Stroller Insanity

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Lately I’ve been kind of obsessed about strollers. As the twins are now 3 months old, and I HATE the double Snap-n-Go that we currently use, I’m ready to get a nice double stroller. I feel so insane scouring the internet for stroller reviews and watching YouTube comparisons for hours. It’s not a small purchase, but if I could just make a decision already I’d be able to spend more time playing with my kids or sleeping!

With our first I bought a travel system. I looked for a 3 wheeled one (called a jogger, I now know), because I think I once saw one at the mall and was intrigued that it looked different from the traditional 4-wheeled ones. I must have been more frugal then, because I looked for the cheapest one I could find and didn’t consider the others at all. I don’t think I even test drove any at the store. We ended up with a Baby Trend Expedition, which cost all of $199, including the carseat! But I soon learned that it was pretty bulky and heavy. Recovering from a c-section in the first few weeks, I opted to use the Bjorn when going out with baby. It didn’t get much use as a travel system either, since I ditched the carseat at 6 months, but it’s still a pretty good stroller. Nice big wheels, very comfortable to push and sit in.

When baby was about a year old, we decided it was time for a family trip somewhere out of town. We picked a place not too far, San Diego, and planned some kid-friendly activities like going to the zoo. Suddenly, I realized that our stroller wouldn’t work. It would fit in my car, but with a pack-n-play and all our luggage for the trip, that was a lot to move around. Plus what if we took a tram at the zoo, or used any other sort of public transportation? So, at the last minute, the night before we planned on leaving, I searched Craigslist for another stroller. I happened to find a Maclaren Quest that was a couple years old, made the deal for $100 early in the morning, and picked it up as we were leaving town. I didn’t even know how to open/close it, so we just figured it out as we used it. I think it weighs something like 12 lbs. I liked it so much that after the trip I considered buying myself a new one, but at $100 and in good condition, there really wasn’t any need. It’s serviced us well.

Both those strollers are now collecting dust in the garage. Toddler doesn’t need to be pushed in a stroller anymore as she likes to run around, and though we think of “jogging” in our jogger now and then, laziness always overtakes us.

It’s time for a new stroller. This time a double. This time more pricey. This time more well-researched. This time, weighing somewhere between the last two. Loving our Maclaren, I was all set on getting the twin version. It’s been sitting in my Amazon cart for months. Grandpa has already given us money to pay for it. But the more I thought about it, the more I read about strollers, the more I was doubting my choice. I’ve come to the conclusion that a double just doesn’t work as an umbrella stroller. Too much to fold up and bulky anyway. Plus it weighs almost 24 lbs, which puts it in the range of non-umbrella doubles.

So, I’ve been looking into other types of double strollers. Turns out there are sooooo many! Tandems, side-by-sides, stacked, re-positionable, carseat adaptable, forever-air tires, one-hand fold, independent recline… one can get sucked into the madness that is stroller comparison. The problem is, since twins are not as prevalent as singles, double strollers are not usually out on sales floors, and for the same reason, you wouldn’t have a “friend’s” to see/test. And the reviews are never-ending, sometimes contradictory, and always refer to yet another previously unresearched stroller for comparison. UGH!

I am leaning towards the Baby Jogger City Mini Double. At under 30″ wide and less than 27 lbs, it’s not too big to stroll around nor too heavy to discourage use.

So the shopping begins. Currently the newest model is the 2012 version. It retails for $450 and I haven’t seen it on sale for much less. The 2011 model is being clearanced, and I have found an orange one for $300. What a steal, right? But I can’t decide if I want to the better seat padding, easier access to the underbasket, and the auto close clip in the newer version. Plus buying the older version would be like buying last year’s car model. A little anti-climatic. Still haven’t decided…

What are you all pushing around?

lunchldyd is mom to a toddler girl and 3 month old b/g twins. She is also a high school teacher. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, 3 children under 3, and two neglected dogs who would probably enjoy a walk outside with a new stroller.

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Parenting Petite Kids

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I’m short. People use all sorts of nice euphemisms: petite, vertically challenged, little. At 5’0″ (152 cm), my legs are just long enough to reach the floor when I’m standing. I have to perch on the front edge of your average chair to rest my feet on the ground. If I sit back, my legs swing in a very unprofessional way. I often find myself tucking one or both legs under me at work. As my daughters put it, I’m “a very small mommy.”

My 6-year-olds are very small girls themselves. Their first-grade classmates revel in picking them up and twirling them around. They don’t seem to mind much, instead enjoying being the “cute little ones” of their classes. M just made it out of the 1st percentile on the growth chart, weighing in at 38 lbs (17.2 kg) at age 6 years, 9 months. That’s 3rd percentile, people! She’s a giant! J’s 41 lbs (18.6 kg) puts her in the 10th percentile. She’s come a long way since her 3 lbs 6 oz (1.5 kg) birth weight.

My daughters’ current small stature likely has very little to do with their prematurity. Birth at 33 weeks gestation explains the girls’ low birth weight, but most premature infants catch up with their birth age peers in height and weight by the age of 1 or 2. If you think about it, it makes sense. My girls are 2 months “younger,” measured from conception, than other kids born in May 2006. When they were -2 months old, it was a big deal. At 4 months old, it was still a pretty big deal. At 6 months, J weighed 12 lbs 12 oz, and M weighed 11 lbs 12 oz, and they were on track. At the age 6 years, 2 months doesn’t make all that much of a difference. You can just blame me for their lack of stature.

I suspect it’s much easier to be a short girl than to be a short boy, but society’s gender attitudes is a topic I won’t touch just now. I’ll just say that I don’t perceive myself or my daughters to have any hang-ups about being short.

Being especially small comes with challenges all its own. The world is built for average-sized people, so we make adjustments. We have stools in every room of the house so that we can reach the things we need. I learned what products could be tweaked to accommodate the realities of raising short babies, toddlers, and young children.

Car seats

It takes a lot of blankets to secure a baby of less than 5 lbs in a carseat. from hdydi.comThe first time I dealt with the unique experience of having a super-small child was coming home from the hospital. Our Graco Snugride infant seat was technically okay for a 5-pounder, but how were we to keep the babies from rolling around? The size of the infant head support it came with was laughable in comparison to my littles. The NICU nurses came to the rescue, once again. They showed me how to roll up receiving blankets and layer them around the baby to keep her in place on her first hundred or so car rides.

In the US, we’re taught that children should ride in rear-facing car seats until they are both at least 1 year old and weigh 20 lbs, and recent recommendations encourage waiting until they’re 2 years old. As I understand it, the weight limit is a matter of having enough mass to resist being thrown in the air in the event of a crash. The age limit has something to do with the length of the spinal cord in comparison to the spine. As my pediatrician put it when I raised a concern about the girls’ legs eventually getting cramped, “Better broken legs than a broken neck.” My girls were well past age 2 before we turned their Britax Marathons forward-facing.

Now that they’re 6, J and M continue to wear 5-point harnesses in their Diono (formerly Sunshine Kids) Radians. Their classmates are all in booster seats, but M doesn’t meet the 40-lb weight minimum, and I’m in no hurry to reduce the girls’ level of containment in the car. Again, it doesn’t seem to bother them too much, although I occasionally get nasty looks at how long we spend getting the girls situated getting in and out of the car at the school pickup drive through. They can buckle and unbuckle themselves, but two buckles each necessarily take longer than one a piece.

Shoes

M and J started walking at 12 and 11 months, respectively. They both wore infant size 2 shoes at the time. There are very few walking shoes that come in a size 2. I certainly couldn’t find any. I ended up resorting to custom shoes ordered from Preschoolians in their “Walkers” line. They weren’t cheap, but they did allow us to go to the park without fear of stones and splinters in the girls’ feet. It wasn’t long before J and M were walking into daycare in the morning instead of me carrying them.

M tends to end up in light up shoes even at age 6; it’s hard to find sturdy, comfortable, school-appropriate shoes in a kid size 9.5. J’s a size bigger, and there are many more options open to her.

Clothes

Clothes weren’t quite the same challenge as shoes. Preemie clothes were gargantuan on the girls the first few months, but once they fit newborn sizes, it was easy–and so much fun–to shop for them.

J and M will be 7 in a few months. I just gave away the last of their size 4T clothes on Freecycle, because they’re fitting comfortably in 5Ts in most brands. When it comes to clothes that can fit loosely, such as sweatshirts and T-shirts, I can shop all the way to an XXS. The nice thing about being little is that M and J get a lot of hand-me-downs, and some hand-me-ups, from friends.

The girls have been wearing the same 4-6 sized tights for 3 winters in a row now, and they’re starting to fall apart. I’m not complaining. I remember how expensive it used to be to dress two kids when they were growing into new sizes every 3-5 months.

J and M’s first public school in El Paso had a uniform. We had trouble finding uniform shirts to fit them, so they just ended up wearing their XXS shirts baggy. I couldn’t get khaki bottoms that wouldn’t fall down at the store recommended by the school, but ended up finding good options online at French Toast.

Shopping carts/high chairs

For a long time, I’d go to the grocery store with one baby in a front carrier and the other in an infant seat placed in the cart. However, even though this continued to be practical weight-wise, by the time the girls were one, they wanted to sit in the cart and look around. The first time I tried, they flopped all over the place, and I gave up. M and J regaled nearby shoppers with wails and demands to “Sit cart! Sit cart!” as I pulled out the double stroller to try Plan B.

Ikea came to the rescue. They had an inflatable cushion that I could place around the girls to keep them propped up and contained. Unfortunately, they no longer sell it in the US. It was genius! I also used this cushion in restaurant high chairs to great effect.

How do your kids compare to others in size? Do you have any product recommendations to help kids on the smaller end of the size spectrum?

Sadia is the single mother of 6-year-old identical twins, M and J. They live in the Austin, TX area, where Sadia works in higher education information technology.

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Foodie Friday: Foodie find of the week!

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One of the moms at HDYDI mentioned discovering nummy nums. Hmm. Nummy nums? This was not a product I’d heard of before, but she raved about them, so off I went to my trusty friend the internet to do some research. And, this is what I discovered!

A mom, in search of yummy, fresh baby food, created her own line of babyfood with six scrumptious flavors. Seriously, I want to eat this food! There is strawberry banana puree, sweet peas with potatoes and leek, roasted sweet potato puree, orzo pasta with bolognese sauce, broccoli, white cheddar & quinoa pilaf & mango vanilla puree. It helps that she was an instructor at a culinary school at the time—and explains why my homemade babyfood doesn’t turn out quite like this!

The babyfood is made fresh, then frozen in cubes (much like homemade babyfood) and can be thawed cube by cube as you need it. It’s not cheap, but certainly looks delicious! Check it out yourself at:

http://www.nummynums.com/

Has anyone else tried these? Comments to share with the rest of us? I’m a bit sad my guys are past the babyfood stage….they would be intrigued by these, but are much more into food they can eat with their little fingers. Pasta. Cheese cubes. Olives. Pears. Bananas.

Have a food tip for HDYDI moms? Write it in the comments

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