Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Joovy Caboose Graphite {Review}

One of my biggest challenges since I became a mom of three is feeling as though I haven't found a rhythm. I wake up each day and think,

"Today is going to be a great day! Everything I do will go smoothly and everyone will have a big huge smile on their faces. Let's do this!"

Shortly after - usually somewhere between the moment those sweet first sips of caffeine hit my tongue and the time I hear the screeches of two children fighting over the same toy, followed by the wails of my formerly sleeping infant because they have voices of high pitched hyenas angels when they scream -  I falter slightly in this thinking.

I realize I am outnumbered 3 to 1. I have two hands and three lovely little humans to fill them. Each day has it ebbs and flows, and I wouldn't change this season of life for anything.

I do try my best to control anything that can make my days go smoother, and eventually get into that rhythm I am seeking. This includes finding the best baby gear. The last thing I want to think about during my day is how to change the batteries in that favorite bouncer, or adjust the straps in our carseat. I want my gear to be easy, convenient, and after thought it my day.

Finding the best stroller has been one of my top priorities. Mr. Cute teases me that I am the Stroller Queen of the South. I can huff at that, but he's not far off. We have 8 strollers currently residing in our garage. Eight. Yikes!

Again, outnumbered 3 to 1, so I need my stroller to be a lot of things - safe, easy, lightweight, have a lot of storage, the ability to make me dinner... Well, that's wishful thinking, but you get the idea.

Today I am going to talk about my ninth addition (because what's one more when you have eight?), and what quite possibly be the answer to make all of my stroller dreams come true.

I was recently given the opportunity to try the Joovy Caboose Graphite, and let me just tell you - get excited!

The Joovy Caboose Graphite is unlike any double stroller I've owned. This tandem designed stroller is compact in size (about the size of most single strollers I've owned), and at only 28 lbs fairly lightweight, yet can hold two children very easily.

One of my biggest complaints about double strollers has always been the size. The Joovy Caboose Graphite allows me to easily maneuver through doorways, stores, maintain my lane on the sidewalk, and takes up minimal space in my trunk.

From box to first stroll, the Joovy Caboose Graphite took mere minutes to assemble. The stroller frame and seating came already assembled. All straps were in place and all remaining parts came with quick easy to read instructions.

With just a few clicks, and a quick pop on of some wheels we were off and rolling.

I think my absolute favorite feature of the Joovy Caboose Graphite is how versatile it is. My older two children have fierce independent streaks. They don't always like the idea of being contained in a stroller, and being strapped in is apparently the toddler equivalent to jail.

The Caboose is unique in that it can be arranged so many different ways to best suit both your needs and your child's sense of independence.

It can be set up for:
  • Two seated areas (one on the front and one on the back). 
  • One seated area and one standing area. A platform is attached to the back that can hold up to 45 lbs. 
  • One seated infant in a reclined position (front; ages 3-6 months), one standing (back)
  • One seated or standing area (back), and one infant carrier.

  • Two front facing seated areas (with additional purchase of Joovy Rear Seat)
I was so impressed with the ease of being able to switch back and forth between the different seating options. The infant carrier attachment was just a quick snap and change from the cup holder, and fit any infant carrier. Any.

That means not buying any special travel system stroller to fit your specific infant car seat. Amazing!

It fit my infant carrier easily, and already had the straps conveniently stored on the stroller itself in organized pockets to lock the infant seat down securely in place.

I loved not having to worry about locating and carrying an extra part around to do this!

And needless to say my "need to be free" children loved that they could stand as we strolled, and loved getting to peek through at one another from the coveted rear seat - it's the little things people.

Storage is key for any mom, no matter how many children you have. That stroller basket is coveted space and needs to be able to hold anything and everything I might need for my day.

I found the Joovy Caboose Graphite's storage space to work well for what I need. I was able to easily access small items from the side and larger items from under the seated area. I would say the only downfall is that they child sitting on the back seat would have to get up to do this.

{Messy toddler fingers prints not included.}
The snack tray area is a great size and perfect for holding drinks, snacks, and anything else little toddler hands might need to get to or store on their stroll.

Overall I've been extremely pleased with the Joovy Caboose Graphite. I love that for this stage of life, I've found a stroller that can make my day a little bit easier and make my children a little bit happier.

Finding that rhythm in the little things will helps me create a greater rhythm in all things - at least until the next meltdown occurs over that coveted Paw Patrol toy I only have one of. No stroller can help with that.

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** I was gifted this stroller from Joovy in exchange for a review. All thoughts and general awesome opinions are my own. **

Monday, June 27, 2016

Mix & Mingle: Grey Dot Co. {Giveaway}

We have such a fun day planned for you! We have the most darling little shop that we want to share with you today in our latest installment of our Mix & Mingle series. You are simply going to adore our friend Angie and her online store The Grey Dot Company

First, let's introduce you to Angie - owner and creator of The Grey Dot Company. 

Isn't she absolutely adorable?!? 

And if she isn't adorable enough, check out her crazy cute family!

This totally makes us want a few more to add to our own crazy crew. :) 

We sat down and asked Angie to give us a little inside scoop about her and her fabulous shop.

Tell us a little about yourself. 
My name is Angie Hansen and I am the designer of The Grey Dot Company.  I have been married for 16 years to my wonderful husband who keeps me laughing and we have 5 kids; Olivia 13, Harrison 11, Maxwell and Isabella 9 and Stella 4.  I graduated with a degree in interior design and drafted house plans for a little while.  I have been crafty as long as I can remember.  I had a neighbor while growing up who would cut out almost an entire "tole painting" book for me and I would go to town painting.  My love for designing has never stopped.  I am a type of person who will teach themselves how to do anything and won't stop till I figure it out.

Describe your style. 
 would have to say my style is a little bit of everything.  I love to mix different textures together.  I love happy colors and I am not afraid to mix patterns and designs.  If it looks good then it works for me.

What is your favorite summer activity? To do with the kids? 
I love summer and no schedules.  You can find me enjoying summer nights sitting outside on our patio enjoying the perfect Idaho weather.  Our family loves to watch movies outside in our backyard and make s'mores. We love a good road trip to visit new places.  Our family has Lagoon amusement park season passes so you will find me screaming on Cannibal or sitting by the pool. 

If you could eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be? 
Oh man this is a hard one.  Do I choose something healthy, or go all out and getting fat isn't a factor!  But I'd probably have to say grape flavored zipfizz.  I know that's not food but it's what I always have in my hand.  I used to be a diet coke addict and that would have been my answer, but I've been diet coke free for 2 years and zipfizz is what I live on.  But if I had to pick a food I'd say cookies and cream ice cream (if that counts as a food).

What inspires you as a designer? 
I love to make something from nothing.  A thought turns into a creation.  It is a way I am able to express myself without words.  I find it satisfying to create things that make other people happy and turn a plain space into a happy space.  

Now that you've fallen in love with Angie, let's take a peek at her shop. 

The Grey Dot Company is filled with so many fabulous home decor and party items that just appeal to our southern hearts. 

With summer in full swing we absolutely love this little Lemonade sign

Her printables are so versatile, and lend themselves to a variety of uses. We though this "Bushel & Peck" print could be used both in your everyday home decor or even as an adorable addition for a nursery!

We love everything about this little "Love My Tribe" print
Gold always speaks to us. Always. 

Her custom "Babies Don't Keep" line is one of our absolute favorites, and makes for a great gift for a new arrival. 

Angie makes gorgeous banners, and we love some of her latest creations. 

When we saw all of Angie's amazing banners, we could not resist having one made for our favorite holiday. 

These 4th of July banners are the perfect patriotic touch to our home decor, and we can't wait to pull them out again for some of our other upcoming events and holidays we have planned - We're looking at you Summer Olympics!

The banners are exceptionally made, and have such fun little details. 

We adore these cute little pom poms she adds to each one. Almost every banner Angie creates has a cute little detail like this - poms or tassels. Such a great tiny little touch that makes such a big impact. 

They come in a wide variety of options and we love each and every one!

With their durable canvas material we know that these will be able to endure what ever patriotic celebration we have prepared for it for years to come. 

And because we love these banners so much we've decided to partner with Angie at The Grey Dot Company to give one away! 

One of our fabulous readers will get to choose either one of the featured patriotic banners of their choice. All you have to do is leave a comment below letting us know:

What banner style is your favorite from The Grey Dot Company? 

For additional entry options check out our post on Instagram!

Winner will be announced on Friday, July 1st. Must be 18 or older and a resident of the United States. Winner must contact us within 48 hours of announcement or another winner will chosen. 

To Learn More About Angie and The Grey Dot Company: 
| Etsy | Instagram

Be sure to say hi to Angie at The Grey Dot Company, and thanks for Mix & Mingling with us!
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Friday, June 24, 2016

Swim Team 101

I pretty much have a love/hate relationship with swim team.  My girls really love it and I really don't.
I never did swim team as a kid and last year was the first year my girls did it so I felt like I was thrown in with little or no direction and just expected to know what to do.  At the first meet we had only had a few practices so not only was I confused by all of the different events, heats, and volunteer responsibilities, but the girls were also so confused about what was expected of them.  However, as time went on during the season I got the hang of what to expect and seeing how much the girls loved it really made me grin and bear it.

So now that I have almost my 2nd season as a swim team mom under my belt I though I'd share our experiences for anyone thinking about embarking on this sport with their kids.

One thing I don't love about swim team are the daily practices each morning.  I'm a night owl and my kids like to stay up late so I don't mind letting them do that in the summer, but they have to be up and ready for swim practice early each morning so needless to say I'm dragging myself out of bed each morning to rush us all to practice.  The daily practices also make the summer seem to fly by.  Our summer is so short...only 8 weeks and staying so busy just makes the time off of school seem to fly by.  That being said, it gets us out of the house each morning and gets our day going.  And despite the mornings that I just wish we could be in our pajamas and not rush out the door my girls have never once complained about having to to go swim team so that is one way I know they love it.  Also, the really great thing about them practicing each day is that they are swimming laps daily and it makes them such strong swimmers.

This year with the way the ages worked out the girls were in the same age group meaning they had the same practice time.  Next year that won't be the case and if Boo-Boo does swim team then we'll really be in for a long morning of practices.

If my girls love swim team practice they love meets about a million times more.  From socializing, sharpie tattoos (more on that later), cheering for their friends and getting treats at the concession stand, it is like a kid's dream.

It really is cute that they all cheer so loudly for each other and get into each race.  Last year so many of our meets were delayed because of thunder, but this year we had no weather delays so they ended much earlier. 

Every family is expected to have a volunteer for the meet which was news to me when we first began.  From being a timer in one of the lanes, a place judge, or helping with concessions there are all sorts of jobs needed to make the meet run smoothly.  Last year I was the runner for each meet and that meant I had to get the time sheets from each lane and "run" them over to the people tallying the scores.  It doesn't sound too hard, but with a 3 year old in tow, it wasn't the easiest job.  This year I've been the place judge a few times and I really like that volunteer position.  You work with someone to call out/record the order that the kids finish each race.  It's easy and you get to sit down!  Haha! I left each meet last year so tired and with my feet really hurting from all of that "running."

Sharpie Tattoos:
When you get to the swim meet our team's coaches have a board with all of the kids' names listed with the events they will be swimming in.

It also shows the different heats and the lane they will be swimming in.  I've finally learned how to transfer this information:

Into this: 

You have to write on their arms the (E) event number and what that event is, (H) heat, (L) what lane they will be swimming.  This not only helps me to keep up with when they are swimming, but they learn to look at their event numbers and know when to get ready to swim.  Also when they are checking in with the volunteer in charge of getting the kids in the correct spot at the current time they just show their arm.  

After the important stuff is out of the way then comes the fun!  They like having their names written on their shoulders and some sort of "Eat my bubbles" or "Swim Harper Swim" saying written on their back.  

I know the concessions are a fundraiser for the teams and while I like the idea of supporting them, I do not like the idea of all of the junk the kids eat.  From ice cream to candy bars to chips, they always want the junk. A lot of people just bring money and feed their families at the meets.  There are always some sort of meal option like hamburgers, pizza, etc.  I have gotten smart though and just pack our things.  I bring a cooler with sandwiches, fruit, snacks and drinks and it works out nicely to know I have good options for them to eat during the meet and then I generally let them each pick one treat from the concessions.  

Beat the heat: 
One of the hardest parts of swim team is that it is so hot and I just have to sit and stare at the pool dreaming of how nice it would be to hop in and cool off.  Last night on the way to the meet I looked down and my car read 100 degrees.

It was a scorcher for sure.  I always make sure I wear hat and I never get dressed up for swim meets.  I know I'm just going to get hot and sweaty so usually my comfy workout clothes is what I'll keep on for meets.  I also make sure I have lots of cool drinks in my cooler.  As little Boo-Boo said to me this evening, "Our cheeks are both red."  And they were!  It was so hot! He was a good sport though and had fun playing with some of the other younger siblings until Mr. was able to come pick him up and take him home.  

The morning after meets I'm sure each team does it differently, but ours has donuts at practice and practice is more of a free swim.  The kids love this time to play and swim with their teammates and coaches.  This is also when the kids get the ribbons they earned from the night before.  It's one of their favorite things about swim team!  

Last year I took an idea from one of my favorite bloggers, Amanda from Dixie Delights, for how to keep up with and store all of the swim team ribbons.  It works out great and this year I just added to their ring clips by printing out another tag with this year's date on it.

Sadly, last night was our last swim meet for the season.  We are going to be out of town for the very last meet next week so the girls swam their best and enjoyed every moment they could.  I can't even believe I'm saying this, but I'm kind of sad swim team is over.  Seeing the girls swim last night was so much fun and I am so impressed with how well they have improved.  Until next year...

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