizer, but my tight summer budget prevented me from buying this lovely one and my non-existent sewing skills kept me from making this cute little number. What was a resourceful and broke mom who is obsessed with constantly creating better systems of organization to do?

I spend a lot of time in Family Dollar. There is one right up the street from our house*, and it’s a nice place to rest for a few minutes on our morning walks. Well, Family Dollar has these little baskets for $1 each, and I couldn’t help but think that one of these might make for a great DIY stroller organizer. And it does. I initially used twist ties to attach it, which worked just fine until it was time to fold up the stroller before placing in the back of my, um, automobile. The basket needed to be more easily removable. So I used the velcro stroller hooks I already had. Keeping the basket tightly attached (and therefore not so prone to tipping) takes a little bit of finagling, but I am still enjoying my budget-friendly organizer very much.

The end.

*I often wonder about referring to my home as a house when I don’t actually live in a house. Our home is a townhouse, sharing walls with neighbors. According to Merriam Webster, house can be defined as “a building in which a family lives,” which is quite broad and most likely includes townhouses in its umbrella definition. But it still gives me pause. This is similar to the times when I say car to refer to my truck. I left my phone in the car. Sometimes I catch myself before the words come out of my mouth, but then I always feel like I’m bragging. I left my phone in the truck, and yes, I am very proud of the fact that I drive a truck. I’ve even gone so far as to try to use the all-encompassing vehicle instead, but good golly, then it feels like I’m pointing a neon sign to my overthinking of this and everything else.**

**This makes me think of how at one point, perhaps a few years ago, I had to work really hard at saying phone instead of iPhone when referring to my personal cellular device. I am a tool for Apple products, but I don’t need to be announcing that to the world.

Stunning Feline Photography, Street Cats Edition


from left to right, top to bottom:
@clarkstoeckley, @ackey_mk2, @nekoomoi,
@hkguidemeow, @ottiliekat, @berner2222,
@sev_cats, @kochi_56562, @nora_wasabie

Cat Instagram. It’s not just for the domestic feline. There are many fine photographers pounding pavements worldwide to capture cats on the streets. Here, I share with you nine such accounts. Still in play from my first post in this series are my cat photography criteria: photographers who do not depend on gimmicks or gorgeous models alone, who post beautiful and interesting pictures of the cats they present, and accounts with fewer than 10,000 followers.

Here they are, nine Cat Instagrams featuring stunning photography of street cats.



中川こうじ KOJI NAKAGAWG @kochi_56562

中川こうじ photographs street cats of Kyoto and has posted over 1,500 beautiful pictures.


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日日猫色 @ottiliekat

日日猫色 posts daily from Taiwan and captures cats on sidewalks, chairs, ledges, roofs, and more.


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あっきー @ackey_mk2

あっきー posts a picture a day from what looks to be either an island or coastal setting in Japan. This account is filled with striking colors and angles featuring many cats quite close up.


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香港街貓圖鑑 @hkguidemeow

香港街貓圖鑑 captures cats in the urban setting of Hong Kong, striving to uncover each feline’s individual story through these gorgeous and varied photos.


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h2o @nekoomoi

h2o posts from Yokohama, though the exact location is kept secret out of respect for the cats, who are shown in many lovely settings.


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Clark Stoeckley @clarkstoeckley

Clark Stoeckley’s account is filled with gorgeous pictures of cats in Kuwait and, more recently, in Queens.



Nora Wasabie @nora_wasabie

Nora Wasabie posts pictures of striking cats in Japan, using beautiful framing to capture these street felines in many different environments.


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Севастопольские Коты @sev_cats

Севастопольские Коты captures cats in the city of Sevastopol on the Black Sea, often featuring cats by the water, in the trees, and in the snow.



Katu(カツ) @berner2222

Katu posts from Japan, and many of the photographs are action shots. Especially charming are the cats peeking up through holes like moles in concrete roadsides.


Nine Cat Instagrams with nine talented photographers. Are you following them yet?

More next week…