Friday, May 30, 2014

Evenflo Symphony LX Carseat Review - Pretty awesome if you ask me!

When researching car seats, what are the most important features to you? Safety rating, style, size, accessories, longevity of use?

Wouldn't it make sense if stores offered a "try before you buy" program?  After all, as a new mom you rarely know what exactly it is you're looking at when shopping for and you have to buy it before baby is born. Between children #1 and #2 I can definitely say that what I look for as changed a lot!

For Penny we bought an infant car seat and stroller combination that worked out really well for us because Penny was such a wee, slow growing little girl. We transitioned her out of the infant seat when she was probably 14 months old and somewhere in the vicinity of 19 lbs. It was absolutely essential to us to keep her rear facing as long as possible so our toddler seat is able to go both ways. At 26 months and 23 lbs she is still rear facing. It is the safest direction for her as research shows that toddlers do not have the strength to control their head during an impact and can suffer devastating injuries even in low impact accidents when facing forward.

But it's amazing to me as to how siblings can be so different. Ruby at 9 weeks old is already almost 13 lbs and I know that she will not last in her infant seat as long as her sister did. Theres almost been  no similarity in sizing between these two girls (cloth diapers, clothes, babywearing and  now car seats). This had me researching other options and I learned about the Evenflo Symphony™ LX.

The Evenflo Symphony™ LX is a car seat that accommodates babies from 5-110 lbs. That literally sounds like a car seat that grows with the child! With 2 kids (and definitely more in our future) its a priority for me to keep it simple by limiting multiples or surplus items. So having a car seat that Ruby will use until she is big enough to safely ride without one is awesome!

What sets the Evenflo Symphony LX apart from other car seats?

  • Outlast technology (developed by NASA) for heat distribution. You don't have to live in a hot climate to know about how uncomfortable a poorly ventilated seat can be. a few weeks ago I had Ruby in a loaner car seat and was shocked to find her sweaty and uncomfortable...but it was a mild Pacific Northwest day. The fabric used on the Symphony DLX battles this problem by distributing the heat evenly across the seat to help keep baby at a comfortable even temperature. The picture to the right is comparing a child after 30 minutes in a car seat with Outlast vs 30 minutes without Outlast.
  • Robust supports for side impact protection and exceeding the federal crash  requirements for car seat safety standards.
  • Ease of use features like buckle pockets to keep clips from getting too hot, no retreading needed as your child grows and cup holders.

My favorite part about this car seat is how easy it is to install and use. Evenflo prides itself on having a 60 second installation and I put it to the test. I was able to install it into my Suburban in about 73 seconds (first try). That's pretty impressive for anyone, but pretty much a feat of awesomeness for me! The latch system also comes out of the bottom of the seat like a seat belt (retracts like one too), rather than the stupid tighten / adjust system that other car seats use. So the fit is perfect every time. 
The Evenflo Symphony DLX is part of Evenflo’s new platinum protection collection and is available at Babies R Us

If you're looking for a single car seat that will grow with your child, this is the one. I've paid more for our other car seats and the quality really doens't compare. 

Disclosure: I participated in this sponsored campaign on behalf of One2One Network. All opinions stated are my own, but I wouldn't share about it if I didn't like it!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Under Construction: #ThrowbackThursday Our First Renovation (Update)

Don't want to miss out on any of our renovation shenanagins? 
Click here for a full list of my posts on it!

Last week I shared some of the highlights lowlights from our first renovation, so here's what it all looked like when we were done!

 Our finished kitchen! Oh, how I miss it.

All of these cabinets were installed by my extraordinarily handy and handsome husband.

An overview of the counter tops // my favorite wall featuring the best oven of all time and my wine bar // an over the cook top faucet (perfect for filling my huge pot!) // a pop up stand for my KitchenAid mixer so that it doesn't have to sit on top of the counter all the time.

 Our formal sitting room - with the couch that no one was allowed to sit on ;)

The opposite view of the formal sitting room - where that mysterious stain was previously. Updated to all hardwood and added wainscoting for a very formal look.
The master bath got an update with new tile flooring and counter tops - this was towards the end of our renovation and we already knew we were moving so it was pretty much a last minute project that we knew we needed to do but weren't going to put the same amount of investment as we had throughout the rest of the house.

Throwback Thursday has a way of bringing tears to my eyes. We have so many memories of this home - it was where we transitioned from newly weds to home owners to parents. We kept a log of our hours worked and a very conservative tally was 1300 hours between the two of us. Now that we're knee deep into our second renovation, we've gone through so many projects much faster and know where it's worth it to spend the extra money and where to cut back a little bit. I can't wait to share some before and after photos of our current home with you all!

Oh, and this is 8 week old Penny and I. Blast from the past!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

9 Items to Survive the 4th Trimester

With my "4th trimester" quickly coming to a close, I've been reflecting on truly what has been my biggest go-tos in recovering from natural birth and transitioning to two under two.

I know some of you are thinking - uhm, 4th trimester? Is Bianca completely off her rocker? The 12 weeks following birth are affectionately called the "4th trimester" because both mama and baby still have big (and I mean BIG) changes that they go through. Not too many people stop to think about how suddenly being in a whole new world is for babies - they have to learn how to do everything. Breathe, eat, poop, fart, focus their eyes, smile, coordinate their arms and fingers. It doesn't happen by magic, people! That little person has a lot of learning coming their way, and sometimes new parents get caught up in it all and stress when things aren't going as well as they'd hoped...when it's all normal. Mamas change too- whether you're a seasoned or first time mama.  Physical and emotional changes abound for these first 12 weeks and it's important to be aware of these changes for yourself and baby.

So I bestow upon you an abbreviated list of 9 things that I have found helpful during my 4th trimesters - the two that I've had in two years.

1. A fluffy robe is simply a MUST. Why? It's soft and cuddly for mama, soft and cuddly for baby to snuggle up on, easy access for nursing and pretty much a huge towel to catch all that spit up that is bound to make its way out of your little bundle's ever so precious mouth. Invest in several.

2.  The NuRoo Pocket. I've written about how much I love this shirt for babywearing and kangaroo mother care.  This is another item that keeps baby close and easy access for nursing. The NuRoo Pocket has a generous size adjustment so that it can accommodate to your changing body and growing baby during the 4th trimester and beyond.

3. If this isn't your first baby, you probably spent a considerable amount of time during this pregnancy wondering how you're going to juggle a newborn and your older child. Heck, I'm only a few months into this journey and I still wonder how I'm going to do it! With my kids being just about 2 years apart, my older daughter Penny is just now getting into independent play - which means its a 70/30 chance that she's going to get into some sort of trouble if left to her own devices for too long. The girl loves painting but when I'm tied up with the newborn she can't play with her colors. So that's when we pull out our Melissa and Doug Water Wow. This is a packet with stiff cardboard pages with illustrations that magically turn to color when painted with water. As they dry the color disappears and can be reused roughly a bazillion times! Our oldest packet is about 6 months old and was heavily used for 4 of those months and still works great. They're affordable, fun, clean and perfect for road trips or while waiting at the doctor's office for Little Sister's well child appointments.

4. I'm all about comfort, especially during the 4th trimester. Whether you're nursing your first little or 5th, breastfeeding a newborn is not always easy. Even after nursing Penny for 20 months and through 5 months of my second pregnancy, nursing Ruby still took some getting used to. She had a mild tongue tie and just like any other baby she was learning how to nurse (it's a very coordinated muscle effort!), which meant my boobs were very sore and tender. The small luxury I can give myself (in addition to a hot shower) is to make sure that whatever touches my boobs is soft. And when it comes to nursing pads, Bamboobies has no equal. The boob side of the pad is bamboo velour and the other side is waterproof PUL for no leaking spots!! Yay!

5. Then there's the milestone that pretty much every new mom dreads after birth...going to the bathroom. For many of us, #1 and #2 are not the most pleasant and the healing process of the postpartum period can take upwards of two weeks. If you're not a family cloth gal, the next best thing you can do for your lady bits is Cottonelle Freshcare cleansing cloths (which are flushable!). They're like baby wipes for grown ups, leaving you fresh and clean. When you're ready for real paper again try Cottonelle Cleancare toilet paper too - it's wider than most toilet paper rolls. Click here for a $1.50 off CVS coupon for the Cottonelle wet+dry combo!

6. Mama cloth - if you want the full details on reusable menstrual pads during postpartum, check it out here. Otherwise, again - do yourself a favor and require that anything that touches your sensitive parts to be soft and not scratchy. Soak these in witch hazel and freeze before your birth so that you've got some awesome "padsicles" to help with the healing and some pain relief when you get home.

7. Sitz baths are another 'down there care' requirement. There's tons of recipes out there for Sitz baths, but for both of my natural birth recoveries I've kept several bags of Deerfoot Herbs Sitz baths on hand. Made from hand picked, locally sourced herbs,;steep this in a huge pot and keep it in the bathroom. Buy a Sitz bath to put over the toilet or just take a bath. Keep a little extra to use in a peribottle when you pee. That cleansing cloth I talked about in point #5 is also a nice way to finish up.

8. Breastfeeding moms know that a healthy diet is a must for keeping your energy up while your body uses extra calories in making milk for your little one. Galactogogues (foods and herbs that help increase breast milk production) are also an important part of your diet. But eating oatmeal or drinking tons of mama's milk tea is not the only way to increase your milk supply! It's pretty much every nursing mom's dream come true when we learn about lactation cookies - and Milk Makers Cookies are one of my favorite!  {Stay tuned for a review & giveaway!}

9. My final recommendation for the 4th Trimester involves getting your support system in place. Every new mom, again if it's your first or 5th, needs a little bit of extra help in the beginning. Even though I had an uncomplicated natural birth, I still experienced a unique tear that required me to be diligent about bed rest for 2 weeks. That's not easy in the slightest when you have a family to take care of! So in addition to the amazing help that we got from our families on the weekends, we were blessed by meals from our church and friends. A friend set up a 'meal train' through and it was the easiest way to coordinate when someone would be bringing dinner. You just set up what days you'd like meals, make notes on what you like and don't like, and the rest of taken care of. The friend gets a reminder email a few days before their date so that you don't have to. It was a huge weight off my shoulders and an easy way for people to get to see the baby too!

What would you add to your 4th trimester must have list?

Disclosure: Thank you Cottonelle for sponsoring today's post. Please help me in supporting this Pierogie Mama sponsor by checking out Cottonelle on the CVS website (more clicks = more sponsors for me!). This post contains affiliate links.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Under Construction: #Throwback Thursday Our first renovation

Don't want to miss out on any of our renovation shenanagins? 
Click here for a full list of my posts on it!

As many of you know, Adam and I are project people. Our first renovation was truly a labor of love and it set the stage for how we purchase houses in the future and what we know we can handle in terms of what kinds of projects we can tackle and what level of construction we can handle living in on a daily basis. I mention our first renovation on here every now and again, but on this #ThrowbackThursday I wanted to share some of the pictures of what exactly we started with. Then come back NEXT Thursday for what happened!
We bought the house as a short sale and went into it knowing that we'd take every aspect of that house and change it. We did a full kitchen renovation, updated bathrooms, all new hardwood flooring and carpets and painted every room. The yard was a total mess and in the 2 years we owned the home we completely turned it around and made a great profit, even though it wasn't intended to be a "flip."

This was our dining room upon purchase of the home. It looked like someone changed the oil of a motorcycle in that room! We had asked the previous owner about it and he said it was a water stain but even I wasn't born yesterday ;) All the carpet and flooring was promptly ripped out.

This was the original kitchen. Not that bad to the naked eye - but open any one of those cabinets and it would have been completely rotted out and filled with all kinds of nasties! Those were also promptly ripped out upon move in..

And that is how our downstairs started out on our first day of owning this home. It was about 9 months of working full time on weekends and after work to get the kitchen into it's final stage, which I can't wait to share with you how it looked when we were all done!

This was the backyard. Over 50% of it was overgrown with very mature bamboo, which is a b*tch to remove, let me tell ya! It took the entire two years to cut it down and push it back into a small manageable corner of the lot. Parts of me really wanted to contact the local zoo to see if I can rent a panda for a day...

Click here for the final reveal!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Newborn Fitted Cloth Diaper Hen and Chick

Cloth diapering can seem like a big pool of unknown to jump into; but newborn diapering? That seems even harder! 

As we began preparing for the arrival of our second baby, Ruby, I knew that I would definitely want to continue with our investment of cloth diapering our children. I had started Penny in cloth at about 3 weeks using a cloth diaper service. But this time around, as a seasoned cloth mama, I knew that we can handle the newborn phase too. But finding the perfect fit is an extremely difficult task, and the best I could do was guess on sizing based on what we experienced with Penny - which was an extremely small tush.

I contacted Heather from Heather's Green Home Goods about her very unique style of fitted diapers (which come in all sizes, but I specifically saw a great possibility with her preemie/newborn line) and waited patiently for my diapers to arrive :)

A "fitted" cloth diaper means that it requires the use of a cover. They can be a specific size; such as small, medium, large or by approximate weight range, or the currently very popular "one size" option that most cloth diaper manufacturers offer. The benefit of a sized cloth diaper is that it is more closely tailored to the size of diaper that your child currently needs; which is extremely important in the newborn phase, especially if your babies run small.

Hen and Chick fitted cloth diapers have a unique feature because of their foldable wings. They add that extra absorbent layer that an insert would provide in a pocket diaper, but are attached so it makes for a very easy wash, dry and prep for the next use. This has been a lifesaver for me! As you can imagine, the life of a mama with a newborn is already running on steam (and coffee), and when you add in that this specific mama has two under two then efficiency requirements skyrocket! Not having to really "prep" these diapers for their next use has been of great benefit to us.

The diapers are made from 2 layers of flannel, but with the wings folded in you now have 6 layers. To some this might seem like not that much; but remember - you've got a newborn. They need diaper changes like every 15 minutes because of how quickly they are processing breastmilk. You don't need a super fluffy diaper for the little ones and having a quick drying diaper in the early stages is so important. One way to add additional absorbency is to add another layer, such as a newborn microfiber insert that typically comes with Bum Genius diapers.

Ruby fit in these from birth (7 lbs 15 oz) to 9 weeks (12 lbs 10 oz) - so they fit a great range of weights for newborns.

These diapers do require a diaper cover, as they don't have a waterproof layer. We tried them out with a Thirsties cover, Blueberry and Buttons cover. Our favorite fit for Ruby has been the Blueberry Weehuggers cover. 

Heather also loves to customize her Hen and Chick cloth diapers! I opted for teal serging with a candy red snap - this kept it gender neutral but also pretty fun. Her Etsy shoppe features a ton of other options, such as prints instead of plain white and over 20 color options for thread or snaps.

Want to try some of your own? 
Check out Hen and Chick Cloth on Etsy to see all of what Heather has to offer - including nursing pads, wet bags, baby dresses and so much more!

Disclosure: I received product in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own. This post contains affiliate links.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Royal Fluff Cloth Diaper review & giveaway

I recently got to try out the Royal Fluff one size microfiber liner with microfiber insert as well as their wet bags. 

These one size diapers are rated to fit babies that are 9-35 lbs. With both of my girls in that weight range (Ruby is about 10 lbs at 2 months old, Penny is about 23 lbs at 26 months) they both fit into the diaper very well.

You can expect the same type of fit from Royal Fluff cloth diapers as you do from most other cloth diaper brands. Because my older daughter is on the small side I tend to be wary one size diapers because they just never seem to fit correctly on her; but we've had great success with this diaper. I really like that the pocket is kept snugly closed with elastic versus the flap system that most other diaper brands use.

The wetbag features two PUL lined pockets - perfect for keeping everything wet contained or keeping things dry...even better, combining the two ;) In addition to carrying cloth diapers around in, I could see taking this with us to the pool or camping.

These are a few of my favorite prints (cue Julie Andrews):

Now you can win a Royal Fluff cloth diaper + insert too! Enter using the options below.

This giveaway has ended. Thanks to everyone who entered!

Disclosure: I received product in exchange for my honest review.

Mother's Day + RadioFlyer Ultimate Family Wagon Review

Since entering the fabulous ranks of motherhood, our annual tradition for Mothers Day has been to take a trip to the zoo. Here's our trip last's crazy that at that point we had no idea that we'd be a family of 4 the next time around.

Because I love going to the zoo so much, Adam got me an annual pass to the Woodland Park zoo as my gift last year and I have taken Penny at least a dozen times. It was awesome! I kind of wondered how I'd fare with two kids and a couple weeks ago a friend and I took our children (4 kids under the age of 3) and I learned very quickly that handling my own two at the zoo is no easy feat. This year I decided to take a break from my awesome annual pass and wait until next year when Ruby is a year old and Penny is 3. Then it'll be easier, right?!

Anywho, our trip this year went really well because Adam and I employed our divide and conquer technique and made it through with as little fuss and muss as possible. If you've seen me at all over the last 2 months, you'll know that I pretty much wear Ruby all the time and that's how we like it. Adam had Penny, and when he wasn't chasing after her she was riding in her princess wagon.

Let me take a moment to introduce Penny's Princess Wagon - aka the Radio Flyer Ultimate Family Wagon.

Why do we love this wagon? Because it's pretty much the bomb dot com. It has everything I can think of!
  • Double seats
  • Each seat folds down so you can also have it become a mobile changing station (or toddler lounge bed, whatever floats your boat)
  • The seats have cushions, which are removable therefore washable.
  • An easy to remove canopy (read: UV protection)
  • 6 cup holders (which hold both adult and child sized cups)
  • Seat belts
  • Storage
  • Lightweight, so it's easy to pull and lift into the trunk

So far this wagon has accompanied us on two zoo trips and a fair experience, and it has been such a huge help. We often have play dates with other toddlers so it's nice to have a wagon that can easily hold two and still have space to carry a snack bag and a few extras. We have gotten so many compliments and envious side glances on this wagon - it's pretty much the creme-de-la-creme of wagons, if you ask me!

You can find the RadioFlyer Ultimate Family Wagon at Toys 'R Us and on

When we got home, Adam and the girls had a surprise for me - a new lilac bush to plant in our front yard under our bay windows! That way I can open the windows during the bloom and smell that intoxicating scent. I felt so loved by my family <3 br="">

See what zoos The Pierogie Mama has written about

Disclosure: Thank you Radio Flyer for sending me the ultimate wagon for our family outings! Product was provided for review, no other compensation was provided. All opinions expressed are my own. We LOVE this wagon! This link contains affiliate links.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

A picnic for dinner! Huggies stylish baby wipes saved the day.

Disclosure: Thank you Huggies for sponsoring today's post. All opinions expressed are my own.

The last few days have been gorgeous and I decided it was high time for us to have our first picnic dinner in our backyard!

On the menu was...
Fresh watermelon slices
Seafood dip with pita chips
Lime cilantro shrimp pasta salad
Dessert: fruit juice popsicles

Lime-Cilantro is one of my all time favorite flavor combinations (right next to caramel and chocolate). Pretty much anything with these two ingredients in on my "must try" list. If Mallards Ice Cream in Bellingham ever decides to put that out, I'm there. Not kidding.

You will need:
1 box of penne or spiral pasta, cooked according to the box's directions
1/4 cup lime juice
2 T olive oil
1/4 c cilantro
1/2 t each of cumin, cayenne pepper, minced garlic, onion powder, salt
1 lb shrimp
1 avocado
1 mango
1 yellow bell pepper
6 oz cherry tomatoes

You will do:
1. Cook pasta amd set aside.
2. Combine lime juice, olive oil, cilantro and spices in a blender. Blend until fully combined - this is your dressing.
3. Cook the shrimp with a little bit of olive oil, salt and pepper.
4. Slice the avocado, mango and bell pepper into little chunks. Slice the cherry tomatoes in half.
5. Combine everything and serve!

The beauty of an outdoor meal is that its so low key. Penny wasn't super interested in the pasta salad (which was surprising, this kid eats everything) so she played with Squirt, ran around and or chatted with the chickens. Of course she came running back to the blanket as soon as the popsicles came out!

So...yea. Berry popsicles = a red mess. This girl ran around flailing this goody with glee and flu g red speckled juice all over the place.  What does every mama keep handy in a case like this? Wipes!

Huggies  just came out with a stylish baby wipes case that durable and refillable. They come in 3 different prints and also have a handle that you can snap to your bag, stroller, wagon, or keep it in the backseat for on the go messes.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

New Reebok #Skyscape Shoes! #mc #sponsored

“I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting (#MC) for Reebok. I received a product sample to facilitate my review and a promotional item as a thank you for participating.”

What's your mom-style? Mine tends to be yoga pants, a zippy (because I'm always cold) and a nursing tank. Running around after a toddler and nursing a newborn on the go simply requires comfort, easy access and the ability to layer. When I'm out and about with Ruby in our Boba 4g carrier and the weather is nice enough I can usually forgo the zippy and I'll throw on my NuRoo nursing scarf as some additional coverage. And the major workhorse of this outfit are my shoes. My activity can change at the drop of a hat and I'd like a shoe that can take me on a brisk walk, play at the park, grocery shopping, play-dating, zoo trips or hanging out in the backyard.

I got to try out the new Reebok Skyscape casual shoe and I'm pretty much in love!

I like these shoes because they are versatile enough to fit into my daily mom activities. They look great whether I'm wearing jeans or yoga pants. These new shoes also feature the same manufacturing techniques and processes as molded foam bras, so they literally mold to my foot and make it a comfortable shoe to wear all day long. 

These are just a few of the features you'll find on the new Reebok Skyscapes:
• Foam material in the upper for softness and flexibility
• Low-cut design for added mobility
• Seamless construction for minimized rub and irritation
• Unique architecture designed to support the foot and provide all-day comfort
• Minimal rubber accents only where needed for traction
• Skyspring technology - features a unique design architecture designed to help support 
the foot and provide all day comfort
• They weigh 5 ounces!!!

My only dislike about this shoe is the sole. It has a little bit of tread, but the risk for slipping on a wet floor is pretty high in my opinion. 

I went to my local Kohl's to buy mine. Unfortunately I live in a small town and they hadn't made their way to the store yet, but Kohl's now has kiosks where you can order anything online and not have to pay shipping. So I ordered mine and about a week later they arrived at my door step! 

Disclosure: "I received a Kohl’s gift card to purchase a pair of ReebokSkyscape shoes in order to facilitate this review and all opinions are my own."

Monday, May 12, 2014

Ruby: One month

Dear little Ruby,

You have been a teacher of many lessons this month! I can't believe how quickly these few weeks have flown by; we've actually transitioned into a 4 member family almost seamlessly overnight. And I don't mean to say this in a way that sounds like I'm bragging...because it really is no thanks to me. It's all thanks to your laid back attitude - you just go with the flow. You readily accepted that you probably will never have a quiet nap time (thanks to your 2 year old sister), that our schedule heavily relies upon your sister's whims, that naps can happen in a loved one's arms (or on their chest), in our bed or on a nest of blankets on the couch. The case was not so with your sister (she was rarely ever put down)! I am so blessed to have such a chilled out second baby...for the moment ;)

The days following your birth were filled with family coming to help while I recovered. Both sets of grandparents, almost all of your aunts, uncles and cousins came to visit in your first two weeks. It was such an immense amount of help to keep me on bed rest and help your sister with the transition. It allowed you and I to snuggle and get to know each other without worrying about cooking, cleaning or any other of our daily routines. Once I was able to get back up onto my feet I was actually well rested and ready to go.

Speaking of rest, your mama thanks you some more. You are such a good sleeper! From day 1 you wake up around 1a and 4a to nurse and otherwise it's lights out. Your daddy and I have noticed, however, that you are not a quiet baby by any means! You only cry when you are getting changed (and are cold) or if mama doesn't get to you quickly enough to nurse, but otherwise you are constantly just making noise. You whine, wimper, snore, or just plain breathe loudly all.the.time! The other night while you were sleeping on my chest as your daddy and I were watching a tv show I could barely hear the tv. I almost had to put on subtitles to keep up with the show.

You've been gaining weight quickly and it eases my heart to see you thriving so well. At birth you were 7 lbs 15 oz, at 2 weeks you were 8 lbs 5 oz, and as of your one month appointment you are 9 lbs 7 oz. I love watching those chubby thigh rolls spill out of your diaper and down to your ankles. Baby fat is just so cute! You've grown out of your newborn sized clothes and cloth diapers so quickly. I can barely keep up with all the changes; you are so different from your older sister!

A blast from the past: Some of my thoughts when your sister was 3 weeks old.

Our time is more occupied these days but our hearts are so full of love for you and your sister.

your mama

Friday, May 9, 2014

The #Urbini Touri Travel System #mc #sponsored

"I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting (#MC) for Urbini. I received a product sample to facilitate my review and as a thank you for participating”

When Penny was 8 weeks old, we traveled to Birmingham Alabama for my brother's graduation in Tuscaloosa from 'Bama. Being a new mom, I took a blind shot and packed our big heavy stroller and car seat because I wanted to be prepared for anything. As it turned out, it was more of a hassle than anything else. Getting through security, making sure that it wouldn't be broken during transport and then there was transferring it into the back of the rental car.. OY. 

Now as a seasoned mom I know where to cut out the extra heavy weight, so to speak. Though we haven't flown with Ruby yet, I know that any upcoming trip with include a soft carrier and our Urbini Touri Travel system. 

I have a cheapie umbrella stroller and it's exactly that - cheap. It's so cheap it might as well be disposable! It has zero storage, is difficult to collapse and isn't adjustable. I love the Urbini Touri  as a baby stroller travel system because it combines the ease of an umbrella stroller but also allows you to click in the Petal carseat (which is approved for air travel) and also adjust the recline of the main child seat.
I like this travel system because I've been able to use it for both of my kids. I can have the option of keeping Ruby in the carseat and having Penny walk next to me (if she has some energy to expend) or I can have Penny sit in the stroller and I can have Ruby in a carrier.  The storage under the stroller is OK, but I couldn't ask for much more since this stroller is meant to be more of a travel stroller versus a "hauling" stroller. The front wheels have a really easy lock mechanism to allow you to set the wheels to lock or swivel, they also remove easily for travel.

We put the Petal infant car seat into our Saab 9-3 and it fits really well too - our other infant car seat made it a really tight squeeze.  The car seat fits Ruby well (at 9 1/2 lbs, 22" and 1 month old). It was easy to install into the backseat of our Saab and didn't require us to move either of our front seats forward (as is the problem with many rear facing car seats and smaller sedans). There are a couple areas of improvement that I can see with this car seat. The adjusting strap to tighten / loosen the straps is difficult to use. I had to pull really hard to get it to tighten, whereas with our other car seats it doesn't take that much strength to pull the strap to tighten. I also don't really like the chest buckle, I would have liked the clip button to be more robust and for the chest plate to be a little broader.
I believe that the car seat will do its job in case of an emergency but the two ease of use features could use some revamping. Otherwise it's a very affordable system for parents on a budget or if you're looking for a lightweight secondary system.

The Urbini Touri Travel System features: 
• Includes Petal Infant carseat (holds children up to 35 lbs)
• Lightweight
• Multi-position reclining stroller seat
• 5-point harness for both the car seat and stroller
• Tuck-away sun visor
• Removable cup holder (I wouldn't recommend more than a 16 oz cup in it though)
• Front suspension wheels

You can buy this travel system at Walmart. Connect with Urbini on facebook and twitter

Disclosure: I received a Walmart gift card to purchase an Urbini stroller in order to facilitate this review and all opinions are my own.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Giveforward: A fundraising campaign platform for cancer patients

 Disclosure: This post was sponsored by GiveForward
but the story you're about to read is my own.

This June will have been 7 years since I lost my dad.

My dad was diagnosed with gastrointestinal stromal tumor (GIST)(cancer) in 1999. At the time, his oncologist had no clue what this even was, much less even begin to know how to treat it. We lived in a small town and he was referred to oncologist after oncologist. He tried chemo but hated the effects. He had a 13 year old daughter and a 7 year old son who were begging him to come play, after all. He wasn't given very good odds because of the rarity of his disease. Thankfully, this didn't stop him.

My dad wasn't the kind of guy to sit back and just let this happen. He started looking into medical trials and over the years was matched up with trials in Philadelphia, Boston and Santa Monica. He underwent several new-fangled surgeries (like being injected with a chemical that 'lit up' his cancer cells, very futuristic at the time) and at one point was traveling for treatment a cycle that sent him from Seattle to Boston on a rotation of once every 4 weeks, twice a month and then back to once every 4 weeks. Imagine the toll it takes on a healthy person to fly that often; and then imagine how a cancer patient feels.

Through his perseverance in trying to find a cure my dad lived with his disease for 9 years. I only know of one other person who has surpassed that time. My dad's battle is the symbolism behind my tattoo. During his travels for cancer treatment he took it as an opportunity to see parts of the country that he normally wouldn't have seen; and took my brother and I on several of those trips.

He couldn't have gotten to where he did without the help of others. As a state worker he was gifted vacation hours by his co-workers so that he can travel for his treatments. When he was in Boston he stayed with a family that made their upper floor available for cancer patients who came to the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. He connected with Angel Flights, where pilots volunteer their time and plane to fly medical patients where they need to go; in my dad's case from Seattle to Santa Monica.

GiveForward is an online fundraising website and one of the easiest ways to raise money for a loved one in need. You can start a fundraiser in a few minutes and spread the word through social media easily. This can be employed to help a patient cover the vast amount of expenses they incur during their treatment. Giveforward has helped over 1,000 cancer families raise over 9 million dollars. You can link up to a fundraiser of someone you know, or bless a stranger with your donation.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Aflac #Duckprints Helps Fight Childhood Cancer + Giveaway!

This giveaway was made possible by Double Duty Divas and Aflac. I was compensated to participate in this campaign, but all opinions are 100% mine.

Unfortunately almost everyone has a story about cancer. No matter whether the story is our own, a parent's, family member's, friend, or acquaintance; it affects us in a very deep way. Tomorrow I'll be sharing my story about my dad's battle with cancer. Though all forms of cancer are tragic, but I think the one that hits us close to our hearts is childhood cancer.

Did you know that in 2007, approximately 10,400 children age 15 or younger were diagnosed with cancer in the United States? Cancer is the leading cause of death (by illness) in America for children under the age of 15. However, according to the National Cancer Institute, the five-year survival rates for all childhood cancers combined increased from 58.1 percent in 1977 to 79.6 percent in 2003. With the incredible research that is constantly being updated, 75% of these cancers can be cured.

Did you know that Aflac is helping find the cure through the Aflac Cancer Center? They provide support by committing to providing childhood cancer patients with advanced medical treatment, family-centered care, a child-friendly environment and innovative research. Aflac has donated more than $87 million to the Aflac Cancer Center, with the goal of reaching $100 million by the end of 2015.

You can help Aflac reach that goal by tweeting or facebooking with the hashtag #Duckprints between now through Mother’s Day (Sunday, May 11). For each #duckprints tweet/retweet or status, Aflac will donate $2 to the Aflac Cancer Center.

The Aflac Cancer Center is featuring patient Trisha Henry Gaffney’s inspiring story using in honor of their Mother's Day #duckprints campaign. 

At the age of 19, Trisha was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma, an aggressive tumor usually found in the head, neck, hands or feet of young children. She underwent aggressive treatment that left her unlikely to have children in the future. “You don’t want your cancer to define you,” Trisha said, “but as you get older, you realize it plays a much bigger part in your life than you’re willing to admit.” She visited joined the Cancer Survivor Program at the Aflac Cancer Center, where she and other survivors are  provided with long-term follow-up care and help with treating the after effects of cancer treatment. Through a long journey of more treatment and freezing her eggs for the possibility of having children in the future, she and her husband welcomed their daughter Isabella in April of 2013 thanks to a friend offering to be a surrogate for them. Trisha encourages survivors to take advantage of the resources available through the Aflac Cancer Center so they can become healthy, happy adults ‒ and parents if they choose.

Aflac has joined with me to help spread the word of the #Duckprints campaign through a giveaway for a $50 giftcard. Just enter using the easy entry options below and help spread the word to get as much donated to the Aflac Cancer Center through Mother's Day.

This giveaway has ended. Thank you to everyone who entered!
Disclosure: The Pierogie Mama is not responsible for prize fulfillment. 

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Can you tell me how to get to Sesame Street LIVE?

Today we saw a show that we've been anticipating for a long time...

Sesame Street Live!

Penny LOVES all things Elmo. Her love for this furry little red guy started during my first trimester with Ruby. This mama was soo tired and there may have been a couple weeks where we watched at least 3 Sesame Street episodes a day. I'm not ashamed to admit it, we've all be there at one point or another!

Our local events center; the Comcast Arena in Everett, is showing; "Sesame Street Live - Make a New Friend" this weekend and there are many other showings that might be near you too. We had a ton of fun not only because this was pretty much Penny's dream come true to see her favorite Sesame Street characters live but also because the acting and dancing were actually pretty good! My favorite dancer was the Cookie Monster character..that guy definitely has some groove and you can tell he (or she!) loves what they do.

The show was about an hour and a half long including a 15 minute intermission. You can buy memorabilia as well as many other concessions throughout the show.  Penny had her first taste of cotton candy and definitely suffered from a very strong toddler sugar crash towards the end...normally I try to avoid these kinds of foods but as a once in a while treat (as Cookie would say), I had to give in.

The plot is about Grover inviting his friend, Champki, from India and he has a long list of things he'd like to show her in the one day that she will be visiting Sesame Street. It turns out that she'd much rather have fun with all the Sesame Street friends and the big finale is Champki and the friends putting on a cute dance for Grover that shows off some of Champki's dance moves from India. There's several covers of pop hits (a Maroon 5 and Katy Perry song) which keeps the adults chuckling too. ;)

My favorite part was seeing the look on Penny's face when Elmo first came out. It was a couple minutes into the show and up until that point she was definitely interested and intrigued, but the pure joy and excitement really came out when Elmo pranced onto the stage. From that point on, the smile never left Penny's face and she would excitedly point out each of the characters as they came on stage and clap enthusiastically at the end of each number.

Mom of two littles tips:
  • Diaper bags are allowed inside; they do a quick check at the door but didn't say anything about the snacks and water that I had packed.
  • Photography is encouraged, but videos are not allowed.
  • The arena gets dark during the show, so nursing was pretty much a breeze. 
  • That's Ruby in our Boba 4g carrier - which we love!
  • Have hubby scout the men's room before the start of the show to see if there is a changing table in there. Then at intermission, send Dad to do the diaper changes because you know the women's bathrooms are going to be packed! (I didn't think of this ahead of time, but managed to beat the intermission bathroom rush and got a changing table)

Oh, and silly husband quote: "I don't think I've ever seen so many toddlers, infants, pregnant women and nursing moms all in one spot before!"

Disclosure: Comcast Arena in Everett WA provided my family with free tickets so that we may enjoy the show. We loved it and hope you do too!


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