Monday, November 4, 2013

The First Steps toward Toilet Training: a review of the Prince Lionheart WeePOD Basix

Our sweet girl is 17-months-old. She loves to mimic the behavior that she sees, whether it is cooking, reading, rocking a baby doll, or sitting on the toilet. Rather than purchase a potty seat, my husband and I decided that it might be wise to train our daughter to use the toilet from the get-go. I searched online for a toilet seat that was small, gender-neutral, and easy to use.

I purchased the weePOD at Target. The only color available at the time was ash grey, so that is what I bought. The seat is a little bit squishy and flexible, but the surface is smooth and easy to wipe clean. It is lightweight and all one piece. There are suction cups on the bottom of the seat which help hold it in place on the toilet, so it doesn't slide when a child scoots around to get on or off the seat. I really appreciate the fact that the seat also stands up on its own. This makes storage of the toilet seat simple because it can stand right next to our toilet, ready to go. The hole is just the right size. The weePOD fits both round and elongated toilet seats.

My daughter can easily put the seat onto the toilet by herself. It is self-explanatory. Nobody is going to look at it and feel like it is too difficult to figure out. We haven't begun any serious toilet training, but my sweet girl asks to sit on the toilet quite frequently. Usually I take her diaper off, but in the pictures here, she kept her diaper on. We have been very impressed with the weePOD, and I have considered getting a second one in a pretty color (berry blue, perhaps) that we can take with to the babysitter's house or on the road when we travel.
The seat has no hard plastic parts, and it doesn't leave a ring indentation on her rear. It also has a guard on the front for little guys, but I can't vouch for the effectiveness of this feature, since I do not have a son. The reviews on, however,  are overwhelmingly positive. Our daughter has used the seat hundreds of times, and it still looks new. There is no sign of cracking or wear.

We have been very pleased with the weePOD and we highly recommend it!

We haven't started serious potty training yet, but I am looking for ideas. Do you have any tips or tricks to share? What has worked well for your children?

Thursday, October 17, 2013

"No!"...Parenting a young toddler

13-months (Written in June, 2013)

Recently, our sweet one-year-old picked up the word "no." She says it with attitude, and she says it often, usually right before she runs away from us. We don't use that word for reprimands in our house- we say "Nay nay" instead and save "no" and "no, thank-you" as answers to questions. However, we can't control what other people say and how they react when she says "No" to us. We are not sure exactly how she caught on to the word, but she definitely figured it out. In fact, she was a pro overnight. For the first week, we tried ignoring it, figuring that she would lose interest if she didn't get a reaction from us. Instead, she pushed her attitude more and more. I stopped wording things as questions. Instead of saying, "Is it time to change your diaper?" "Do you need a new diaper?" or "Do you want some lunch?" I tried to word things as statements that didn't give her the option to say, "No." It still didn't work flawlessly, but it was a little better. Using statements, it was clear that she was being disobedient rather than answering a question, when it was really non-negotiable. Here is a classic example:

"It's been a few hours, Chickadee. It's time for a diaper change!"
"No! No! No!" (very distinctly spoken before turning on her heel and running for the kitchen)

It had to be addressed another way. We began to confront the behavior directly. When she said "No" to us, we would take her aside, get down on her level and say very calmly and clearly, "Please don't say "no" to Mumma (or Daddy). "No" is the answer to a question. When Mumma asks you to do something, you need to obey." If she said it again, we would repeat the process, tapping her mouth with my finger gently for emphasis. I would then "help" her obey me, either by carrying her or leading her by the hand. It took nearly a week to break the worst of the "no habit". She still says it inappropriately occasionally, but she knows she is being naughty and usually she uses it appropriately as the answer to a question or as a "no, thank-you."
UPDATE: At 17-months, she is using "no" more appropriately, but she is learning more words that she can use as responses now. Sometimes she is a goof- she tickles me and then says, very seriously, "Don't touch!" when I begin to tickle her back. I am also noticing that when I ask her a question, she sometimes answers with a positive response now.

She has moved on to tantrums recently. My friends that are mothers say that we may be entering the "terrible twos" stage a little early. My daughter will sometimes react to disappointment with screams and crying, especially when she is hungry or tired. She will stomp her feet and the tears run down her sad little cheeks like nothing I have seen before. However, she has complete control over the tantrum. If she gets what she wants, or thinks she is getting what she wants, she can turn the tears and sadness off like a faucet, though she may gasp for a few moments.

To handle the tantrums, we are finding that completely ignoring them works sometimes (especially at home). Distraction also works very well. For example, if I told her that she has had enough raisins, and she wants more and throws a tantrum, I won't give in with more raisins, but I might silently get out a puzzle on the rug across the room, and pique her interest. In public, I usually say, "Crying isn't going to work, Honey. This isn't how we behave." Then, I remove her from the situation, if possible. She loves to help me do things, so I often try to include her in the tasks I am doing.

What do you suggest for handling tantrums?

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Our Decision to Downsize and Simplify

     It has been a few months since I have written a new post. There has been a lot going on in our lives, to say the least. I thought that I was done working and would be staying home with our daughter, but instead, I have taken on more work. We have moved into a tiny apartment and made some important decisions about our future.

For the last couple of years, my husband and I have been feeling convicted about having so much stuff that we don't really need. We have been pouring so much money into rent, debt reduction, and everyday life that we haven't been able to put much into our savings for a house someday. We weren't spending money frivolously. We have been budgeting vigilantly but expenses keep popping up and we just can't get ahead. It's a vicious cycle. We had been praying for a way to break the cycle and be free from debt. A smaller place is cheaper to rent, which would free up some of our money, but we currently have too much stuff to fit into most tiny apartments. Therefore, we have begun to downsize.

 Most of our stuff, we really don't need. It is a process to decide which stuff we do need and which stuff we are really attached to, and which stuff is just...stuff. We are finding that we have an embarrassing amount of stuff that we don't need, love, or even really care about. Why have we been keeping it? I am finding that since we need to downsize significantly to fit comfortable in a tiny place, it is easier to pick out the things that I need and the things that I am really attached to rather than picking out the things I want to get rid of. For example, when I am looking at my bookshelf, I don't want to get rid of any of them because they are all good books. However, when I look at my bookshelf and pick out the books I "need" and the books I am really attached to, I find that I do, in fact, have books that I am willing to pass on to other people. Another example might be towels. How many bathroom towels do we really need? Even if we have lots of guests, and we have bath towels, hand towels, and beach towels, how many do we really need?

Our culture has fed us a lot of lies:
     Having more stuff, or newer stuff, will make you happier. Stuff isn't what makes us happy. Have you seen "Pollyanna"? I want to be storing up my treasure in Heaven, not here. My daughter is just as happy playing with rocks and sticks as she is playing with her "special toys." As a parent, I want to provide safe and good-quality toys and clothes for my child(ren), but really, she doesn't need much. As a child, I really enjoyed a large cardboard box to play in. Downsizing will mean that we have to be very selective about our stuff, and our daughter's stuff. I would rather have a few nice things than a house full of junk anyway. How many 9x13 pans do I need? How many Christmas decorations do we want to keep?
     If you go to college and get good grades, you will never suffer from financial difficulties. Until my husband and I discovered a method for budgeting that really worked for us, we didn't know where our money was going, but it always disappeared too fast. Also, just because you get a certain degree from a college doesn't mean that you are going to get a job using that specific degree. I am still trying to pay off college debt, and by sticking to a budget, we are able to make sure we are putting money where it needs to go. I am a teacher, but I don't work full-time because our school district can't afford it.
    Get it now. Pay for it later. Put it on a credit card or take out a loan. Paying for things you already have is totally anti-climactic after two years of payments and interest, let alone 15. It is very easy to compile an overwhelming debt, thanks to credit cards and bank loans. I am not saying that all loans are bad, but I find satisfaction in paying for items up front with money we have earned. Think about it. As a kid, if you were going to rake leaves in exchange for an ice cream cone, which is more satisfying, to get the ice cream cone first and then go outside to rake leaves in payment, or to rake the leaves and then have the ice cream you have earned? I would rather be raking and thinking about that ice cream I am hoping to have, because otherwise I am not going to be thinking about how delicious that ice cream was, I am going to be thinking, "How much do I actually need to rake in order to pay for that ice cream?"

The process of downsizing isn't fun, but it is freeing. I am finding satisfaction with every item we sell or give away. I am going to learn to live more simply. Every item that we purchase from now on will be carefully planned or absolutely necessary. The impulse purchases have to stop if we are going to save money and downsize. It is definitely a process and requires will-power and perseverance, but we will get there!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Talking and reading to your baby

I am sorry to say that I lost my camera almost a month ago, so the pictures in this post are old. I was reluctant to post until I found my camera, but I have since decided to purchase another camera and continue blogging without it until it arrives. When I was pregnant, I read in several of my books that it was important that I talk to the baby. I tried, I really did, but it felt weird to talk to my belly besides saying things like, "Ouch, please stop kicking my rib!" or "I can't wait until you get here, so you use this quilt I made you." I felt like I ran out of things to say. I didn't really read children's stories to my fetal infant and spent many of my hours at home alone in complete silence or talking on the phone, but I know lots of people who have done such things, and more power to them. I just couldn't. I tried to read my own books out loud, but I just felt silly and would become a silent reader after a few minutes.

When the baby was born, I found that talking to her was a little easier, but I would still run out of things to say after a few minutes. If this has also been a problem for you, my advice would be to keep talking anyway. I watched my mother talk to her. She didn't seem to have any trouble finding things to say. "Do you see the kitty? The kitty sees a ladybug up on the window. Oh! She is going to try to get it. What a smart and silly kitty! Oh, someone in a red truck drove by." I watched her and I learned to generate one-sided conversation about observations I was forcing myself to make. I talked to her, around her, and to myself at times. I talked on the phone and I spoke to her as if she were an adult, with adult vocabulary. My mother has a theory that if a young child can understand, say, and use the word "refrigerator" properly, then they should be able to understand, say, and use other large words. "Daddy should be home around 6, weather permitting. We have a 30% chance of precipitation tonight, so it could get messy. What do you feel like making for supper?" I read to my daughter often, but board books are boring and she didn't seem to always care about books, so it definitely wasn't everyday.

By the time my daughter was 6-months-old, speaking to her was as easy as talking to anyone else, and even if she didn't respond fully yet, I could tell that she was understanding quite a bit. Within a few months, she started to actually respond with words. Books and conversation became more and more fun, so we read and talked more frequently. Reading to a baby or toddler should involve more than reading the words. If there are a lot of words, sometimes I will sum up the page rather than read each word. I would rather "read" a shorter version all the way to the end than have her try to stop the book after the first boring page. After we read the words, we talk about it a little bit. It is different every time we read the book, to keep it interesting and keep her thinking. Here are some examples of how we would talk about a page. "Do you see the dog? Where is he, can you show me?" Another time I might say, "Uh oh. What's going to happen?" or "That wasn't very nice, was it?" "Where is his eye? Can you find it?" I let her turn the pages, but I often put my finger behind the next page to help it get started, so we don't skip pages. Board books have the hardest pages to turn, which I find ridiculous - why don't they round the edge of each page so a baby can turn the pages more easily?

Now, at 14 months, she is starting to form her own sentences and it is so exciting! Today we were out in back of our house, picking blueberries near our yard and our sweet baby was playing on the grass nearby, occasionally visiting me for handfuls of blueberries, with a polite "peeez" (please). Eventually she came to the edge of the grass and fussed. I said, "I don't know what you need when you fuss like that. I need you to use real words, please. What do you need, honey?" She came closer, tugged on my jeans, and said "Mumma, all done." I asked if she wanted more blueberries and she replied, "No no. (no, thank you) Mumma all done." I stood up and she clapped, running toward the house and eventually the driveway. She was excited to play with rocks. I was so excited about her communication that I stopped picking berries and called my grammie to tell her. Often she decides to look at books on her own, with books all around her on the floor, or she asks me to read. She will point to things as we talk about the pages, and she will repeat some of it after I say it. She turns the pages when we are ready, and usually I don't have to tell her when it is time for the next page because she can tell. She knows which way to turn the pages and how we treat books gently. After we finish reading a book, she often wants to either read it again from the beginning, or turn to her favorite pages again just to look at them. Sometimes she pretends to read the books to her baby doll.

Babies grow and develop at different rates, and it definitely isn't all environmental, but talking and reading to your baby can only help. As an educator, I have been told time and time again that kids who are read to at home have a distinct educational advantage over kids who are not read to at home. I want to read every night and several times throughout the day. I want to talk to her and listen to her. I want her to know that I respect and love her, and value her opinions, feelings and ideas. I try very hard to be polite and understanding, while still being the adult in charge and making a million decisions each day. I try to say "yes" when it is okay, even though a "no, not right now" is often easier. Can she have a cheese stick right now? Okay, fine, I guess now is okay. Do I really need to supervise going up the stairs right now? Yes, there is no reason why she can't practice stairs now. If it is not okay, I will follow up the "no" with an explanation most of the time. I am also trying to teach patience, so many times I will say, "Supper isn't ready quite yet, but we will eat in a few minutes." or "Yes, we can go outside, but I need to use the bathroom first and you need boots, and then we will go outside. Can you find your boots?" I am learning as I go. If you are like me and didn't read to your fetal infant or talk to your newborn enough, start now. It isn't too late to change habits. Put reading into your nighttime routine. Talk about what you are doing and where you are going. We also pray with and around our daughter throughout the day. I can't believe how quickly my daughter is learning, she is soaking up the world around her like a sponge. I want to surround her with things worth soaking up.

Any thoughts?

Friday, June 28, 2013

Traveling (on an airplane) with our one-year-old

I am realizing that it has been a while since my last post. Life just gets crazy sometimes. As a teacher, finishing off the school year is always a sprint to the finish, and this year I also had to pack up my entire classroom because I am getting new tile installed. Then, literally the next day, my family and I headed to Minnesota for a much-needed vacation to visit family and friends. In the past, my husband and I have driven from Maine to Minnesota and back, but this time we decided to fly. Our daughter is 13-months-old and our flight was scheduled to leave Boston at 9pm.

I was not sure what to expect from our sweet baby girl. The plane would be boarding at bedtime and leaving an hour after bedtime. I didn't know if she would sleep the entire way or scream the entire way. Honestly, she is more unpredictable these days. We have flown with her once before, when she was 9-weeks-old, and she was wonderful both ways. Now she has an opinion about things.

We had to pack very lightly for this trip because the airline charged an arm and a leg for bags, even carry-ons. My husband's parents have a crib and car seat and were able to borrow a pack 'n play and high chair, so in terms of gear, I just brought our Boba baby carrier and our daughter's down comforter from her bed.

For our daughter, I brought:
  • 12 all-in-one cloth diapers for daytime. (5 BumGenius Elementals and 7 Grovias)
  • 2 night diapers (2 Thirsties duo diapers with 2 extra inserts and 2 Disana wool covers)
  • 1 pack of disposable wipes
  • 1 roll of Bummis flushable liners
  • 1 stick of rash cream (Grovia magic stick) just in case
  • 8 disposable diapers
  • a small baby doll and doll bottle
  • 1 book
  • 1 thin stretchy blanket (for nursing and naps)
  • 2 pacifiers, one with a strap and one free
  • a container of cheerios
  • a container of Annie's Cheddar Bunnies
  • 3 fruit leather strips
  • organic fruit gummies
  • her toothbrush from home
  • 1 portable DVD player and charger (and a sleeve with 4 kid DVDs that adults can also enjoy)
  • minimal clothing - 3 PJs, 1 pair shorts, 4 t-shirts, 1 skirt, 2 onesies, 1 pair jeans, 1 pair comfy pants, 3 dresses, 3 pairs socks, 2 pairs shoes, 1 pair tights, 1 bathing suit, 1 swim diaper, 1 thin sweater, 1 thin fleece, 1 bib, and 1 sun hat

I packed all of her diapers and diapering items into the diaper bag, along with a pair of PJs, all of the snacks, her baby doll and bottle, our camera and my water bottle. My husband and I brought enough clothes to last three days, figuring we'd wash clothes a few times during our trip. We brought minimal gear, like a breast pump and beard trimmer, but not shampoo or toothpaste that we could just buy there. Last time we flew, we cloth diapered the entire way there and back just as usual, but this time I decided to use a few disposables so that I wouldn't have to carry a heavy wetbag full of an entire day's wet diapers.

The drive to Boston is about 5-6 hours, depending on weather, pit stops, and traffic. We are blessed to have some good friends in the Boston area that were able to keep our car in their garage during our trip and transport us to and from the airport. We arrived at the airport at around 7pm. Lines were very minimal and we were able to move through airport security without the pressure of a long line behind us. My husband and I packed together in one suitcase and I had brought my pocketbook and the diaper bag. Our daughter cried hard when we had to put her baby in the bin to send it through the scanner and she didn't stop crying until she saw the doll come through the other side. I don't know why I didn't think of that before. I should have been more stealthy putting the doll in the bin. After security, we packed back up and put on our shoes, and even though I had the baby carrier with me, I put our daughter down and let her walk.
 She walks like a champ, but those tiny legs mean that the going is quite slow. My thought was that if I wanted her to sit still and sleep on the plane, she needed to expend some energy in the airport, especially after nearly 6 hours of sitting in the car! We held her hand until we found our gate, and then let her run free (one of us stayed right with her, of course). I cringed when she put her mouth on the edge of one of the seats, and I wasn't happy that she pushed her face right up against that nasty window, but it was worth it to have her moving around and so happy. She greeted everyone with an enthusiastic "Hi!" and waved and blew kisses. It was pretty cute. We got on the plan at 8:00. I had a window seat and my husband had the aisle. There was one seat between us, and that seat between us was unoccupied, so our daughter was able to move back and forth between us, which was very handy.

As soon as we were on the plane, I changed her diaper and put her PJs on. Like I said before, we used disposables while en route. After running around in the airport for nearly an hour, nursing during take-off was a great transition to bedtime. I wrapped her in her down comforter from home and held her close. They turned off the cabin lights for take-off and I was hoping she'd fall right to sleep, but she had other plans. For the next couple of hours, she ate her snacks (we gave her one piece at a time, not the whole container) and played with her baby, her blanket and her book. She moved constantly back and forth between my husband and me. Entertaining her was work. We tried the DVD player, but it was dead. She got pretty cranky (not crying really, but expressing her tiredness) right before we began the descent into Minneapolis. My husband carried her up and down the aisle a few times, and then she asked to nurse, so I tried again and she finally fell asleep. Once we landed, I transitioned our sweet girl into the Boba carrier, still sleeping, which made carrying our bags much easier.

Once we arrived at my in-laws house, our sweet girl woke up and was wide awake! She could not be convinced that sleeping was a good idea, and eventually we decided to bring her in bed with us for the night, and we all slept pretty well. For the rest of our stay in Minnesota, we used cloth diapers, washing every other day. We washed clothes three times during our stay. During the trip, our daughter reverted back to nursing more that usual and ate less "real food" but now that we are home, she is eating more again.

Our sweet baby girl became very fond of her grandparents almost immediately, which was great! We had a wonderful time with grandparents, parents, siblings, friends and family! We went out on the lake in a boat, we went to the zoo, attended a Twins game in the new stadium and hung out. It was a laid-back trip and one of the best we have had so far. I love my husband's family and get to know them more and more each time we are together.

The flight back was supposed to leave Minneapolis at 11:35 but was delayed a little over two hours. Again, we encouraged her to walk around and play in the airport, and she made lots of new friends. Usually our sweet baby girl takes a nap sometime between 10 and 11am. She ended up sleeping in my arms at the airport as we waited for the plane to come in. She woke up just before getting on the plane. She was very happy and friendly on the flight. The plane stopped in Chicago to refuel, so we had to deplane and wait for a while there before continuing to Boston. She was very pleasant again on the second stretch of the flight and eventually fell asleep again. We arrived in Boston a little after 7pm and then still had to drive home! Our daughter was so excited to be in her own car seat again, and she fell asleep pretty quickly. We woke her up to change her and eat supper on the way, but she fell asleep again as soon as we got back on the road. My husband and I talked the entire way home, and had great conversation. We got home around 2am, absolutely exhausted. Our daughter nursed one more time and happily went to sleep in her own bed without complaint.

I am so thankful that we were able to go to Minnesota and we all had a wonderful time. Cloth diapering there is just like cloth diapering here, and we found that we really liked using the flushable liners, so I will write a whole post about those later. As much fun as it was, it is good to be home again too!

Do you have anything special that you do to make traveling with an infant or toddler easier?
Please share your tips and tricks! I'd love to have some new ideas!!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Got it covered: Review of the Tommee Tippee Explora Bib

When our daughter was a little baby and entirely breastfed, I always brought some absorbent bibs with me in the diaper bag because so much milk would drip out of the side of her mouth while she was nursing that she would drench a burp cloth at home with each feeding. The bibs were absorbent enough to use a few times since they would dry some between uses if I didn't pack them back into the bag, and I would wash them as soon as I got home. The system wasn't perfect, but it was better than using 3 or 4 bulky burp cloths for my messy eater.

Tommee Tippee Explora Bib
Our daughter didn't drool much unless she was teething, so she didn't wear bibs incessantly like some babies do. When we started feeding her other foods, I knit her a few bibs using garter stitch, based on the pattern, "Baby Bib O' Love" in Mason-Dixon Knitting. The bibs are absorbent but don't catch big chunks that fall between my daughter and the table. Also, they generally required washing after each use. I also had some terry bibs with plastic backing and a Velcro closure. Our daughter would become preoccupied playing with her crinkly bib rather than eating, and again, there was no crumb-catcher. I started looking for other options on

That's when I stumbled across the Tommee Tippee Explora Bib. These bibs are made from a rubbery material (BPA free), have a pocket for catching crumbs, are easy to wash, and have button closures rather than Velcro. The pocket actually stays open (unlike similar cloth ones) and catches many crumbs and spills. I found them at Target in a 2-pack for under $10. The ones in the pictures on amazon are slightly different from ours. Ours have only three button slots and they don't have a cut-out in the front of the neckline. Honestly, I wish there was a smaller setting because these are still a bit big in the neck area and sometimes a glob of yogurt will make it down the neck of the bib on the inside. Right now I can layer an Explora bib over an absorbent bib and the combination is perfect, but most of the time I don't bother. I am really glad that I found these, and I really like them. I can roll them up and put them in the diaper bag. After a meal, I can rinse the bib and throw it right in the dish drainer, ready to use again. Red tomato sauce did stain one of our bibs, but it wasn't washed immediately, which may have made a difference. It definitely doesn't change the function of the bib at all. Some of the common complaints in online reviews have to do with hair getting caught in the button closure. This hasn't been an issue for us yet.

As you can see in this picture, our daughter will eat out of the pocket. She has filled it with cheerios and will walk around with her snack. I highly recommend the Tommee Tippee Explora Bib. I think that they are a great size, they come in pretty colors, and most importantly, they are very functional. Next time I am at Target, I think I'll pick up the other two colors if they have them in stock. I like them that much, and our daughter does too!

It is important to note that we bought these bibs ourselves and I received no
compensation or products in exchange for this review. I am no affiliated with
Tommee Tippee in any way. My opinions are my own!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Living in Moose Country

I almost hit a moose tonight. This isn't the first time I have had a close call with moose, and it likely won't be the last, but it still got my blood pumping. We see moose quite often, especially at dawn and dusk or later in the night. When the first salt of the year is put on the road, the moose come to lick it and you will see them on their knees in the road, nose to the ground. Tonight was a dark night, and rainy. The pictures in this post are from last summer, not tonight.

We joke that the moose is generally the thing you don't see, but it really is true in many cases. The eyes often don't reflect light, and their coats are so dark that they just don't show up. If you look ahead in the road and there is a place where the road seems to disappear a bit, that could be a moose. If you get lucky, you see a flash of their slightly lighter brown inner legs or a glint of an eye before you are forced to take action. Baby moose are a much lighter brown.

The cow moose in the road tonight had a very young calf with her. As I rounded a corner and came over a little rise, there she was, in my lane. I had to slam on the brakes and come to a complete stop because I saw that her calf was right behind her in the other lane, so veering over there wouldn't help matters. Many times, moose will start running in whatever direction they are facing when they get spooked. The moose in the ditch might run right into the road if it is facing the road when it feels threatened. This particular mama stood her ground rather than leaving her wobbly calf behind. I successfully came to a complete stop, despite the short notice, 55mph I was driving, and rainy conditions. My heart jumped into my throat. As I slammed on the brake, my right arm flew over to the passenger seat and caught the bag of groceries before it could fly forward and crash into the dash. I probably shouldn't have had it there anyway, but hindsight is 20/20.
My heart raced and my breath caused the windshield to fog up a bit. I think the adrenaline hit me so hard because I had the baby with me in the car. She is still rear-facing in a very safe car seat and will be for as long as I can keep her that way, but I still worry about her. The sudden stop woke her, but she didn't cry. I heard her kiss her baby doll noisily and then say, "Mama?"
I answered, "We're almost home, baby girl. Don't worry. We have to wait for a baby moose to cross the road." My legs started feeling a little numb and tingly as my heart continued to pound like a bass drum.

My voice was deceptively calm. I didn't want my sweet girl to worry. As I watched the mama patiently walk as her baby wobbled across the road I realized that this is the first calf of the year that I have seen. When you have to drive 1 1/2 to 2 hours to get to Walmart or a "real" grocery store, you can easily get into the rhythm of driving and become comfortable, but all it takes is one moose sighting or close call to snap you out of it and realize that you can't ever let your guard down around here. When you get as close as I did tonight, you realize just how BIG they are. A car can easily break a moose's legs and bring its heavy body crashing through the windshield. People die in moose crashes all the time. By the grace of God, we stopped in time. Tonight as I kissed my baby goodnight, I said an extra thanks to God for protecting us. We live in moose country, and we aren't invincible.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Our Umbrella Stroller: Review of the Chicco Capri

1-year-old baby
There are times when a jogging stroller is just too big and too heavy. Umbrella strollers fold up small and light. Generally you sacrifice some features and sturdiness, but the convenience of portability is worth it in certain circumstances. Our Chicco Capri was a generous gift from my husband's parents. It showed up in the mail when I was recovering from my C-section and too uncomfortable to carry my daughter very far or very upright. I hadn't bought my jogger yet, so the umbrella stroller was our only stroller and got daily use. For an umbrella stroller, it has a lot of great features with only a few drawbacks. Just to be clear, this stroller does not recline far enough for newborns or most babies under 6-months of age. Our daughter just happened to be unusually sturdy when she was born.


The canopy can be removed or placed higher or lower on the stroller frame
Most umbrella strollers either lack sunshades completely or have terrible coverage. The Chicco Capri has a sunshade that is better than most, but I would prefer it to be larger, since we are so fair. When our sweet baby girl was young, we would drape a blanket over the front of the sunshade for a bit more coverage, but that situation is less than ideal. Fortunately, the sunshade can be placed almost anywhere in terms of height, thanks to the clips that hold the canopy on. At its normal position, there are two snaps on the back flap of the canopy that can attach to the top of the seat. This actually allows the sunshade to be pushed forward a little bit further than in other positions, which can be handy. If you move the sunshade higher, there are Velcro strips that anchor the sunshade to the frame of the stroller. You can also move the sunshade quite a bit lower by placing the clips low on the sides. Honestly, you can manipulate the sunshade to work in most circumstances. There is no peek-a-boo window, but that isn't a deal-breaker for me.

The snaps that can attach the canopy to the seat back
Canopy in low position
the snaps to allow the canopy to lean forward without falling
canopy attached high on the frame, using velcro strips

The stroller weighs in at 11 pounds, which is light. The comes with a bag that has a zipper and
d-rings for strap
Locks itself when folded. Release to unfold stroller.
adjustable strap. The strap can also be attached to the stroller itself instead of the bag. When folded, the stroller locks itself with a latch on the side. To open the stroller, pull the lock and unfold the stroller. There is a bar across the back that you need to push down completely to make sure the stroller stays open. You won't be able to fold the stroller until you pull out on the red part of the bar to unhook it and bend the hinges on the sides of the canopy.
Push bar down to keep stroller open. Pull red tab to fold.
The stroller has a 5-point harness with shoulder pads. The upper two straps can be unclipped from the lower 3-point harness. The strap padding can easily be removed. There is a padded piece of material that covers the crotch strap and pads the buckles. You can push it aside to open the clips, or you can undo the Velcro and pull the piece forward to reveal the buckles. The buckles are easy for an adult, but hard for a child, which is good because a child won't be able to release herself mid-ride without the parent knowing.  The crotch strap is not adjustable, and at 1-year-old, my daughter is already sitting on it because it is so close to the back of the seat. This could potentially be an issue later, but right now it still works fine. The upper four straps of the harness are all adjustable.

There is a storage basket under the seat, which is handy, since many umbrella strollers don't have any storage. The basket is mesh and can be completely removed by simply undoing the four Velcro straps that attach it to the stroller. This basket can't hold much weight, but it did hold some groceries, including a 5-lb bag of flour (which is more than it is supposed to hold). The access to the basket isn't ideal, and you probably wouldn't be able to get a diaper bag in there because of the crisscrossing frame across the back.

There are two foot brakes on the back wheels. I have accidently stepped on them when my stride is too long, which brings me to the one big drawback that I see in this stroller- it is not made for tall people. I kick the wheels if I use my regular stride. I have to take unnaturally short steps, put one foot directly in front of the other, or waddle to avoid the wheels. This is just annoying. I think it is a combination of the angle of the handles, how low the handles are and how close the back wheels are to each other. The front wheels can be locked forward or they can swivel. To lock the wheels, simply push up on the grey piece when the wheels are facing forward. The wheels are not air-filled, but there is all-wheel suspension which softens the ride, even on gravel. Honestly, umbrella strollers aren't meant to be all-terrain strollers, but this one does pretty well.

front wheels can be locked for rough terrain
rear brakes
The "multi-position reclining seat" doesn't recline all that far. Basically, if you unzip both zippers on the sides of the seat, that is as far as it goes. So yes, there are two positions, but they are very similar. Most umbrella strollers don't recline at all, so again, I am not complaining!! The stroller will hold up to 37 pounds. There is a flexible plastic foot rest that is not adjustable, but our daughter is not big enough to reach it.
sitting up, fully zipped

reclined, unzipped

All in all, this is a great stroller. If you need something small and light, this fits the bill and has lots of great features. If you are tall, you won't want this to be your primary stroller, but it works great for short trips or places like the mall where a small stroller is necessary and short strides won't be as frustrating. It fits well in the trunk or back seat of the car, and again, weighs only 11lbs. My daughter weighed more than that when she was born. This typically sells for $79.99 on and is available in a variety of colors. I have yet to find an umbrella stroller comparable in price and features!

Do you have an umbrella stroller you love? Tell us about it!
It is important to note that I did not receive any products or compensation for this review
and I am in no way affiliated with the Chicco company. My opinions are my own!