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Category: Product reviews

Product Reviews (Why): Newest additions

Product Reviews (Why): Newest additions

In continuation of the “What is that and where did you get it?” post, today marks the last of a four-part series of product reviews sharing the “why” behind our newest additions: the KidCo Go Pod and the 7AM Enfant Pookie Poncho.  Both of these products came to us second hand after Jude was born and I’m honestly not sure why I didn’t snap them up when Clyde was little because they’re really great!

img_0488-2KidCo Go Pod: Made by the same company as the PeaPod, the Go Pod is a folding exersaucer with a fabric top and seat on a metal collapsible frame.  When collapsed, it fits in a nylon bag with a shoulder strap like a folding camping chair.  Jude is just 5 months old in this picture and with such a nice deep seat, he is supported enough to start standing in it – yay!  Around the seat are toy loops so you can hook on a variety of new toys all the time.  In front of baby is a mesh cup holder and a fabric cup holder for drinks and snacks.

We have used this a handful of times outside this winter and otherwise have it set up in the basement so we have an exersaucer on both levels of the house.  I foresee this becoming a staple piece of gear for us outside when the weather gets nice.  One of the features I like best is the attached fabric at the bottom acting as a mat for their feet.  This is basically an invitation for me to put them in the dirt 🙂

7AM Enfant Pookie PonchoThis was recommended to me by my sister-in-law and it did not disappoint! The Pookie Poncho is a down-filled coat for the car seat, stroller or over a baby carrier.  I have had it set up on Jude’s infant car seat (Peg Perego 4-35) since November for the winter and it is amazing.  It looks sleek, is well made and extremely warm.  In any temperature, I put Jude in his car seat in plain clothes with a thin hat and he almost always comes up having broken a mild sweat.  That’s saying a lot for an Ottawa winter!  I’ve thoroughly enjoyed not having to wrestle with extra layer on a little one this winter.

It has a very thin piece of fabric that sits inside the car seat making it is car seat safe.  The main part sits over the outside of the carseat and tightens with a drawstring at the feet.  It has a zipper down the middle and from side to side towards the top making it really easy to open for long car rides and to get baby in and out.

I haven’t yet used this on the stroller for my big boy but I am looking forward to the versatility it offers for the next few winters!  Stay tuned to see if it stays with us or if it will remain a car seat favourite and be passed along.

That bring us to the end of product reviews for our top favourites!  Comment below if there’s a product of gear that you love so I can check it out!

In closing, and a nod towards the growing minimalism trend, I will admit that I was mildly self conscious about the mid-size pile of gear I assembled for product reviews.  I briefly doubted the necessity of each item and then reminded myself that these years with small kids are short and they are hard.  Getting everyone dressed, eating a good meal and getting out the door (bonus for being on time) will eventually become mindless tasks for all involved but for now they are like being an ultra-marathoner accomplishing one major feat after another.  For this reason, if there is a product that exists to make any of these tasks a little easier, sign. me. up!

I will leave you with this.  Do your research, shop smart, shop second hand and, when you can, shop small.  Use what you buy and when you’re done with it, pass it along to another mama that’s walking just a few steps behind you.

Product Reviews (Why): Thule stroller

Product Reviews (Why): Thule stroller

In continuation of the “What is that and where did you get it?” post, today marks the third of a four-part series (almost there!) of product reviews sharing the “why” behind one of my all-time favourite purchases: the Thule stroller.

If you or your spouse is anything like my practical husband, you are likely telling yourself that you already have a stroller and don’t need a second one.  I’m here to tell you first hand that if you are someone that enjoys any or all of the following: running, cycling or skiing, the Thule stroller will change your life.  I know… “change your life” sounds a little extreme but it really was the case for both of us.  All of the sudden, rain or shine (or snow), I could keep up my active lifestyle effortlessly without having to wait for someone to watch Clyde so that I could go.

I realize that this stroller is a hefty investment up front but I guarantee it will deliver on enjoyment over many years.  We first bought the Thule Chariot Single new from Mountain Equipment Co-op with the running and biking attachment.  They did a “bundle” price for us with 10% off – not a lot but it helped!  For Christmas, we got the skiing/hiking attachment from Nana.  After Jude was born, I sold this stroller to a friend and bought the Thule CX2 on Kijiji complete with the infant sling and baby support.

These strollers are very well made and extremely versatile.  They are light weight which is particularly noticeable when pushing it on a run and when loading/unloading from the car by yourself. They assemble and collapse with ease and the accessories snap into place smoothly.  Both models have a place to hold the strolling wheels so you can change them at anytime and the CX2 also has a spot to hold the cycling attachment.  This will be particularly useful this summer when I bike to the park so I can lock my bike and continue to push the kids in the stroller.

These strollers are truly equipped for all types of weather – and for weather changes along the way.  Unlike a traditional stroller, the seat is fully enclosed. The top section zips over the kids and has a mesh layer for warm days with the option of a plastic overlay if it’s cold or wet.  When you don’t want the plastic layer, it just rolls up near the handlebars for easy storage.  There is also a flap on the inside that comes down to keep the sun out of their eyes.  The interior is roomy for blankets, snacks and toys and has small mesh pockets near their feet to store keys, phones etc.  The harness straps are easily adjustable for a t-shirt or a snowsuit.  Clyde has ridden with us for 10km runs and 20km bike rides with (minimal) complaints.  After all, he is a toddler 😉

When purchasing this stroller for the second time, there were two features that I wanted to upgrade:

  • Suspension!  We are on country roads so we would hear poor Clyde say “ow!” when cycling on some of the bumpy streets.  I don’t imagine this would be noticeable on City streets or sidewalks but if you’re in a bumpy area, I would consider upgrading for some suspension.
  • Storage!  Both models offer storage in the back of the stroller.  The Chariot (base model) has a sleeve style pocket along the back and shares the fabric panel of the seat.  I had to be careful when packing not to load it so that Clyde was leaning back on hard things.  The CX2 has a basket that’s unattached from the stroller and folds up when not in use.  This was not a deal breaker for me with the base model but a handy feature when upgrading.

I honestly can’t say enough how much joy this stroller brings me and how much it helped me break down some of the barriers that come with being an active Mom with babies.  If you are even considering getting back to some of your activities but feel like it’s not possible now that you’re a Mom, let me tell you that it’s possible and well worth the effort!  See you on the trails!

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Product reviews (Why): Mealtime favourites

Product reviews (Why): Mealtime favourites

In continuation of the “What is that and where did you get it?” post, today marks the second of a four-part series of product reviews sharing the “why” behind some of our mealtime favourites.

See below for reviews of the Lobster Chair, Ciao Portable High Chair, WOW Cup and EZPZ mat.

Phil & Ted Lobster ChairIn December of our first year with Clyde, we started making plans for holiday parties and Christmas dinners.  Up until this time, Clyde was little enough that it was still cute for him to lie on the table beside us at a restaurant so I had never given any thought to a high chair.  All of the sudden he was a squirming, rolling machine and I was panicking about what these nights out would look like with a baby in tow.  I started doing some research about travel high chairs and discovered the Phil & Ted Lobster chair – hands down one of the best products we bought.  This canvas chair has a metal rail around the top and a vice grip on either side to attach to a table.  It is sturdy, easy to clean and extremely compact – like fits in a  child’s backpack compact.  I can’t even begin to count the number of times that we used this chair at home, at friends houses and at restaurants.  In fact, our 30lb 2.5year old Clyde still opts to climb in for meals at the breakfast bar and I have no concerns about its stability.

The only downside is that it is only intended for a flat table so anything with a ledge or a round table will not hold it properly.  With that said, I recently picked up a travel chair with the big arms to accommodate the ledge on our kitchen table and I can say with absolute confidence that I would choose the Lobster every time for its size and light weight.  In all the places that we took it, there was a small handful of times that we truly couldn’t make the Lobster chair work.  Otherwise, we were able to macgiver it and put a chair under it just in case it slipped.  I will also add that the tray it comes with is not great in my opinion.  It’s supposed to slide between the arms but it never stays put.  See below for my alternative, the ezpz mat!

Back to the good stuff!  Speaking to good customer service, there was a clip that popped out of one of the arms for the chair.  It was still safe to use but the function of untwisting the vice to remove the chair didn’t work properly and it was becoming a big pain.  I sent a picture to Phil and Teds asking for a replacement part and was very satisfied to be mailed a brand new chair just days later.  Very classy!

Ciao Portable High Chair: This high chair is the ultimate must-have for the outdoor, camping, bonfire loving family.  It is a canvas high back seat with a full-size tray and mesh pocket on a metal collapsable frame.  It is extremely durable and wipes down easily with a wet cloth.  Once collapsed, this chair fits into a canvas sleeve type bag with a shoulder strap – just like the adult version of the folding camping chair.  The vantage point for babies from this chair is great as it puts them at about seated height for the average adult.

This is another item that lives in the trunk of my car.  We used it as a high chair at friends houses, as an extra for friends in our own kitchen and just about any outdoor venue – yard work, bonfires, barbecues etc.  You can find this chair in lots of colours which is always fun including camo for those that are bringing baby to the hunt camp!

WOW Cup: For a little while, sippy cups and water bottles were my nemesis.  I tried lots of different brands with varying success but ultimately it always wound up broken or leaked from the beginning.  I was finally recommended the WOW Cup and am here to tell you that it is magic!  It is a spill proof, leak proof cup that you can toss in your purse with absolute confidence.  It is a plastic cup with a plastic lid that has a silicone insert in the middle.  It encourages a natural drinking motion that lifts the silicone piece for the water to come out.  Clyde started using his around 1 year of age and we now own an army of them – one at daycare, one in his backpack, one in my purse, one in his bed and a few extra for washing rotation.

img_0010EZPZ Mat: I came across the Ezpz mat while searching for a tray alternative for the Lobster chair (see above).  Thought of and made by Moms, it’s no surprise that it is every parents dream for mealtime with a youngster. It has three separate trays so that food doesn’t touch and it sticks to the table so that it can’t be thrown to the ground – hooray!  It didn’t take long for Clyde to realize that he could lift the corners to move the tray but he was almost 18 months when we got it so I think I will have a few months with Jude before he figures it out.  Best of all, it is dishwasher safe!  At the end of our meal, this fits in the bottom rack of my dishwasher like any other plate.

This tray is also a great size for travel and often comes with us on the road.  It fits perfectly under the arms of the Lobster Chair.  I later picked up the mini mat which comes in a little carry bag.  It’s an even better size for travel but a little small for toddler meals so I’m looking forward to using it more with Jude.

There is a full line of colours and styles including a mat, a bowl and a snack tray.  They are a great company to follow on social media to see all of the different uses for these trays including crafts and activities.

Check back tomorrow for Part Three: Thule Stroller and accessories.

[Keep an eye out for video reviews in the coming weeks so you can see these products and more in action!]
Product reviews (Why): Part one

Product reviews (Why): Part one

In continuation of yesterday’s “What is that and where did you get it?” post, today marks the first of a four-part series of product reviews.  Yesterday, I shared a list of my favourite baby/kid products and included my thoughts on how and where I shop.  Over the next few days, I am digging a little deeper and sharing the “why” behind each of those products including how we use it and what we love about it.

Kicking things off today is the Travel Grobag, Angel Dear blankets and the PeaPod.

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Winter car seat walk in the travel Grobag

Sleep Sac: Travel GrobagA sleep sac is essentially a cross between a sleeping bag and a wearable blanket.  There are many different brands available and they can be purchased in different weights to accommodate varying temperatures.  These weights are listed as “TOG Values” ranging from 0.5 (summer weight) to 2.5 (winter weight).  There is also a range of sizes – typically, 0-6mo, 6-18mo and 18-36mo.  We have two in a mid-weight tog (1.0) for both 0-6mo and 6-18mo so that there is one in the crib and one in the wash.  I have been able to account for the wide range in temperates year-round via pajama choice – diaper only for hot summer nights and fleece sleeper for cold winters.  As for brands, I have one Halo, one Ikea, one Kyte Baby and one Grobag and haven’t noticed my boys sleeping better or worse in any of them.  That said, my travel Grobag is the only sleepsac that I leave the house with.  It has a velcro opening in the back and a two-way zipper in the front to accommodate the crotch strap of a car seat or stroller making for the ultimate car-seat to crib (and vice versa) transfer.

img_1295Angel Dear blanketAn Angel Dear blanket makes the perfect companion for your little one from infant to school age.  They are affordable, cute, small, washer and dryer friendly and most importantly, available for purchase if ever the original is lost or damaged.  These blankets serve both as playmates and a source of comfort for our boys.  We chose Brown Monkey for Clyde and he is hands down his best friend.  Following the advice of my sister, we started bringing monkey around for Clyde when he was just a few weeks old so that he would attach himself to monkey instead of something that wasn’t as portable or replaceable.  img_0326Before long, it was Clyde asking for monkey to come along and now we don’t dare leave the house without him.  There are a total of 6 monkeys in circulation for Clyde – one at daycare, one living at each grandparents house, one in his backpack, one with him and one emergency spare hidden away in our closet.  When I found out that I was pregnant with Jude, one of the first things that I did was pick out his Angel Dear blanket because I was so excited!  We chose the fox for him and at just five months, they’re already pretty good friends.

KidCo Pea Pod (Baby/Toddler): When I was expecting Clyde, I went into Babies R Us by myself one evening to get a head start on our registry.  I had no idea what we needed but I left with three things on the registry – the PeaPod being one of them.  With a summer baby coming, I knew that I would appreciate a safe and shady place for him to rest but it ended up serving me so much more than I had anticipated.   We brought the PeaPod everywhere we would have brought a pack and play and so greatly appreciated how compact it was.  After a while, it just became something that lived in the backseat of my car in case we ended up staying somewhere for an impromptu nap.  When at someone else’s house, we needed very little floor space or could put it in the middle of their bed while we visited.  With it being so light and compact, one person can pick it up by either side at the top and move it without waking the baby.  One summer while we were camping, we put him to sleep at a friends campsite and then walked him asleep in the tent to our campsite at the end of the night [#transfergoals]. Clyde fit comfortably in the PeaPod until he was just shy of 18 months.

After that, I purchased the PeaPod Plus and was very impressed that it included an inflatable mattress and a sleeping bag.  It’s still fairly compact for travel and is spacious enough to accommodate a toddler until three or four years of age.  Unfortunately, there was quite a gap between Clyde sleeping in the PeaPod and the Plus and the concept of being in a tent was no longer something he was used to.  I’m hoping to try it again now that Jude will be in the smaller one and hope the “brother effect” will bring back the love for the PeaPod.

Check back tomorrow for Part Two: Mealtime Favourites.

[Keep an eye out for video reviews in the coming weeks so you can see these products and more in action!]

What is that and where did you get it?

What is that and where did you get it?

If there’s anything I get asked all the time it’s “What is that and where did you get it?”  I’ve put together a list of products that most commonly spark that conversation and some tips on where and how I shop.  I’ll start by saying that I basically eat this stuff for breakfast.  There are so many amazing baby/kid products and buying/selling in the second hand market makes it feasible to try it all without constantly investing new money.  Most of these items have been with me for both boys but the last two items on the list I bought since having Jude and I’m honestly not sure how I survived without them:

Regardless of what I’m buying, there’s a few things that I take into consideration.  Above all, I do some intense research.  I watch endless product reviews on Youtube, read blog articles and ask around to other Mom friends.  Before buying, I want to see the product in action, get a feel for the quality and see how it folds up and transports.  Next, I look into the company itself.  I try to get a feel for its reputation and how well they stand behind their products.  I’m shopping for products that can withstand the unpredictability of my active toddler and would like to buy from the company that says “it’s all good, we get it” if ever something goes wrong.

When I’m ready to buy, I start shopping the second hand market.  Tips!

Facebook:  From your homepage, you can search any item (i.e. Lobster Chair) and it will bring up any public posts from friends and groups on one page.  This allows you to see all the listings in one place without having to go from FSOT (for sale or trade) page to page.

Instagram: There’s a growing network of selling “preloved” clothes and items on IG.  Items are posted with a cost shipped.  My favourite is a fellow boy mom in Toronto @prelovedbyjacob!

Kijiji:  Set an alert to be notified when a new item has been posted.  This is particularly helpful if you’re chasing something hard to find or popular.  This has to be done from the Kijiji website but your notifications will come through the app.

If I can’t find what I’m looking for second hand, my preference is to shop local.  Living in the west end of Ottawa, my first choice is Belly Laughs.  What I like most about shopping smaller stores is the educated staff.  More often than not the people working are Moms that have first hand experience with the products and make great recommendations.

To save myself from entering the Guinness Book of World Records for the longest blog post, I will save the “why” I am so in love with these products for another time.  Check back again soon for specific product reviews.