Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Introducing the Platinum Symphony™ DLX All-In-One Car Seat by Evenflo {Review}

As part of my participation in a sponsored campaign on behalf of One2One Network, I received a free Evenflo Platinum Symphony™ DLX All-In-One Car Seat to review. As always, all opinions stated below are my own.
Before I get into the review, I wanted to share some of the carseat's advertized features:
1. All-in-One Carseat- Accommodates children ranging from 5-110lbs, making it the only carseat you'll ever need.
2. OUTLAST® Performance Fabrics- Balances your child’s body temperature for a safer, more peaceful ride. OUTLAST® Performance Fabric absorbs hot and cold temperature, releasing as needed.
3. Buckle Pockets- Buckle Pockets neatly and smartly tuck the buckle tongues away — making it easier and safer to get a child in and out of the seat. No more digging around for lost buckles or hot buckle tongues during warm weather that can burn your child.
4. e3 Side Impact™- e3 Side Impact™ Protection significantly reduces the forces in side impact crashes through advanced energy absorption and an expanded zone of protection.
5. SureLATCH® Technology- Advanced LATCH Technology for a secure installation in seconds. Simply click the LATCH into your vehicle and push down to hear and feel the seat auto tighten. 
6. Infinite Slide™ Harness- Provides an easy, safe, accurate fit and eliminates any need for harness re-threading as your child grows.
7. Upfront Harness Adjustment- Easily adjust the 5-point harness from the front of the car seat, making it easier to get your child in and out.
8. Upfront Multi-Position Recline- Upfront multiple position recline for child’s comfort while asleep or awake.
9. Machine-Washable Pad- Easy-off, machine-washable car seat pad requires no harness re-threading
10. Cup Holder- Integrated, dual, cup holders for easy access to drinks.
11. Head and Body Pillow- Removable head and body pillow for additional comfort and support.

Now I will discuss some of these features from my point-of-view:

OUTLAST® Performance Fabrics

One of the first things I noticed when taking the carseat out of the box was how soft and comfortable the fabric feels. It turns out, this is no ordinary fabric. With the introduction of the Platinum Protection Series of carseats, Evenflo has incorporated NASA-developed Outlast technology, which regulates the temperature of the fabric to keep babies and toddlers comfortable during hot and cold weather. 
I obviously can't tell you how well this works since I don't sit in the carseat myself, but I can tell you that since installing this car seat in our truck, Eva hasn't complained about the seat being too hot or too cold when she gets in it. Since my husband and I only have one vehicle at the moment, I usually drive him to work at around 5:30am, and it has been very cold most mornings. I can usually keep Eva asleep between the bed and the truck, but sometimes when she was placed in her old carseat she would wake up and cry and complain about the seat being too cold for about half of the car ride before finally falling back asleep. Since installing this carseat, she hasn't complained once. I've even managed to keep her completely asleep throughout the transition. So, I think that's a good sign?

All I know is, the less Eva complains the less stressed out I am and the better able I am to focus on driving. Did you know that new moms are 300% more likely to get into an accident because of the distraction an upset baby can cause? If this fabric really does work, it can definitely help to ensure a safer, more peaceful ride for both mom and child and help prevent an accident from ever happening.


Buckle Pockets

This is one of my personal favorite features of the carseat. How annoying is it when you put your child in the carseat and then have to fish the buckles out for under her bum and behind her back? And how uncomfortable it must be for her when the buckles are too cold or hot... The buckle pockets are an easy solution to this problem and I really don't know why nobody thought of that sooner.


SureLATCH® Technology

This is the feature we had a little trouble with and is probably my only complaint about the car seat. We drive an F-150, which has a really nice, big backseat. The SureLATCH just barely worked for us. We really had to tug on the belt to get it to buckle in. And I guess this makes the carseat feel nice and snug and secure, but I'm a little worried about what it will do to the seats of my truck over time.

Infinite Slide™ Harness & Upfront Harness Adjustment
I have to say, this is one of the easiest carseats I've ever had to deal with as far as adjusting the straps go. Tightening and loosening the straps and adjusting them as your baby grows can be such a pain in the butt with some carseats. Evenflo has really figured out how to simplify things with this carseat.

Machine-Washable Pad
Just last  week Eva had an accident in her old carseat, and we had to take it out, spray it down and all that. (That's actually when we decided to finally install the new carseat we received from Evenflo.) A machine-washable pad is super convenient when you have a toddler who still has the occasional accident.

Cup Holder
What I really, really love about the cup holders in this carseat (besides the fact that there's TWO!) is that they aren't enclosed all the way around. Instead, there is a piece of elastic on either side. Do you know what this means? It means that when my toddler decides to mash bits and pieces of food and crumbs in the cup holder, I can easily wipe them off the side instead of having to dig and maneuver the wipe around, etc. I love this. My husband, on the other hand, doesn't like it at all. He'd rather clean the gunk out of the cup holder than let it fall around the rest of the car. I guess it's a matter of personal preference. I figure that if my daughter doesn't think her food will stay in the cup holder, she'll be less likely to stick in in there and more likely to just ask me to hold it for later.

Head and Body Pillow

This is another great feature of the carseat relating to comfort. The plushness of the seat is another thing I really liked about this carseat. There is so much more head support for Eva when she falls asleep in the seat.

So that's what I thought of the carseat. To read more about it or purchase one for your baby, click here to find it over at Babies "R" Us.

I'd like to thank Evenflo and the One2One Network for providing me with the car seat to review.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Mommy Blogger Collective: RAIN

I've always loved the rain.
Whenever I hear those first drops of rain hit the window, or feel them on my skin, I get butterflies in my stomach.
When it rains in Hawaii, waterfalls appear out of nowhere and rush down the mountains towards the sea.
I always felt so lucky to witness such a sight.
Rain slows down the wind and calms the waves, making them clean and glassy.
It also discourages some people from surfing, which is always a double plus.
Read More: Winter 2011 in Hawaii
Rain is both invigorating and destructive.
It sustains life and it destroys it.
Read More: Driving around in Hurricane Dolly.
Rain is beautiful in every sense of the word.
Read More: Karibu, April
I don't know about you, but I'm looking forward to April showers.
_________________________________________________________________
"Rain" is the April writing prompt of The Mommy Blogger Collective. In addition to a monthly writing prompt, the collective hosts a monthly blogger featurette. This month we are featuring Katie of Hello, Little Bean.
A few words from Katie --- Hi! I'm Katie and I write a blog called 'Hello, Little Bean.' It's about life as a new mom to my cute daughter, Lark Story. I'm California born and raised, but currently live in Michigan with my soon-to-be husband, James and my soon-to-be stepson, Brennan, as well as our little Lark and two kitties. I'm a full-time graphic designer who loves all things artistic and creative. I'm overly sensitive and sentimental, sarcastic and foul-mouthed at times, a foodie and a reality tv junkie who's completely and utterly in love with motherhood. You can also find me on instagram, facebook, pinterest and our little online boutique, Bold Threads. 
  /// The Mommy Blogger Collective /// Christina, Courteney, Dena, Erica, Erin, Gillian, Katie, Misty, Nicole, and RenĂ©e. ///

15/52 {pregnancy/baby/life updates}

Well the upside of experiencing [at least the tail end] of my first real winter is experiencing my first real spring. Cherry blossoms are blooming all over Northern Virginia. I really wanted to head into DC for the festival last week but I never got around to it. As you'll be able to tell from my weekly update, this week was pretty uneventful. It was busy spent running errands and trying to get last minute things ready for baby #2. According to the docs I'll be 39 weeks tomorrow, which is the week I had Eva! I still haven't seen any real signs of labor yet, though, so I'm not getting my hopes up. Plus, it'd be better if Damian waited until my sister-in-law gets here on Sunday. :)

Eva's latest obsessions are still her Hello Kitty Easter temporary tattoos and her KidKraft kitchen. Her Daddy gave her knuckle tattoos the other day, which we thought was pretty adorable. Eva has also been loving the Kid's Club at the gym lately. She actually requests to go there, and when it's time for me to get her she runs and hides. I'm so happy about this, because for some reason she started crying at the Kid's Club back in Texas and hated when I left her there. I hope this doesn't happen here.

Video of the Week:
video
1. Dad-o painting Eva's fingernails for the first time.
2. Eva on her favorite toy in the park. I really regret never getting her a rocking horse. I guess it's not too late.

On Tuesday (according to US) or Friday (according to dates) I turned 38 weeks pregnant! Chyeah! Still no signs of labor, though. I had another checkup on Wednesday and the baby hadn't appeared to move any lower. There was no internal exam performed, though, so I'm not sure if I've progressed at all in that area. I have been getting strong nesting urges (stronger than usual, at least). I'm really hoping he makes it on time!
I'm still lifting and running my three miles everyday. My time is very slow, but it's still a bit faster than what I could run at this point with Eva. And at least I meet the minimum requirements for a USMC female 3-mile run qualification. :) (Whatever I need to tell myself to make myself feel better). 
An even bigger accomplishment, I would say, is still wearing Eva everyday. Soon I'll be rockin two babies, I hope.
Babywearing at 38.5 weeks pregnant.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

A Letter to a Soon-to-be Big Sister


My Evita Pilar,

Any day now you'll officially earn the title "Big Sister," though your Daddy and I have been calling you that for months. We've been trying so hard to prepare you for all the changes you're about to experience. We've been reading you stories, letting you feel my belly, reminding you that there will be a "baby brudder" in the house soon.

I used to hear parents talk about how stressed they were to introduce a new baby to their only child. I remember thinking, "Your kid will be fine... get over it." It wasn't until I found myself in this situation that I realized how worrisome it can be. For the past two years, you've been the center of our universe. You haven't had to share our attention with anyone. Things will be very different soon. There will be a crying, needy newborn in the house. I won't always be able to respond to your requests to play or read a book right away. I won't be able to carry you as much as I used to. And I can't help but worry that you'll feel sad or left out. I know these are normal things to feel. I know that it's probably good for you to experience them and learn to deal with them sooner rather than later. Still, the thought of you ever feeling that way brings me to tears. You're my baby. I don't want you to ever be sad.

But deep down inside, I know you'll do fine. You're such a loving, caring person. You're so in tune with people's emotions and your heart is so big. It will be difficult for a while. It will be hard for all of us. But I know there will come a day when you can't imagine what life would be like without your baby brother. You two have so much in store.

Take it from me, a little brother is one of the best things in the world. Sure, he'll annoy you. A lot. You'll argue. You might even beat each other up. But as you grow you'll become the greatest of friends. You'll have so much fun together. You'll get in trouble together. You'll complain to each other about your father and me. You'll share secrets that we'll never know about. As people come and go, you'll have each other's backs forever.

And maybe you can't understand (or even read) any of this right now, but I want you to know that I'm doing the best I can to make this transition as easy as possible for you. Who knows. Maybe you'll surprise me and be super stoked about your brother from day one. But I'm guessing that you won't be, and that's okay. I don't expect you to be. Whatever your reaction is, I want you to know how much I love you. I never knew how much love I had in my heart until you came along, but I know now how much a heart is capable of expanding. There's no need to make room in there for your baby brother, so don't worry about that. You will always be my baby girl. My firstborn. My sidekick.

I just know that watching you settle into your new role as a big sister will make me so proud. I love you so much my little princess. As nervous as I am, I look forward to the days ahead.

Love,
Mama

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

An Afternoon in Manhattan

Last weekend we took a road trip up to New Jersey so that Daniel could get tattooed by a buddy of his who was visiting. While he was doing that, Evita and I took the NJ Transit Train to Manhattan, where we met up with one of my best friends in the world (from the age of like 12!). She's a chef at The Little Prince, a delicious restaurant in SoHo. It was so great to catch up with her and explore the area. We had brunch at Jack's Wife Freda, which was also pretty darn good. Jackie had to go into work, but first we stopped at The Evolution Store, a shop filled with skulls, taxidermy, and other neat things that are right up my alley. I loved it, but probably couldn't afford anything in there. Still, I saw some African masks that were being sold for around $400, which I already have (they're like $30 in Tanzania). Jackie and I parted ways and I met up with Daniel at Penn Station. We hit up Times Square, checked out a few stores, and then went back to SoHo to have dinner at Jackie's restaurant. Another really good friend of mine took the train down from Connecticut and met us there. It was amazing to be able to see two of my best friends in one day. It's definitely something I really have to look forward to about living on the East Coast. Everything seems so close (unless you're driving and count traffic, I guess). I look forward to more road/train trips like this one. Here are a few pictures from our day...

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Messy Marvin: Drop Zone {Review & Giveaway}

Today I'd like to introduce you to a new company that believes in less stress over mess. They're called Messy Marvin, and they have a whole line of products that are wipeable, convenient, and stylish. They range from placemats, bibs, dog beds, furniture covers, and floor mats, which I had the pleasure of reviewing today. 
The Messy Marvin "Drop Zone" floor mat measures 4x5 feet and can be placed under high chairs, kids tables, kitchen sink, or anywhere else a mess is likely to ensue.
The mat looks similar to a weave linen material, but it is actually made up of 100% lead-free polyester with a water and stain repellant coating. It is completely wipeable and rinsable and doesn't have to be washed in a washing machine. All you need to clean it is a little soap and water (or sometimes just a paper towel depending on what it is). The underside of the mat contains a lead-free PVC backing so that nothing soaks through to your carpet (or whatever is underneath). 
Not only is the mat great for messy meals and toddlers who haven't mastered the art of not knocking over a cup of juice, it's PERFECT for arts and crafts time. You can use play dough, crayons, and even finger paint without a care in the world.
Along with everything else I've mentioned, I love the sturdiness of the splat mat. It really feels like it's a quality product and will last a long time. It's a great thing to have around the house with a two-year-old. I can't believe I never had anything like it before.

If you like the idea of the splat mat, you should see all the other products Messy Marvin has to offer. You can find them on their website, and now at Nordstrom as well.

...and now you have a chance to win a Drop Zone splat mat of your own (a $99 value)!

Enter using the Rafflecopter widget below.
The winning entry will be verified. If it can't be verified, a new winner will be chosen.
The winner will be contacted via email. If the winner doesn't respond within three days, a new winner will be chosen.
Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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