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Never-Ending Winter and a Follow-Up Review of the Buckle Me Baby Coat

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I think this has been a rough winter for most states. I know I should feel grateful for getting a million inches of rain here in the South vs a million inches of snow everywhere else but man, my mud is even getting tired of itself. Just when we have a nice 70-degree day, it drops to 30 and we get freezing rain. It’s gray, it’s gloomy, it’s gross, and I’m just done. I’m also sick of the constant piles of jackets strewn about. One of our most used is the beloved red jacket from Buckle Me Baby Coats. Dahlia with BMBC (Buckle Me Baby Coats) reached out to me earlier to see how we were doing with our coat. We love it! In case you missed it, I did a full review on our BMB Coat here. In a nutshell, it’s a nifty car seat safe coat that closes OVER the harness of your car seat instead of under them.

Declan is now 5 years old and about 43 inches and 35 lbs and our jacket still fits! He no longer has any growing room but hey, we got two seasons out of it! As you can see below, he’s still rocking it. He’s currently riding in a harnessed seat, but I took a picture of him in my 8-year old’s booster to show how this type of jacket will continue to grow with him as he moves up in stages of safety seats.

This is his big brother’s booster and the photo was taken entirely for the purpose of showing how the coat works in a booster seat. Declan is still riding in a harnessed seat.

So what’s new over at BMBC? Well, they have two new fashions! They are limited edition and include a cozy sherpa lining and a hood! You can see them below. “Hello Cupcake” is a super cute blush color and “Tornado” is the exact color you’d expect with a name like that—a really nice slate gray. Get them here on the BMBC website!

Lastly, as of this past fall, they have a trade up program! If you donate an outgrown BMBC, you receive a $20 credit toward the purchase of a new one. If you donate a regular coat, you get a $10 credit. Quality coats can be pricey, so the credits are a great way to offload some of that cost! They also offer a preorder program to order ahead for next season, and change your size any time before it’s delivered, if needed. The donated BMBC are given to local children in wheelchairs and the traditional coats are donated to refugee children from Syria. Such a great way to ensure your kids aren’t the only ones to benefit from your purchase.

All coats can be found on the BMBC website: Bucklemecoats.com.

Thank you again, Dahlia, for keeping us warm and safe for another winter. <3

I received no compensation from BMBC and the opinions expressed are entirely my own.

Here Comes Our Circus – A Review of the Keenz Stroller Wagon!

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Well. It happened. The newest Carseatblog baby is here, and she’s actually the reason for this review! I will be honest though and say I started on this and took pictures months ago when she was still in Hotel Utero but life with busy older boys got in my way because by the time I sat down to write this, I’d pass out in pregnancy exhaustion. Enough of the excuses though, she’s a few months old and napping so here we go!

Both my older boys play baseball and with that comes lots and lots of stuff. We were hauling everything to a game one evening and I was thinking how the heck I was going to push a stroller and carry coolers and snacks and folding chairs at the same time. The boys can’t help because they’ve already got their bags and sports junk. Sure, I could babywear, and I do, but I need a place to set her down to chill when I’m helping in the field (let’s not have an episode of Foul Ball Meets Baby) and a stroller is best for that. Enter the Keenz Stroller Wagon. I read about it and it seemed perfect because we were already planning on getting a utility wagon from Costco or some other place and this was basically combining our stroller with the utility wagon.  So is that a stragon? Or a wagoller?

  

I quickly found out that it wasn’t as easy as I thought to score one. Apparently, everyone else thinks they’re awesome too. I was excited to find out what the hype was all about, so after a promo code search and my husband thinking I was insane, a green Keenz was on its way to our house!

It arrived quickly and was super easy to set up. I was impressed by the way it went together and how it looked, but the true test would be the push when weighted down! It came with the wagon/stroller itself, canopy and a storage bag for the canopy since you can’t fold it with the canopy on (we will get to that later), a cupholder, a cooler, and a cover for the whole thing to keep it clean when it’s folded and stored.

The canopy is super easy to put on. You just open it and click the arms into the holes on the wagon itself, then put the fabric over the canopy frame. It’s tall enough to accommodate bigger kids and has these nifty drop-down shades to completely enclose the seating area if you wish, or just on one side to block the sun. They roll up and out of the way when not in use. It also unzips around the top and leaves just a mesh covering for ventilation. One thing I noticed though is that it does bunch up a bit for me around the poles. It stays on and doesn’t affect functionality but still irritated me nonetheless. You can purchase a rain cover separately for rainy outdoor days as well as mosquito netting and a wind cover.

The canopy folded in its bag.

The frame is super lightweight and made of aluminum, so the total weight of the stroller wagon is 32lbs. Not featherweight but pretty dang good for something so beastly. The fold isn’t horrible but you’re not going to be doing it one handed. However, this is not a stroller so I don’t expect it to fold as one. For what it is, I find the fold totally reasonable and takes me just a minute or two to load it up. Will it fit in your car? Maybe. Let’s get to the dimensions. When opened and the canopy on, it’s about 25.6in long, 19.2 in wide, and 43.3in tall. Folded it maintains it’s width and goes to 13in in length and 23.2in tall. It fits fine in my van and stores easily under my sewing table at home.

Now, the important part. The push! I was very impressed. The best thing about this and what sets it apart from regular wagons is that it can be pushed or pulled. There is an adjustable handle on either side so you can choose what end to push/pull from (I found that pushing it on the end with the bigger wheels was easier when weighted down). I had both my 5-year-old and 8-year-old sitting in it together (it has a weight limit of 110lbs) and was able to easily push it up and down my street as well as turn around. They didn’t have a lot of room but obviously, my 8-year-old wouldn’t be riding in it for the most part. My 5-year-old had plenty of room to stretch out when he was riding by himself. For those baseball days, the baby will have tons of room to lay, roll around, play with toys, etc all while being protected by the canopy.

My 8 year old fits great although it’s not really meant for him!

All in all, I’m happy with it and think it’s going to be a great addition to our family with 3 kids. To summarize, here’s the nitty gritty:

Pros:

  • The sheer usefulness for a busy, active family. Having one thing to carry all our junk and be a place to stash the baby is better than strollers and bags and having our hands full.
  • The canopy. Yes, you could go out and buy a Radio Flyer wagon for cheaper but this canopy simply can’t be beaten. Blocking the elements, providing a quiet shaded place for naps, blocking wind…it’s just an addition I think is worth it.
  • 5-pt harnesses on both ends to prevent head dives onto the pavement if the child stands up.
  • The push. No, it’s not going to glide with one finger like your stroller. But it’s not a stroller. It’s a stragon. Or a wagoller. It’s big and loaded down with all your junk. For what it is, it’s a great push and a heck of a lot easier than a utility wagon when pulling.
  • Storage! I can’t even go in depth of all the various pockets and zippered areas but let’s just say if you basically bring your entire house with you when you go out, it’s gonna find a place on this thing.
  • Accessories. It comes with a nifty insulated cooler (that attaches on the back so it doesn’t take up internal space) and you can purchase various weather covers, hooks, cupholders, or even a cover in another color.

The cooler fits inside this storage basket and can be removed if you want to use the basket for something else. The basket itself folds down when not in use.

Cons:

  • The cost. It ain’t cheap. It retails for $389.99.
  • It doesn’t push well in sand, so I don’t recommend it for the beach. However, according to Keenz, beach/utility wheels will be available for purchase.
  • It’s a beast. It doesn’t leave room for much else in your trunk and may not even fit in your trunk if you have a very small one.
  • The cover for storage isn’t user-friendly. Maybe it’s just me, but I couldn’t get the thing on correctly. I always had it upside down or just wrong in general and ended up just storing it in the house without the protective cover.
  • You have to disassemble the canopy to fold.

Summary:

This isn’t something you’re going to want to take in and out of your car for quick errands. However, with that said, I used it at Costco and it was amazing. The baby could lay in her boppy on one end and I could put my items in the other end and keep the shades down to protect her from all the winter junk/people’s hacking. I definitely can’t fit Costco stuff in my stroller basket!

Overall the Keenz Stroller Wagon is pretty nifty!  While it definitely is a niche item, I think it’s very useful for the niche it fills. Would I recommend it as a stroller replacement? No. As a utility wagon replacement? Nope (I mean, it would work fine as one but I’m not spending that much on a utility wagon). But as a place to store your kids AND your junk together? Totally. So stragon on! Or wagoller on. Whatever.

The Keenz is available at Amazon and from www.keenz.us. It comes in black, gray, green, or purple.

No monetary compensation was provided from Keenz and the opinions expressed are entirely my own.

Jack of all trades, but master of none.

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I hear the term “jack of all trades” used a lot. But people always leave off the “master of none” part which, at least when I’m applying it to myself, is the most accurate part. You’ve probably heard the term applied to the Alpha Omega car seat, or any of it’s clones. Tries to be a lot of things, and pretty much sucks at all of them. I’m like the Alpha Omega of the mom world.

Most days it feels next to impossible to have two jobs: mom and work out of home mom. Heck, being mom in general is next to impossible some days. Or most days. Or all of them. Really.

You literally spend your whole day giving yourself to someone else. Not just your care but your soul and emotions. Then on top of that, you attempt to maintain some sort of living environment while they ransack and destroy every futile attempt you put forth. It’s something you never really feel adequate at, even though you’re doing your best.

I work weekends as a nurse, and it’s basically déjà vu but with adults. I go to work and spend my whole day putting others’ needs before my own. I don’t eat, I don’t pee. I get yelled at, hit, things thrown at me, and spend lots of time teaching and bargaining. “Please stop smoking. If you stop smoking, maybe you won’t die!” sounds a lot like “Please stop jumping off the top of the playset. If you stop jumping off the playset, maybe you won’t break both your ankles!” There’s lots of poop and bodily fluids and tears involved. And hugs. The hugs that make you mind the other stuff a little less.

The problem is, I always feel like I can’t put my whole effort into both. At home, I’m constantly on the phone about work stuff, or counting down the days till I have to drag myself back there. I snap at my kids when I’m going through work emails (I work in management as well as bedside nursing so work often does come home with me) because I’m frustrated. I don’t see much of my older son as he’s in school all day and by the time we get home from school pick up at 4pm, we don’t have time to go do anything because I have to make dinner and my kids go to bed at 7pm. I miss their weekend ball games, all the fun family events, festivals, and time with my husband.

When I’m at work, I don’t put 100% because I just want to get home to my family. I think about my kids, wonder how their games are going, wish I could give my husband a hand in the yard. I snap at my coworkers because I’m frustrated at what I’m not doing. I don’t always finish the things I should finish because I just want to get home and relieve the guilt of ignoring the kids during the week because I was thinking about work.

It’s a catch 22 really, and I feel like I don’t do anything well. Sometimes I feel like I can’t make anyone happy, including myself. The guilt is overwhelming, especially when you see other moms holding down full time jobs and seemingly rocking it. Unfortunately in this day and age, it’s hard to get by on one income. We’ve done it for years but we felt like we weren’t giving our kids enough and with both of us working, we have opportunities to go do fun things instead of not being able to because we are living paycheck to paycheck. However, working opposite schedules, we don’t really have time to do those fun things. And then apparently on top of all that, I’m supposed to eat healthy, exercise, be involved in my kid’s school, have friends, and make time for myself.

So what’s the answer? I don’t know. It’s probably family specific, and what works for us won’t work for everyone and vice versa. But how do you make it work emotionally? How do you feel satisfied with what you’re doing? How do you not feel stretched thin and still not successful? If anyone has the answers, please let me know. Otherwise, I’ll chalk it up as one of those eternally unanswered mom questions. How do we do it all, and do it well?

You spin me right round, baby.

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Roundabouts have been around for awhile, and I’m sure they’re more popular in some areas of the country than others. I just found out that Northerners call them rotaries. Silly Northerners. 😉

We’ve mostly had 4 way stops at our intersections, and the number of accidents, even fatal ones, have been phenomenally high. Traffic lights require money, so therefore a roundabout at the most problematic of intersections was decided upon. It is BFFs with the older roundabout down the road a quarter mile, so basically our main road is a stretch of whirly twirly fun.

However, one thing I’ve noticed is that not everyone seems to know how to use a roundabout. I can count fairly high the number of times people have shown me gestures of love because I didn’t stop inside the roundabout to let them in. It’s also very common for people to brake inside the roundabout and wait for me to enter. Neither scenario is correct, and increases risk for traffic incidents.

Roundabouts are beneficial for a number of reasons. Most importantly, they reduce the number of accidents. According to the Federal Highway Administration, in the most recent of studies, they reduce total accidents by about 35%, and injuries by 76%. Fatalities in a roundabout are nearly unheard of. That’s much better than getting t-boned when someone runs a stop sign at a 4 way stop! They also improve the flow of traffic, let people make u-turns safely, and require little maintenance.

So, how do you properly use a roundabout and avoid being “that guy”? One word, yield. You yield to traffic within the circle. You don’t stop within the circle to let someone in. You don’t pull into the circle in front of a car thinking they are supposed to yield to you. You stop at the entrance, wait for a break in traffic, and enter. When you exit the circle, use your signal so the car at the next entrance knows you are exiting and does not have to wait for you to pass. If you’ve never used one, they do take some time to get used to. However, after awhile, they’re very straight forward and it’s great to not have to stop completely like you would at a stop sign, providing flow is low and there’s no one in the circle for you to wait on.

So there you go. Now you know how to use a roundabout. Or a rotary. Life tidbits ya’ll, you’ll thank me next time you go on a road trip and come across one of these monstrosities.