Friday, April 10, 2009

My First Product Review and Recommendation

So we went on a bike ride yesterday morning for four hours with our three year old, "Princess Penelope Poopsie", in tow in the bike trailer cause frankly, it was a damn fine morning to do so. My crotch literally feels right now, like it did the day I gave birth to that same three year old. Even though I was numb from the waist down from morphine and shots of local anesthesia, I know eminent pain is going to follow suit after the "high" has long disappeared.

Anyway.... I threw my legs over my trusty Cannondale bike and as I rode I began to think about how long I've had this bike and the fact that the last time I really did any real riding on this thing was when the twins were about a year old. Yes, I have literally ridden this thing less than 10 times since then. But I can still ride like the best of em; or so I thought!

I have had this thing for a long time; about 13 years to be exact. I don't feel so bad for paying so much for it back then, because it has lasted just fine being stored up in several garages and storage centers since then.

So we've moved a lot in 11 years; so freaking what!

I'm thinking how smooth the brakes still are; how cushy the seat still is (at that point in time it was - but NOT four hours later); and what good overall condition this sucker is in. It started me thinking as I rode about all the product reviews and recommendations that I see on many, oh so many blogs these days.

This ride got me thinking about doing my own reviews/recommendations based on what I know to be tried and true. Sometimes, who needs to know about all the new shit; there's so much of it that it's getting too confusing to keep up with anymore. We need someone who has maneuvered through the many years it takes to prove that some of this established stuff is still worth purchasing.

Mine recommendations are based on being well used and time tested by four Neanderthal-like kids, ages 3-11, one neurotic dad, and one constantly tired out, half-insane mom. Think of a "Samsonite" product test on about..... 6 shots of espresso; and then we'll review it to see if still intact, usable, or worth the few extra bucks we need to extract from our ever-shrinking wallets these days.

I'll let you be the judge.

Graco Tot-Loc Chair

This sucker has been a life and a space saver for us. We have had this since the twins were about a year old. Let me tell you, we use to drag around those over-sized white elephants called "high chairs" until I found this on a now defunct website called We use to have two of them until my husband thought one of them was best left in a Chinese restaurant in Dothan, Alabama. That place is now defunct too.

These hook up nice and easy to just about any table. Just make sure it's not one of those flimsy type tables like one we owned one time. It wasn't that tall, thank God, cause Julian's butt hit the floor with a big thud. He actually laughed and wanted to do it again. I, on the other hand, was laying beside him in the corner, sucking my thumb and suffering from a mild heart attack from the ordeal.

They are also great to take along to just about any restaurant of your choice. If the table there seems flimsy too, just take another chair and scoot it under the Tot-Loc chair, stuff your designer hobo bag between the two and you're good to go - or eat - or whatever. Just don't plan on taking them to one of those four or five star places. They don't take kindly to rearranging the china and crystal to make room for a portable high chair on their over-priced, frou-frou linen tablecloths. In fact, if the place doesn't supply high chairs, you're better off using it at home with some pizza delivery.

But in a place that does supply them. Remember, if you don't have one of these, come prepared with a whole pack of disinfectant wipes! Hell, bring three or four packs because, I don't know about you, but I did catch that episode on 20/20 (I think that was it), about all the freaking germs on public high chairs. Just the thought of a few E-Coli strains crawling on my toddler's fingers makes me wish I could fit my kids into these things until they were 18!

Actually, that would be a pretty damn funny sight to see; especially on high school graduation day!

But these are easy to clean; just take them outside, pour some bleach over it and hose it down. Nothing to disassemble, and no instructions to hunt out of some unused drawer in the house to figure how to put the freaking high chair back together - safely. They come with a 3-way locking waist strap that no little bugger can wriggle their way out of. It also easily folds flat for those last minute trips to a restaurant when mom or dad happens to burn dinner that night.

You can see by the pictures that these have stood the test of time of 11 years and four kids. It was actually in pristine condition up until a year ago when our three year old decided to "redecorate" it a bit. She said she was tired of the "wallpaper" and wanted to change it to just pink. Well, ripping it off does change it, but not necessarily for the better. Since we needed for at least another year, and we just happen to be out of hot pink duct tape that day, he opted for packing tape left over from one of our moves. At least we can still see the design a little longer just for memories sake.

I highly recommend this for any mother or father looking for an alternative to the cumbersome space-hog high chairs. I might I add that high chairs still haven't come in any decent design themes that I would proudly display in my kitchen or dining room. These Tot-Loc chairs will run you anywhere from $20-$50 depending on make and model, and who is having a sale or not. Ebay would be your best bet.

By the way, the old white elephants we had were left behind in one of the storage centers that the bike also sat in.

Weleda Calendula Diaper Rash Cream

This all started from, what else, a bad case of diaper rash. The twins were about 1 (again), and they both decided they would get the worse, and really, the only case of diaper rash at the same time. Remember, if you have multiples, it's ALWAYS about over coming challenges - double, triple time (well, you get the idea)!

Well I spent a couple of days slathering that Desitin stuff all over their tiny little butts, and managing to get more on me than them. God that stuff is so hard to get off. Takes about a half a bar of soap to clean it off my hands and then I had to turn around and spread more gobs of the stuff on them, and then spend another half hour or so getting it off of me; constantly repeating this process for two days. This was doing nothing to rid them of the burning butt curse, and it was wasting an enormous amount of time as well.

I had pulled out our newest copy of Homeopathy for Pregnancy, Birth, and Your Baby's First Year (another recommendation as well), looking for an alternative to this crap I was using. It suggested I use calendula for a diaper rash. So I was off with the twins as fast as I could, hobbling down three flights of stairs at our apartment, holding two babies, two diaper bags, and my purse somewhere in between. I think my car keys were in my teeth.

"No, my husband could not help me cause he was in class that day".

At the local Whole Foods market, I came upon a nice smelling diaper rash cream made by Weleda. It had calendula as the main ingredient and it was just about the only thing I saw in the category I was needing. I bought two of the biggest tubes they had; after all, I have two fire engine red asses to deal with here.

I got home and gave them the typical "eliminate the rash" bath, then gently dried them, then covered their bare butts with about three coats of this stuff. My God! By that evening, 3/4 of their rash was gone! Not just light, but dead freaking gone!

I was sold from right then. I have never used anything since. I have used it until the tube was cracking and leaking from the edges; never wasting a drop. It has worked with minor burns the kids got from helping me cook, and also through Nadia's anti-underwear phase when she was three. But that is an entirely different story and a weird toddler phase.

I have sold so many moms on this stuff that I should actually own a piece of the company. Isn't that called stock or something???? Anyway, it is another time tested product that no mom with small kids should be without. It costs about $8-$10 depending on the size of tube you get. Unfortunately, it's only available at health food stores at the moment because I think Desitin has cornered the market here with the corporate-run pharmacies.

Hylands's Homeopathic Chamomile Tablets or Homeopathic Teething Tablets - 30x dosage

Let me say this first about this product: you will be giving this to your kids AND to yourself until the day they leave for college! I was quite skeptical of these when my husband brought it home to me one day when the twins first started teething. After all, how on earth could these little white tablets end all their pain and suffering? I was freaking amazed at how well it ended the fussies over teething, plus it knocked their ass out just when nap time rolled around.

I cannot tell you the amount of moms that have literally bowed to me, or hugged me and cried after I turned them onto this stuff. I recently went to a house where this mom was trying to show me an antique china cabinet while tending to a hysterical child suffering from teething. We've all been there and so we know the scene, so I really don't have to go into detail since we are all really trying to block it from our memories.

But I told her about these tablets and where to get them. Though I didn't buy the cabinet, she still sent me an email raving about how wonderful this stuff was. She also told me she went back and bought out every single bottle that the Walgreen's had in stock. I guess she was pretty desperate.

They are relatively easy and very safe to use. Take the tablets and crush them between two fingers and rub them on the gum's of small children. As they grow and can swallow easier, they can take them under the tongue until they melt (takes about 1 minute). The cost depends on where you buy them. Go for the big 125 tablet bottle or you'll find yourself running out to the pharmacy every other day to keep an ample supply in your house.

As I said, they are not JUST for teething. This stuff is great for the terrible two's phase, or as in my case, the terrible three's. The moment you recognize the tantrum coming on, give them a few of these; it'll turn them into the child that you fantasized having all during your pregnancy. You can adjust the dosage according to the tantrum level. Just don't give them the whole freaking bottle out of extreme desperation!

See, the main ingredient, chamomile, is a natural calming element. It is completely safe for all ages. Hell, I've had a few bad days where I've taken about a tablespoon and I'm feeling like Fairy Foo-Foo and happy as a lark! And it comes in handy too on those days that your hubby comes home extra cranky from work. Martini's are so 1960's.

Now, I have to go and sit on a bag of ice for awhile as you contemplate these few reviews and recommendations. Sitting here and writing this has become quite uncomfortable as I am opting to hang, by my feet, from the ceiling fan right now as oppose to sitting or standing at the moment.

Please feel free to leave your comment and your experiences with these, it will help a whole lot of stressed out moms who are looking for ways to make life less like an insane asylum at their homes.

Oh, another recommendation; no four hour bike rides unless they come up with a seat that has adjustable air pockets than can be modified to the length of your bike tour. Or, until you've reached crotch-callous riding status!


Gondooo said...

I had one of these seats and it was a life saver. I hate highchairs not only because they are so disfunctional but also because (like the carseats) you have to take out a small loan to buy one. It was a lifesaver with JJ twenty yrs ago, and when my second son Calum came around 10 yrs ago I searched in vain here in the UK and just could not find one.
The nappy rash Calum had (poor child) remained with him throughout his infancy and not even prescription stuff did the trick. Even to this day he still gets it not only in the crotch but in his armpits (or oxters as they call them here LOL). I will actively seek some of this stuff out as so far nothing has worked for the poor child.
Never had a prob with the teething thing. Well, not much anyhow. I will certainly pass this info onto JJ as I'm sure he will be needing it now for my brand new granddaughter!
BTW if you are interested, CIAO and Toluna are sites where you can post your reviews (and do surveys) and earn money doing so. I can send links to anyone interested... so I's can earn a few extra for myself! :D
Great reviews, and very much appreciated.

Ronda Hayes said...

Very informative story. I don't have infants any longer parading my house and the grandkids are potty trained and they still can get a rash but I definitly will pass the info to friends that have small kids. Your experience with children is interesting. I remember us as kids and it's weird that we now have our own. Your stories are funny and refreshing...thanks for sharing your life.