Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Star Kids Snack & Play Travel Tray

I have the sweetest four-year-old on Earth, but she is a little whirlwind of messiness.  Miniature disaster areas follow her, despite me cleaning up after her and her cleaning up after herself.  I sort of imagine her to be like a real-life Pigpen from Peanuts.

So, when we recently bought a new vehicle to accommodate our recent addition, I tried enforcing a very, very strict "No food or drink in the car" rule.  This lasted a few weeks, but life happens - we run late to school and need to eat breakfast on the go, or we have a long car trip that spans snack time.  Best laid plans get put aside... and the interior of my car becomes a crumb-filled disaster.  

And then we got a Star Kids Snack & Play Travel Tray (LINK).  

It's a cool invention - it's a small nylon table that has a strap that goes behind the child in their car seat, and sits on their lap as a table.  It has mesh pockets in the sides for sippy cups, food, toys, and so on.  It's pliable so that it can bend to fit different car seat sizes, but is firm enough that a little one can color or play on top of it.  It's the perfect size to fit a few toys or a small art set.  Since it's nylon, it wipes down easily and looks just like new.

We decided to put it through the paces with a doughnut breakfast this week, to see how it kept the seats clean.  Here's a shot of Pickle enjoying her breakfast:

She had a sippy cup of water in the mesh pocket on the side, and this easily fit across her entire lap.  The best part is that it caught every single crumb!  It saved my car from becoming a disaster area, and all I had to do was wipe it quickly with a wet washcloth, and all of the frosting and crumbs were gone.  It dried quickly, and then we used the tray to practice handwriting on the rest of the drive.  Since the tray only runs about $19.99 (LINK), it was a great price-point for such versatility!

If your child is still working on the whole "neat and tidy" thing, I really recommend the Star Kids Snack & Play Travel Tray.  

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Nurse Purse pump bag

Our little man is here!  He is amazing, and he is just perfect...  We do, however, have to pump on occasion after nursing due to a tongue tie - and we will be pumping daily once I return to work.  

I have a Medela Pump In Style Advanced breast pump.  Due to the Affordable Care Act, most insurance plans do not cover the black backpack with new pumps; a bag must be purchased separately.  

I looked around and researched the available off-the-rack bags available.  Nurse Purse (LINK) and Juno Blu (LINK) are the two main ones, with Sarah Wells also available I off the rack.  

Here are some basics on how the different bags break down:

Nurse Purse:
Cost - $129
Material - cotton laminated canvas, water resistant lining. Easy to clean.  
Extra space - Rear pocket fits folders, exterior pockets fit bottles, interior storage for laptop, zippered interior pockets.

Juno Blu:
Cost - $185
Material - Vegan leatherette.  Harder to clean.
Extra space - exterior pockets are thermo-insulated, interior zipper pocket, cell phone pocket, key ring clasp.  

Sarah Wells:
Cost - $145
Material - Faux leather.  Harder to clean.
Extra space - Exterior pockets for bottles, interior zip pocket, padded pocket for iPad or small laptop.  

To me, the lower cost, spaciousness, and ease of cleaning made it an easy decision that the Nurse Purse was the most practical choice.  Like the others, it also has sufficient interior room for a cooler or baby items, and can transform to a tote when you are done pumping.  

I got the opportunity to try one out, and it is everything promised and more.  The spot for the pump in the front pocket is big enough that you can leave the Medela pump in its canvas case and still have storage space for the cord and plug.  You don't have to disassemble the whole thing every time you are done pumping - which, for a mama exclusively pumping, can be up to 12 times a day.  

There is awesome attention to detail in this bag.  My favorite part is that there is a little spot for a photo of your baby inside the zippered area for your pump - this tiny little addition aids in letdown, which is an added bonus for mom.   The canvas and cotton exterior is not only practical, but the brand has by far the most fun designs of the off-the-rack pump bags.  

My laptop fits perfectly in the exterior pocket, so this will be an easy bag to use when I return to work; I can get work done while pumping.  There is also just a ton of storage inside, due to the bag's size - I have an entire box of breast milk storage bags, pump parts, and much more inside of this bag, and still have ample room for more.

All in all, I think this is a great, efficient bag.  Of the three off-the-rack options for a pump bag I looked at, this one is the most economical, spacious, and practical.