Friday, July 11, 2014

My Favorite Double Stroller (and it doesn't cost hundreds of dollars!)

I finally found a double stroller that I like!  We've tried a couple different ones and I've read lots of reviews, looking for just the right thing.

First we had an older Graco DuoGlider that I found at a garage sale for $25 when I was expecting Julia.  It served its purpose and saw plenty of use, but I grew to hate it.  It was kind of a beast to push - it felt long and hard to steer.  Also, the worst problem was that whenever a child wanted to get in or out, I had to yank with all my might to get the snack tray off, and then kick it to get it to snap back into place.  To get a child into the back I would lift them up and then kind of slip their legs under the tray, but that wasn't easy either.  I did use this stroller up until I was pregnant with our fifth and decided that it was worth finding something better.

Graco DuoGlider

I loved my Graco Quattro Tour single stroller, and went back to using it whenever I could.  Usually though, I ended up with two kids wanting to ride.  I would be cranky because I really preferred to push the single stroller, but the kids wanted the double along.  The Quattro Tour single pushed so smoothly, and had a nice little latch that opened up the snack tray easily to let kids in and out.  I decided to look for a double stroller with some features like this.

Looking at double strollers gave me sticker shock.  I'm sure there are some great options out there, but I needed to stick to a smaller budget than most of what I saw.  Eventually I realized that there was a Graco Quattro Tour Duo.  I was drawn to the easy in and out trays, the handles looked nice for ease of pushing, and it was a Quattro Tour just like the single that I loved!

Graco Quattro Tour Duo

I found one on Craigslist for $100 and decided to go for it.  At first we liked it, but unfortunately there were still some problems.  The stroller was okay to push, but still pretty heavy and big.  The child in the back could hardly see, and the basket kept falling down.

Graco RoomFor2 Stand and Ride

After reading more reviews, I decided to try one more - the Graco RoomFor2 Stand and Ride Stroller.  I looked at the Joovy Caboose and several others and eventually decided on this one. had a sale and I snagged it for $103.  (And yes, when it arrived, my husband said, "How many strollers do we have now?")  With one caveat, we absolutely love this stroller!  It solved some problems that I didn't even know I had.

folds up pretty small 

The Graco RoomFor2 is easy to push - it compares much more in size to the single stroller than to the doubles.  It folds up small, and is easy to lift in and out of the van.  The front snack tray has the handy release button, and the best part: the back is so easy to climb in and out of!  I realized that I liked having my youngest in the front seat so he could see, but that meant that I was constantly LIFTING the older ones in and out of the back seat when they wanted to ride.  Duh!  The sit and stand concept is perfect, the older ones can climb in and out on their own.

We have a Graco infant seat that I haven't tried yet, but is supposed to fit with this stroller.  Note: I did look at the Graco Ready2Grow, but there seemed to be some things I wouldn't like about it.  Reviews say it is big and bulky and people talked about kicking the stroller when they tried to push it.  Also, I wasn't super concerned about the infant seat and using it with the stroller.  Tiny babies get worn in a baby carrier on me anyway.  :)

 see that latch?  magic!

The only negative to the stroller is the tiny basket that is hard to access.  I bought a mommy hook at the mall and that really helps for when I need to carry extra shopping bags.  I just leave the hook on the stroller at all times.  To access the basket, I pull down the elastic on the side and stuff my diaper bag in.  Its not easy, but it works.

My diaper bag does not fit through that opening between the seats.

I can pull down the elastic side and stuff things in this way, diaper bag included.

I sold the Graco DuoGlider on Craigslist for $25 and the Graco Quattro Tour Duo for $100 (exactly what I had paid for each one!).  Now the only amount I had spent on strollers was the $103 that the RoomFor2 cost, not bad at all.  I don't know why I had never considered a Sit N Stand type stroller before, but I'm very happy with this one.

This is not a sponsored product review in any way.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Snacks On the Go

My kids are always hungry!  Because we are gluten and dairy free, I need to be prepared and bring snacks wherever we go.  It is nearly impossible to just stop and grab something for them to eat.

I can usually find some packaged snacks at Costco that work for us.  (applesauce pouches, Annie's fruit snacks, freeze dried fruit, nuts, craisins, Lara bars, veggie straws)  I have a snack bin in the pantry that I keep stocked so that we can grab things on our way out the door.  The Bumkins snack bags tucked in there are to fill with nuts or craisins.

I recently bought a box of small Dixie cups to use in the car.  They were only a few dollars and have adorable little owls on them that the kids love.  Even the Costco individually packaged snacks can get expensive when there are so many of us, so to save more money I just bring along a large bag of something.  (gf pretzels, popcorn, veggie straws, snap pea crisps, etc)  I grab one of the Dixie cups from the box and fill it up for each child.  The cups stay in the car so that they are always available when I need them.  In the past we kinda fumbled around with handing each kid a handful of snack or using a napkin or something, but that usually ended up making a mess.  I tried washable cups at one point, but they ended up getting left in the van and staying dirty.  Disposable cups are not much more waste in comparison to the individual packaging on the snacks that we would have been buying otherwise.  They were inexpensive and work nicely for this purpose.  We do try to use the cups a few times before throwing them away.

My kids and I each have a water bottle that we fill up and bring along when we know that we will be out and about for more than just a quick trip.  If I am planning to run errands, I will fill up their water bottles in the morning and they use that cup for the whole day so that it is ready to grab and go whenever we leave.  These are Contigo brand and have worked well for us.  I've seen them at both Meijer and Costco.

What tips do you have for feeding hungry kids on the go?

Monday, June 23, 2014

Construction Birthday Party

Isaac turned two in March!  I think I've had this cake in my Pinterest ever since he was born, just waiting for the right time.  :)  It was so easy to do and turned out wonderfully.

The cake was gluten and dairy free - I used this mix: Pamela's Products Luscious Chocolate Cake Mix and the frosting recipe from The Healthy Gluten-Free Life: 200 Delicious Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Soy-Free and Egg-Free Recipes!.  The chocolate chip "rocks" are Enjoy Life brand.  I used these Toystate Caterpillar Construction Mini Machine 5-Pack as the cake topper.  They also served as table decorations and party favors too.  The napkins and plates we found at Hobby Lobby.  Some yellow streamers along with these fun 7" Traffic Signs made easy decor.

We served lemonade, cake, veggies and dip, and fruit salad for a simple afternoon party.

Some of his favorite gifts were these:

Toystate Caterpillar Construction Take-A-Part Trucks: Wheel Loader

Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site

Postal Service Kid's Toy Truck

In fact, this is how we had to do diaper changes for a while, drill in hand!  :)

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Birth Stories

So you've read Story Number One where I became a mama,

     Story Number Two where my traumatic birth was redeemed, even down to the details,

Story Number Three where Esther arrived before the midwife even did...

     and Story Number Four where our precious baby boy was born two years ago now!

Each story is unique and magical and I am honored to have been blessed with each of these little ones to love and care for.  I realize its been slow on the blog - I'm still here.... just working on Story Number Five, to come in October!  :)  I enjoy writing, and am balancing my online time with homeschooling my kiddos and spending time loving on them.  I'll squeeze in a quick post whenever I have time, and of course stay tuned for Story Number Five in October!!