Sunday, July 28, 2013

Kid Storage: Coats and Backpacks

I hate clutter. I am constantly picking things up and putting things away because I really have trouble going about my business when there is stuff everywhere. I love the idea of having a set of hooks for A's things that he can actually reach! So far it seems that he shares my need for order and organization, so he loves that he has a place to put his things. I ended up hanging these a little bit higher than A can reach right now, but he will be able to reach very soon. He can get things down, but can't quite reach to hang up his coat or backpack.

I am really not handy, but I was able to put up this set of wall hooks from Target in no time. I had been using Command hooks but those did not last long...

I am looking to hang some sort of shelf or basket where A can put his shoes. Pinterest has given me a lot of really great ideas, but I haven't decided exactly what I want to do yet.

I am also working on a magnetic calendar for our daily routines that I am really excited to share as soon as it is done!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Review: Baby Jogger City Mini GT Double

     I started researching double strollers when I was pregnant with Baby E. I was looking for a double stroller that could do it all. Even though no stroller is perfect, the Baby Jogger City Mini Double GT (BJCMGTD enough letters for you?) has been an amazing fit for our family! Here are some highlights:

A winter walk when baby E was around  6 weeks old

The Double GT is a big stroller. Any side by side double is going to feel big, and the GT is no exception. It is 29.5 inches wide, and fits through all standard doorways. I have however been pleasantly surprised at some small spaces it has been able to fit.
The size works great for our lifestyle, because I do not really use my double stroller for errands. A prefers to walk on short errands, so I just use a single umbrella stroller for the baby. At 33 pounds, I would not want to be loading and unloading the double GT multiple times throughout the day.

The seats are TALL and have plenty of room. A is a very tall 2.5 year old and he fits well in the GT which was a main reason we chose this stroller over some other contenders. The seat is more supportive than the regular City Mini seat, but still does not sit totally upright. My toddler doesn't seem bothered, but a child who likes to sit up very straight, may not be comfortable. The seats have a near full recline, and I placed my newborn in the seat with just a Snuzzler pillow. It has the option for use with a car seat, but I prefer to use the regular seat, even for newborns.

The stroller has 8.5 inch forever air tires. This was a major selling point for me. I love that I do not have to worry about my tires going flat or needing air. That being said, it was an adjustment to switch from air-filled tires (single Bumbleride Indie) to forever-air tires on the GT. I can feel more of the road or sidewalk, and the stroller doesn't glide over bumps as easily. All that being said, I find it very pleasant to use the stroller for long walks around the neighborhood, even on bumpy sidewalks. The Double GT has front-wheel suspension, and I really only feel the weight of the fully loaded stroller when going up hills. If you need to do a lot of off-roading with your stroller, this may not be for you. I am really loving it for everyday use around the neighborhood and for longer outings.

The GT has the classic Baby Jogger fold, although you need two hands to fold the Double. I love that it takes a few seconds to fold or unfold, because I do not want to spend precious time wrestling with the stroller. It is pretty big when folded, but fits easily in the trunk of our SUV.

The Double GT has some great features that really add to the value of the stroller:
  • The stroller has 2 separate, very large canopies with great coverage and 2 peekaboo windows. The material in the back of each seat can also be rolled up to allow air to flow through the seat on a very hot day. 
  • I love that the parking break is up near the hands! Locking and unlocking the break is extremely easy and convenient. 
  • Adjustable handlebar for comfortable walking 
  • The basket is large, but does not have any great points of access. It would be really hard to get a large diaper bag in there, but you can fit in a lot of smaller items. There are also great mesh pockets on the back of each seat which are very handy for storing water bottles, sunscreen, or small toys and snacks.
  • There is a rain cover and cup-holder available for purchase. I love the rain cover, but I am still on the hunt for a cup holder that works better with the Double GT. The way the cup holder attaches to the handlebar feels awkward to me. 

Overall, the Double GT is a great double stroller that has the capability to be a one and only. It pushes great outside, yet is not so huge that it is impossible to fold up and put in the car for outings. If you are looking for a comfortable and versatile double stroller, this might be the one for you! 

Just back from a walk!

*Disclosure of Material Connection: This post contains affiliate links

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Toddlers and Screen Time

Up until a few months ago, I could not get A to watch anything for more than 3 minutes. It's not like I was encouraging him to veg out in front of the television, but I remember those long newborn nursing sessions with baby E, when the TV would have come in handy.

Fast forward a few months, and A now loves all things videos - TV, iPhone, iPad -he'll take whatever he can get. I find myself worrying that he may be getting too much screen time, and working to set limits that work for our family. My biggest concern about screen time is that it takes away precious time from playing. I believe that toddlers learn and develop most through active play and meaningful interactions, so I do not want to be taking too much time away from that. 

Hard at work learning the rules of Baseball while visiting family

I think there is a time and a place for screen time, and I am not ashamed to say that I actually depend on it at certain times of the day. Big brother A's willingness to watch a few minutes of Mickey Mouse while I nurse in the other room, has quite possibly saved my nursing relationship. I don't know what they did before TV, but I have not found any other way to get my toddler to let me leave the room for more than a minute or two.

The key in our house is to set limits and stick to them. Here is what is working for us right now:

  • The TV is not in our main living space. A does not see it during the normal course of the day, so he does not ask for it. He generally watches one show in the morning while getting dressed, and one show in the evening after he is in his pajamas. 
  • iPhone is strictly for nursing time only. I do pull out the phone once in a while during the day for a quick YouTube video, but he is only allowed to "man" the phone when I am nursing. It is scary how quickly he has learned to navigate different games and apps. 

  • I try very hard not to veer from our screen time limits. If A senses that I am relaxing the boundaries, he will naturally start testing the limits of how much he can watch or play games. I try to think long and hard before I let him have screen time at an non-routine time. 
Even though he is willing to watch TV for longer at this age, as soon as I ask him to turn it off, he is usually more than willing, and happy to go play with his toys/go outside/etc. I definitely sense the slippery slope that is screen time and toddlers, but with proper limits, a little bit goes a long way. I feel kind of guilty, because baby E has been getting some screen time too...I guess that's what happens when you're the second child. 

On a related note, there are some great shows out there for this age set. Some of A's favorites are Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Super Why, and Thomas. I don't count on the TV to teach him anything, but sometimes it's an added benefit! 

 What is your approach to screen time?

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Cooking Fun

     A is 2.5, and loves to help me cook and bake. It is a great opportunity to spend quality time together and to learn something too!

I've been trying out different kid friendly muffin recipes lately, and I really like this one from the Homemade Baby Food Recipes website. I have made these a few times with carrots, sweet potatoes, and squash purees (either on their own, or in combination). They are so good, and my husband and I love to snack on them as well.

Sweet Potato Muffins
4 oz (1 cup) rolled oats
4 oz (1 cup) whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp nutmeg
3/4 tsp cinnamon
8 oz (1 cup) mashed, cooked sweet potato
4 oz (1/2 cup) dark brown sugar
3 tbsp canola oil
2 tbsp dried cranberries 
2 fl oz (1/4 cup) milk (I use water or soy milk also)
1 egg

I just mix everything together in one bowl, and spoon into a regular muffin tin, or mini muffin tin.

A loves to help me measure, pour, and stir. There are many opportunities to practice counting and work on our motor skills. 

I usually have A stand on a chair, but I'm always nervous that he's going to fall. I have looked into getting the learning tower, but it takes up a lot of space, and we have a small kitchen. 

Here are some tips to remember when cooking with kids in the kitchen:

  • Get out all your ingredients, bowls, and spoons out before starting. You don't want to have to turn your back while your toddler has access to the bowl of batter.
  • Give your toddler an easy job that he can work on, while you do other tasks (stirring, sorting, etc.)
  • Make sure your toddler is safely out of the way when opening the oven or handling sharp knives.

Happy Baking!

Sweet Potato Muffins
From Homemade Baby Food Recipe website. All ours get eaten before I remember to take a picture!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Review: Fisher Price Space Saver High CHair


      When we were looking for a high chair for A a couple years ago, we had very limited space in our kitchen. We decided to try the Fisher Price Space Saver High Chair, because it doesn't take up any additional space.

     The idea of this high chair is that it is a full-featured high chair that straps on to one of your existing chairs. The pad and back can also be removed for the seat to be used as a booster when your child is older. Here is my experience with the seat:

  • The seat is very supportive, and has 3 recline positions. I used the high chair as an extra place to put Baby E down in the kitchen long before he started eating solids. 
  • The Space Saver comes with a very large tray and built in cup-holder.
  • The High Chair has an easily removable pad that can go in the washing machine. The seat itself is also easily cleaned, but I do find that a lot of crumbs fall through the pad to the seat, so it needs to be cleaned often. This is the one thing that annoys me most about this high chair. 
  • The padding is not as plush as some full-sized high chairs but it is definitely adequate, even for a very young baby. 
  • The seat has a 5-point harness that can later be converted to a 3-point harness for use in booster seat mode. I do not love the seat as a booster, because it feels very big compared to some other booster seats out there. 
Baby E chilling in his Space Saver

Some things to remember:
  • The seat works best on a chair that has a hard and flat seat. We have the chair strapped to a dining room chair at my in-laws and the chair either leans forward or back. This is fine for a short visit, but not a good long-term set up. 
  • The seat needs enough space to recline back. On my old smaller kitchen chairs, I had trouble using the 3rd recline position. On my new chairs, I have plenty of room. 
  • If you are using the Space Saver on a seat with a cushion, make sure to put a towel down underneath the seat to prevent any damage from dirt and crumbs. 
  • I think Fisher Price has made some updates to the 2012/2013 model of this seat, including changing/removing the arm rests, which I think is a great change. 
Here is A as a baby enjoying the Space Saver. This is on our old smaller kitchen chairs. 
      Overall, we have been very happy with the seat for both kids. If I had unlimited space in my kitchen, I would probably go with a full-featured stand-alone high chair, just to free up the extra chair. But if space is at a premium in your house, this is a great option that does not sacrifice much if anything in baby's comfort or safety.

*Disclosure of Material Connection: This post contains affiliate links

Friday, July 12, 2013

Baby Routines: 8 months

     My kids thrive on having good routines and structure to their day. I really like the Baby Whisperer books by Tracy Hogg. I think she gives a very good framework for understanding babies needs, especially their sleep needs. (More about the Baby Whisperer in another post)

Now that I am doing this the second time around, I am a lot more comfortable trusting my instincts and following the baby's cues. I never thought I would be exclusively nursing at 8 months, but here I am with a baby who refuses to take a bottle. Little E has recently started taking better naps (let's hope that continues!) 

His days usually look something like this. 

6-6:30: Wake up and nurse

7:30: Solids - he's only eating a few ounces of purees 2-3 times a day

9:00: nurse and nap time - he sleeps anywhere from 45 minutes to 1.5 hours +

10:15/10:30: wake up and feed again

12:00: solids 

1:00: Nurse and nap time again :) Same time frame as before. I try to have A nap at this time as well. 

3:00: Wake up and nurse 

4:30/5:00: solids again

6-630: nurse and bedtime

He was down to 1-2 feeds at night, but the past few nights he's been up 3 times to eat. I am trying to consolidate some of his daytime feeds, but I like to feed him before his nap so he doesn't wake up early from hunger. 

This is a good routine for us, although it is a rare day when everything actually goes according to plan. It gives us time to get out of the house before lunch, and again later in the afternoon if we want. E has a really hard time napping in his carseat or stroller, so I usually stay home for nap time and use that time to do crafts or other special activities with his big brother.

Trying out our new puzzle while E naps

What does your 6-12 month old's day look like?

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Favorite Toys: Age 2.5

         I am always on the lookout for new toys, so I thought I would list some of my 2.5 year old's favorite toys. We don't do a lot of electronic toys in this house, and I like looking for open ended toys that can be used many different ways.

         Here is his current list of favorites:
A absolutely loves these pots and pans, and his little friends are usually immediately drawn to this set. He uses them to cook, and create random concoctions like crayon soup and salad dressing pancakes. We have a toy kitchen as well, but the pots and pans are often used as a stand-alone toy, and I love how he really uses his imagination when playing.

  • Puzzles, Puzzles and more Puzzles
Right now, A is really into these Melissa and Doug puzzles. I love the sturdy wooden pieces, which are easy for him to manipulate and stay together well. He is also into larger 24 piece puzzles that he likes to do with me or my husband. I got this great set of Melissa and Doug wooden puzzles.

These have just recently started getting a lot more play. They are great for building all sorts of towers, houses, steps, you name it! 
This has been a favorite for a while now. It is great both indoors and out. A loves to run outside while pushing this car, and there is a great little area in the back where he can put his snack or whatever toy is coming on our walk.

  • Play-Doh
A has just recently gotten into Play-Doh the last couple months. He has some texture sensitivities, so it is great to see him working with Play-Doh and really enjoying it. I got a great starter set similar to this, that has 4 small containers of Play-Doh and a bunch of animal shapes. He still needs some help to roll out the Play-Doh and push down on the animal shapes, but this is a great activity for when baby E is napping. The one downside is the little pieces of Play-Doh that get into the carpet, but I guess that's what a playroom is for.

  • A Random Red Bucket
This list would not be complete without his beloved red bucket. This is just any old pail that we got from a friend. He uses it to carry around whatever objects he is obsessing over at the moment. This bucket often comes with us to the store, on walks, to the pool and beach (obviously!), and to the park. Not sure why he loves it so much, but it sure is cute to watch. (Strangely enough, I don't have a picture of him with his bucket, ill have to add one later)

What is your 2.5 year old playing with?

*Disclosure of Material Connection: This post contains affiliate links

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

First Blog Post! Baby Jogger City Versa Review

Yay for my first blog post ever!

I love strollers. Before having my first child, I did not even know that this world of stroller obsessions existed. But I am officially hooked now. I spend lots of time reading about different strollers...and lusting after them. 

I had a Bumbleride Indie (another great stroller) when my older son A was a baby. But for new baby E, I wanted to try something different. I missed not having a reversible option on the Indie so that was my major motivation for picking a new stroller. After lots of research, I settled on the Baby Jogger City Versa, and it was definitely love at first stroll. 

I have seen many reviewers say that the Versa is nothing pretty to look at, but I don't have any problems with how it looks. And I am a big fan of the green color. I almost went with black, but am very happy I decided to go with green. It's a lighter shade, almost like a sage green. 

It took less than 5 minutes to assemble the stroller, and then it was ready for a test drive. Here is what I have to say about the stroller after owning it for 5+ months now:


fold: The Versa has a spectacularly easy fold for a reversible stroller. You can fold the stroller with the seat facing either direction-simply fold the seat forward and then pull the signature baby jogger handle on the bottom and the stroller snaps shut. 

push: This stroller has an amazing push, especially for a stroller without air tires. It is great both indoors and out, and I can push it easily with one hand, even with my heavier toddler in the stroller. It doesn't have the super smooth feel that air tires will give you, but I think it is about as good as it gets for EVA foam wheels. 

Basket: The basket is huge and easily accessible. I can fit a jam packed diaper bag in there, or pack it up for a trip to the zoo or pool. 

Versatility: This stroller is great for both indoors and outdoors. With the great basket, medium weight, awesome fold, and good wheels, this could definitely be a one and only stroller. My tall 2.5 year old is comfortable in the stroller, and loves to chat with mommy while we ride :) 

I also love the hand break up by the handlebar instead of down on the bottom. I am neutral about the handle bar - it is comfortable enough and easily adjustable, although sometimes I do wish it was a little taller. I am 5'7'' and sometimes it feels a little awkward even on the tallest setting, but I think it may just be because I am used  to pushing a double stroller. 


Canopy: This is the only major complaint I have about the stroller. I wish the canopy was larger, or had another expandable section. It is often hard to get full coverage especially early or late in the day. I have also had a couple issues with my canopy popping off either during the folding or unfolding process (not sure), but it only takes a second to re-attach. 

Extra Info:

There is a slight learning curve with the recline mechanism. It is a small lever on the back of the stroller, that you need to pull up to recline the stroller. But after having the stroller for a while, I have no issues reclining the stroller. 

For the amount of stroller you get, the size/weight are not bad at all. I personally would not want to be carrying this in and out of my car all day long, but stronger people may feel differently. This is not a lightweight stroller - it weighs a bit over 24 pounds. But it folds very compactly so not a bad option if you need to put it in the trunk, or store it in your living room like me.

*Disclosure of Material Connection: This post contains affiliate links