Mommy Review Monday: Pottery Barn Fairfax Pre-K Toddler Backpack

For the girls’ birthday last year MaMa got the littles backpacks since they’d been trying to steal the bigs’ bags and backpacks for a few months.  After all, what toddler doesn’t like bags???

These Fairfax Pre-K backpacks have been FANTASTIC.  They are the perfect size for the littles and they LOVE to carry them around.  Without further ado, here’s my review (because I know you always want my opinion):

Pottery Barn Fairfax Pre-K Toddler Backpack Front

Pottery Barn Fairfax Pre-K Toddler Backpack with Names

Pottery Barn Fairfax Pre-K Toddler Backpack Straps and padding

Pottery Barn Fairfax Pre-K Toddler Backpack Padding

Pottery Barn Fairfax Pre-K Toddler Backpack Pockets

Pottery Barn Fairfax Pre-K Toddler Backpack Pockets

What I like about them:

  • They have their names on them (see above).  Some people don’t like to have kids’ names on their backpacks and things for safety reasons and, as much as it may seem like I don’t care about my kids, I’m not worried about this for my toddlers.  They’re not going to go with a stranger just because someone knows their name…. The older kids might, but not toddlers who cower behind us even when we see a family member we’ve not seen in a few weeks.  Plus, we find thta people appreciate their labeled backpacks even more when your littles are twins since, despite ours being opposites in almost every way possible, they still get mixed up.
  • Ours are color coded- Kate is pink and Clara is purple (just like the most of their color coded stuff from our Phibian shoes to stuffed animals and doll clothes).
  • The stripes are nice vs. another pattern because there’s no battle over whether Clara has a unicorn and Kate has a rainbow…or whatever their flavor of the moment is.  Plus, stripes are classic.  I feel like this is a huge benefit over the super-cute but not so classic choices in the Mackenzie lineup, also from Pottery Barn.
  • They’ve held up great- despite being thrown down, stepped on, over-loaded, spilled on, and dragged around quite frequently.  And they still look good- even if they could use a good scrubbing.  Judge me if you like but I’m lucky if my kids are all clean, let alone their backpacks spotless.  The straps are very important because cheaper bags will wear out faster, especially with a lot of wear, on and off, that toddlers will inevitably do.
  • They’re the perfect size for toddlers- our girls just turned two when they got theirs and I’m guessing we won’t need to upgrade for a long time.  Ours are constantly holding a half-pack of wipes, 3-4 pull-ups or diapers, a change of clothes, a toy, a squeezy, and a granola bar with a sippy cup in the side pocket.  These have virtually eliminated the need for us to carry a diaper bag with two times everything.

Fairfax Dimensions

  • They’re water-resistant (and juice and milk).  This is also super-important since spills abound in our household (and in my car).
  • They have adjustable straps, which is great as they grow.
  • They have a front pocket for small things (our girls like to put flash cards, dinos, and/or little ponies in them).  These have a place for crayons, which would require us to keep up with them and you must know that doesn’t happen around here by now.
  • They have well-padded shoulder straps and back padding- cheaper toddler backpacks often skimp on this feature.  See above picture.  This only matters if you plan on your little one carrying these for more than a few minutes.  Ours have carried theirs for up to an hour at a time and I attribute that to them being comfortable.  The more they carry, the less you have to.
  • You can get other items that match- lunchboxes and water bottle for those of you who are matchy-matchy like I tend to be.  Our littles weren’t in need of a lunch box but when we’re ready to move up to the next size, we may get matching lunch-boxes but probably not water bottles since those seem to disappear from their special pockets. I sure don’t want a fancy, personalized water bottle to be left somewhere other than the handy pocket they’re perfectly sized for.
  • They have reflective piping on them.  You can sort of tell from the first photo above.  As a safety-nerd, I love this for those moments when one or two of my munchkins escapes into the dark….not that we ever have to deal with that…..
  • They’re very reasonably priced- especially right now as they gear up for back-to-school.  $19 for the backpack and $9.50 for the personalization.  While that may seem like a lot to some for a toddler’s backpack, consider how much they’ll carry them if you use them instead of a diaper bag like we do with ours.  Unless something changes, we figure they’ll use these until they go to Kindergarten, which is at least another two years.  That comes out to be less than a penny a day….

Fairfax Backpack checkout

What I would improve (but not deal-breakers):

  • They could use a slightly larger side pocket.  It’s rather tight getting a sippy cup in there, mostly in terms of it being “tall enough”.  In other words- it always looks like at any moment the sippy cup or water bottle may squeeze out.  You can see this from the picture above.  (Side note- the Mackenzie version looks like it might be slightly bigger.  If your little one has that version- see below- please comment and share)  In looking at the description, I don’t think the Fairfax is designed to hold a water bottle or sippy cup.  However, it works- just not as well as one would hope.
  • I wish it was machine washable.  I’m willing to guess that it might hold up to the washer but we’ve not parted with ours long enough to try (although you can clearly see they could use it).  If you’ve tried washing yours, please, please share your experience.  Again, this is wishful thinking as most backpacks are probably not going to claim to be washable- although I washed my good ol’ Jansport growing up multiple times before finally getting rid of it.  See my review of the Jansport backpacks, which my bigs will be carrying again this school year and I will soon be throwing in the wash.
  • I wish they’d put exterior connectors/metal loops onto the outside (like the small Fairfax backpacks have) or the actual straps that the Mackenzie version has.  We could use these to potentially on an extra baby doll or maybe a small blanket, although they’re actually designed to connect to their lunch box.  You could also use these with a carabiner to attach to your backpack or luggage fairly easily.

Overall, I just can’t say enough good things about these backpacks.  They really are a perfect gift for a toddler or pre-k student- one they’ll love AND their parents’ will love too since it won’t be another toy that takes up real estate.  So, thanks Mama!

Or if you’re getting ready to send your little one(s) to pre-k or you’re just flat tired of carrying all of their stuff for them, this is a great option, as are all of the Pottery Barn backpacks.  Plus, at the time of this post, they’re all on sale thanks to back-to-school season (even though its still July)…

Happy Mommy Review Monday!

Oh, and FYI- no one paid me or asked me to write this or gave me anything to try… although Pottery Barn, if you’re reading this, I’d be happy to take a few samples for my litter of littles.  Bahaha!

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Photo Friday: Independence Day 2018

We celebrated Independence Day this year with a shrimp boil at Aunt Haley’s House with the Graves family, minus Will and Anna, who were at Joe Daddy’s house for the holiday.

Aunt Haley had a sprinkler going, fully loaded bubble guns, and poppers (since we’re in a burn ban, plus two year olds and real fireworks aren’t always the greatest combo).

The girls sported their red, white, and blue outfits. Frugality tip: wait until a few days before the holiday and resale stores usually run great sales. We got these shirts for $1 each. New stores often do the same thing. My friend, Paige, scored adorable ones for $3.99 from either Gymboree or the Children’s Place (I can’t remember). Plus, unlike some of the other holidays, these are easier to wear throughout the year.

I love buying clothes from the resale store. It’s almost always in great shape and it makes me feel very “green.” You know, like I’m saving the world, one preowned outfit at a time?!? The downside to buying clothes at a resale shop is if you want your multiples or even singles to match, it’s not always easy. Every once in a while I’ll find two of something in the right sizes and I snatch them up. Even though I’m a “matchy-matchy mom,” I’m ok with them just coordinating to save a few bucks. Oh, the sacrifices I make to save money…

Or, if you really want to save money, just put your kid in clothes they already have. That works pretty well too and is obviously a lot easier!

Enough of the frugality tips…..

As you’ll see below, we had a fantastic, fun time on the 4th. So fun, in fact, we didn’t even stay awake long enough that evening to see any fireworks. Yet, even without the fireworks, it was still a wonderful day. I hope everyone had a great holiday as well!

Mommy Review Monday: ezpz Happy Mat – One-piece silicone placemat + plate

DISCLOSURE: Due to the recent iPhone update my i’s are now malfunctioning. I️ am NOT going back through to fix. I’m too frustrated. Sorry folks.

It’s borderline Migraine Monday instead of Mommy Review Monday so this will be a sort one today so I can get off to bed. I should apologize to those who get actual migraines because I️ realize my headache isn’t really a migraine since I️ can manage to look at the screen.

I’ll thank the black beans all over the floor and the screaming toddlers for the tension headache. With that said, I’ll move onto our review of the day, the ezpz Happy Mat, without which there would’ve been many more beans on the floor.

Pros:

  • Cost. $24.99 may seem like a lot but if you use I️t every meal, I️t pays for itself pretty quickly.
  • Hardiness. It’s made of silicone so you know it’s tough. And unlike your friends’ fake boobs, these don’t have to be hand-washed. You can stick them in the lower rack of your dishwasher time after time.
  • Dividers. Since so many kids are funny about not mixing foods, this is a great feature.
  • Protection. The full placemats give your table the armor it needs against banging silverware and/or sippy cups.
  • Stay-put-ness. I️ realize that’s a made up word but you get the point. No pates thrown across the room. As I️ said earlier, had we served black beans on a regular plate, they would’ve been everywhere. This plate-mat stayed in place throughout Clara’s mid-dinner temper tantrum.

Cons

  • Fit on High Chair Trays. They don’t fit on high chair trays. I️ know that’s not really what they’re made for so I️ really have a hard time declaring that a con but I️ do want to make sure no one assumes they’ll work that way. They do make a smaller version, the Mini Mat but it still may or may not work on your high chair tray.
  • Only Stick on Hard, Level Surfaces. Again, this seems common sense but they don’t stick or suction themselves down to fabric tablecloths or very unlevel surface. They’re still nice to use to protect your nice fabric tablecloth but there is the chance they could still move. We used a nylon table cloth at Halloween though and it still worked pretty well.

All together, these Happy Mats are what the brand name explains, ezpz. They’re a great gift idea, especially paired with these bibs. I’d buy another. In fact, I may buy another set for when one set is dirty. I’m not sure if that’s lazy or smart.

Happy Monday!!!

Tips for First Haircuts for Two Year Old Twins

Yesterday Clara and Kate got their first hair cut. As you can see below, their hair is quite different. Clara’s is brown, longer, has a hint of curl, and is a bit thinner. Kate’s is blondish, shorter, straight as a board, and a little thicker.

We needed to clean up Kate’s mullet (for a good laugh listen to The Ballet of Eddie Mullet) and Clara’s stringy-ness. So off to the mall we went since I trust the team at Regis with their hair. I honestly didn’t plan this more than a day out because I knew I’d find an excuse to not do it. Just call me the queen of procrastination.

Garen was out of town so I was going at it alone. Every once in a while I get the urge to do things with them like this by myself just to prove to myself that I’m capable. Sad? Maybe…

But I did get a few tips to share out of the experience for first haircuts with twins at two years old. Here they are, in no particular order:

  • Go somewhere they know you. This may sound trivial but the whole team at Regis knows me and my family, so they welcomed them in, which made the girls feel special. It did cost more than I typically would want to spend on a kids haircut but it’s better than having a freaked out kiddo.
  • See if they’ll give you a free chair for one of the girls to sit in and watch close by while the other gets her hair done.
  • Let them observe someone else getting their hair cut first so they can know what to expect.
  • Get them excited about it before you go.
  • Take toys like a drawing pad and little stuffed animals. We let the girls take their backpacks that have a couple of diapers and wipes each, small Sesame Street characters, and a chalkboard set from Aunt Haley, plus a snack catcher of Cheerios. Of that, I’d reconsider the Cheerios, which ended up going everywhere at some point. I’d probably do pretzels or veggie sticks.
  • Let them hold a comb or spray water bottle. This worked well to keep them occupied during the actual haircuts.
  • When the hairdresser needs them to look down to get the back of their hair, tell them to look at their belly button.
  • Make sure they’re high enough to see the mirror. They like to watch themselves.
  • Decide ahead of time if you want to keep a lock of their hair or not. If so, bring something to keep them in separately and label them ahead of time to make it easy.
  • I’ve seen a lot of friends who hold their kids if they’re too scared. This could be an option to consider the first time, although it does make it more difficult for the hairdresser.

My girls did great. It was actually way easier than I anticipated. Here’s a few photos from the experience. So serious always!Clara enjoyed lounging around until her turn!Kate enjoyed snacking too. This is the best we could do to get them both to look at the camera. Imagine that. You can see that now Kate has a bob instead of a mullet and Clara has bangs.

If you’re planning your kids’ or kiddos’ first haircuts, the above tips will likely help.

What other tips do you have? I can always use them for the next round!

Mommy Review Monday: Happy Healthy Parent Waterproof Silicone Bib

With my first two kids, I used Bumkins bibs and they’re great but I decided to try some the Happy Healthy Parent waterproof silicone bibs for the twins. 

Here’s what I like about them:

  • They come in a 2- pack with free shipping through Amazon Prime. 
  • The colors are cute: Clara’s is purple and Kate’s is pink. The other colors offered are red/blue and green/turquoise. 
  • They are thin enough to be very flexible and appear to be comfortable for the girls. 
  • They have adjustable closure that stays on, even when they yank on it. 
  • Cleaning them is a breeze. We actually stick ours in the dishwasher. The manufacturer’s description doesn’t say they are dishwasher safe but they’ve held up to being washed in the top rack of ours almost every night for the past few months without any signs of wear. 
  • They don’t take up much space if you travel with them. 
  • Catching stray food is made easier with the silicone pocket.
  • The price seems reasonable, at $18.97, since they’re so easy to use over and over again. 
  • They are free of BPA, Phthalate (not sure what this is but it was listed in the product description so it must be bad), Latex, and Lead. 
  • Happy Healthy baby is so confident in these that they offer a lifetime money back guarantee. I like that in a company. 

What could be improved:

  • The pink has stained a bit around the neck. I’m not worried about it enough to exchange them for that. In their defense, we eat a lot of carrots and sweet potatoes (and Kate is a messy eater) so it isn’t surprising that this would happen. Plus, we sometimes may not get them washed as fast as others may. 
  • This is really picky but if they could make one more adjustment to make them any smaller it would be nice. Clara is petite so she could’ve gone a notch smaller at first but it really wasn’t a huge issue and they’re perfect now. 

Garen and I both really like these. Enough that I’m about to buy a second set, just for the convenience of having some ready in the diaper bag. I’ll still buy the pink and purple, even if the pink stains a bit. 

Nursing Twins- Part 5: Nursing Two Older Babies

Clara and Kate are now 8 months old. It’s hard to believe….

Except for their nursing habits, which are much changed from the early days. Here’s what I’ve observed so far with nursing twins older than 6 months:

  • They have more trouble focusing. 
  • They still fit on the nursing pillow in the football hold for tandem nursing. It’s tight but it works. 

  • There is less room for them and one will sometimes grab the other. “You don’t need that eye, Kate” or “I love your hair, Clara. Let me grab a handful.”
  • They don’t nurse as long- probably 10-15 minutes max now. 
  • During the week they nurse at 6:00 AM, 6:00 PM, and before bed between 8:00- 9:00 PM. 
  • At work, I pump at lunch time to try to keep my supply up but it’s really getting old at this point, considering I only make about 8 oz. 
  • My milk supply is starting to slowly wind down. Part of this is that I’m losing weight, eating healthier. I doubt they’re getting much but I’m ok with it since they get plenty from their bottles during the day and have also started solids. (Check out my adventures of making my own baby food part 1 and part 2.) 
  • I’m working towards cutting out nursing and pumping during the day this month. I’ve got mixed feelings since I know that this are my last babies to nurse. 
  • Clara has two teeth and hasn’t bit me once. Kate has no teeth and has bit me twice. 
  • Occasionally, I get the pleasure of nursing one at a time. They don’t know what to do for a few seconds in the cradle position by themselves though. Then it clicks and they look up at me adoringly. I love the cuddles. It sure makes my decision to stop nursing them a hard one. 


Overall, I’m glad I’ve made it this far nursing twins and I’ve enjoyed the bonding but I also know it will be easier once we are finished. It’s always a challenge trying to balance priorities. I read a great post that helps with my “mommy guilt.” If you’re in a position like me maybe this all will help you. 

For more on nursing twins check out my other posts: