Thursday, July 11, 2013

Baby Flipple

Baby Flipple getting ready for use after a 3.3 mile hike into a forest service cabin in Alaska

I was quite nervous flying with my 3 month old.  I used my frequent flier miles to upgrade to first class.  In my mind, the people and staff would be nicer in the front of the airplane.  I stayed up all night worrying and packing extra diapers and extra wipes.  My son ended up nursing and sleeping the entire flight.

I think there is a scientific calculation that points to the conclusion that children are easiest on airplane flights at birth.  The difficulty increases sharply until a child reaches age five and then it levels off a bit.

[There is no actual scientific data on this topic currently available as
 no scientist would voluntarily take a group of children onto an airplane] 

Did you forget your baby bottle at the playground?  At least you have the Flipple in your bag!

Feeding is often a fear for new parent fliers. If you breastfeed, a privacy cover and pillow to put under your elbow is all you really need.  For those parents that bottle feed, it is a bit more difficult as there are bulky bottles, cans of formula and cleaners.

A mother-inventor sent me a box of Baby Flipples and I think these could help all the parents traveling this summer.  The Flipple allows you to fill a plastic water bottle with your formula and water.  You can then clean the bottle for future use or toss it into the recycling bin. 

-About the Flipple-
Flipple is a multi-positional adaptor that can be attached to bottled water as a funnel so formula can easily be added. When it is flipped and re-applied, baby’s favorite nipple can be added thus turning bottled water into a baby bottle. The seal is between the nipple and the water bottle so it is guaranteed not to leak. You are already carrying bottled water and baby bottles – why not leave the baby bottles at home… on purpose!  (from Flipple Facebook Page)

Here is some information from the manufacturer of the Flipple:
  • Baby bottle on the go - never take a baby bottle from the house again
  • Turns bottled water into a baby bottle
  • Funnel allows any powder to easily be added to almost any bottled water
  • Avoid any emergency feeding situation by always carrying a Flipple
  • Innovative thread design allows this adapter to fit almost all domestic bottled waters
  • Currently 5 Flipples for about $15.00 on Amazon
A bit past the bottle feeding stage, but still enjoying sipping cool water in a controlled manner!
My boys typically help test products, but they are far from nursing.  Nonetheless, I let them give it a go!  

For the older child, the Flipple allows a child to use a plastic water without the typical spillage down the shirt.  It allows an adult to squirt the water directly into a child's mouth thereby keeping everyone hydrated, but without the typical shared germs.  They loved squirting each other on a hot day and watering our plants without flooding the poor seedlings.
This little guy enjoyed chewing on the cold water in the Flipple

 Of course, the Flipple is designed for the younger set.  One tester said that she wished she had the Flipple on her last plane ride.  The flight sat on the tarmac for over an hour and the bottles sat nicely in the terminal far from the hungry baby.  She has since kept a Flipple in her bag as she can always find a water bottle. 

Another tester brought her Flipple on a long hike with her two kiddos.  She said the funnel helped corral the formula into the bottle nicely (she cleverly measured out the formula into small re-sealable snack bags).  The baby took a couple of sucks before taking the bottle as the nipple was slightly different from her usual.

Flipple along the edge of Lake Eklutna
All of my testers had a little trouble getting the top to screw onto the waterbottle. It seems to not be seated correctly, but it is sealed when turned upside down. Even when I kept screwing the top, it did not break. It also stood up to testing by my two rough kiddos.

I liked the top that covered the nipple so it stayed clean when tossed into the bottom of the stroller or backpack.  One tester said she liked how small and compact the Flipple is for travel. The mother-inventor of the Flipple said that she is hoping to come out with a toddler sippy type top in the near future.

I give the Flipple my Alaskan Mom Approval.  It can help the bottle fed baby go on hikes, camping trips and rafting adventures without the need for extra bottles (lots of weight for the parents to carry!).  It is durable and has many uses beyond feeding (watering plants, water fights and even creative painting perhaps!). 

Monday, December 17, 2012

Kalamazoo boots by KEEN

 Review of the Toddler Kalamazoo Boot by KEEN!
(We LOVE Them!)

Carrots and Keens - a perfect combination
I really wanted sandals by KEEN when rafting on the Tuolumne River in California.  I kept jamming my toes on rocks, while my mother's toes stayed bruise free inside her KEEN watershoes.  Oddly enough, I thought KEEN only made shoes for rafting and boats!  I came across these Kalamazoo boots and am smitten.
Today, it was zero degrees
My son, D, inherited lots of great things from me, but he also seems to have gotten my cold extremities (and ability to trip on flat surfaces).  Our fun often ended due to crying from cold toes.  These boots paired with wool socks are perfect for teens and above.  When colder, I just use the adhesive toe warmers to keep them even more toasty.   They are lined with KEEN's charcoal bamboo (from their website: KEEN.WARM is a lightweight, anti-microbial insulation that provides warmth where you need it most.)
Great boots for a playground
These boots are not bulky like the typical winter bunny boots.  I love how close they sit to the leg.  While the bulkier boots can provide more warmth, they often making walking and playing difficult.  These boots have both a waterproof breathable membrane and a waterproof leather and textile upper.  Amazing combination if you live in a climate offering lots of snow, ice and melting snow!

Great tread and traction
They also have amazing tread on the bottom.  He doesn't slip as much as his older brother (it sort of levels the playing field just a bit).  I like how they don't collect snow between the ridges.  Apparently, these soles have a bit of a magical quality: "The KEEN Dual Climate Rubber outsole hardens in cold weather to bite into packed snow."(per KEEN website)  I told you it was magical!
Boots never fell of as they climbed on this wood pile
My older son's boots often get pulled off when climbing through trees, while going sledding down a hill and even just walking in deep snow.  During the month long testing of these boots, these KEENs did not even come off one time.  I love that.  The miserable whine of a child who steps out of a boot into wet snow is something I hope you don't have to experience.  Especially if you are a ways from your car!

Great velcro near the top of the boot and ankle
The strong velcro is amazing at keeping the boots on the foot.  You can also adjust the fit quite a bit.  I usually have D wear one pair of wool socks and his long johns inside of the boot and his fleece pants outside. There also is room inside for toe warmers.
We love these boots!
The suggested retail cost for the Kalamazoo is $75.00, but I found prices ranging from about $45 or $80 on the internet.  My reviews usually say that I love the product, but think they are overpriced.  Wait for it...  These are worth the price.  Seriously, you can't put a price on boots that are well made (my nephew is going to get these in a bit) and keep your kid's toes toasty.

I do have to provide some balance to the review though. While my son can get on his other boots without help, he needs assistance getting these on properly.  I would also like to be able to stuff his fleece pants inside the boot as well.  I have had trouble in the past with Velcro losing its stick and hope this stuff holds!  That is it.  Those are the only problems. 

These minor issues don't hold me back from a positive review.  I give the KEEN Kalamazoo my Alaskan Mom Approval as they keep my kid's toes warm, don't fall off, are durable and made by KEEN (a company with great customer service!).  Visit their site to get a bit more information and browse their boots for yourself (tons of fantastic styles!!!).

**KEEN sent these boots for a full review of my opinions (be they good or bad) at no charge**

Monday, March 19, 2012

Gorilla and Cheetah by Eszterhas

For my children’s books, I gravitate towards titles about Alaska.  I love traditional stories with an Alaskan twist, such as The Alaskan Three Pigs (complete with a dog mushing, an igloo and huffing brown bear).  We have books about animal tracks and learning to count with Alaskan Animals (seven red crabs eating stinky bait).  

When my children called a zebra a moose and a water buffalo a musk ox, I thought I might need to broaden their horizons a bit.  I was offered the chance to review books by a wonderful photographer.  Before accepting, I found the website for the author (and photographer) Suzi Eszterhas.  After a half hour browsing these pictures, I asked the publisher to send them as soon as possible.
(I received Gorilla and Cheetah for review and they are both available on Amazon for about $15.00.)
While the storyline reads like a children’s book, the photographs could be in National Geographic.  It is nice to have a book that both my children and I enjoy reading at night.   Both books have a story that shows a baby animal growing up, they interject new vocabulary (boisterous, perch and groom).  The books also teach you about the animals through the story itself, rather than in a pedantic fact by fact lesson. I like that they have enough woods to make for a good bed time story, but my children don’t loose interest. 
The books also have a page at the end with more facts.  While my son’s didn’t enjoy this page, I learned quite a bit and will clean up on Jeopardy if the category is Gorilla sleeping habits (they don’t sleep in the same bed every night, but make a new nest each evening) or Cheetah’s drinking behavior (they can do without drinking water for 3-4 days).  

I was happy to learn that these books are part of a series called, Eye on the Wild, that also has Lion and Brown Bear.  I am going to add Brown Bear to my children’s Alaska book collection soon (it is not released yet).  I can’t wait to see what images the photographer produces for that book. 
I give these books my Alaskan Mom Approval and recommend them to any animal loving family.  The combination of photography and engaging storyline make these a regular in our bedtime story rotation.  The hardback cover and thick, glossy pages will also keep it in our library for a while to come as well.  Even if it will be a few years before my children can read this themselves, I will enjoy reading to them about the nursing baby Cheetah and piggybacking Gorilla (their two favorite parts) as we cuddle before bed.  

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Stabilicers Lite

Ice fishing on a 30 degree day is a true test for a traction device.  The inch deep standing water had people slipping and splashing to their spots.  My son was giving the Stabilicers a test run and had no problem maneuvering around the hole and chasing after the flopping Arctic Char.  

I was so happy to find the company, 32 degrees North, and their new toddler sized grippers.  The Anchorage Outdoor Family Network recommends grippers for our winter hikes, especially when carrying children in a backpack.  The young hikers often slip and slide and are forced into sleds when trails are iced over.  No more!

Prior to the Stabilicers, I tried the smallest women’s size of ice grippers on my son’s boots.  They inevitably fell of midway through a hike only to be found along the trail on the way back.  These toddler sized grippers are an XS and indicate a will fit for US sizes 1-3.5 or EU sizes 32-35.

The Stabilicers easily attached to his boots (size 12), but were a little large for my younger son’s size 9 boots.  I put his toe into the gripper, pulled it over his heel and then pulled up the sides around his boot.  It was easy for me to do while wearing mittens!  
I never understood the absence of toddler grippers on the market.  It seems that this company realizes that little hikers (and ice fisherman) need traction as much, if not more than, adults.  The Pink, Blue and Black colors are nice if you have order two of different sizes (so you can easily tell the sizes apart!).  
The low price of $14.95 is wonderful and within reach of most families.  Click through this link to order some now!  I was trying to think of problems or negatives with these and came up empty.  They are sturdy, easy to use and very reasonably priced.   The only problem is that I haven’t seen them in Anchorage stores yet.  Most outdoor stores here do carry their other products and might soon carry these!

I asked my son about why he liked the grippers and he said, “Because they let me walk on the ice.”  Such a simple statement and so true!
Without hesitation, I give the Stabilicers Lite XS my Alaskan Mom Approval.  The grippers let young hikers conquer icy trails, give toddler ice fisherpeople traction (keeping them dry and out of the hole) and are easy for parents to put on and remove (while wearing mittens!).  Fantastic product!!
Thank you 32 degrees North for sending us a pair of Stabilicers to test out on the trails and ice of Alaska!  

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Level Naturals

From their website:

We are also committed to offering you products that are made with the best quality, gluten free, cruelty free, all natural ingredients that are actually good for you. We will never use parabens, sulfates, toxic preservatives or anything else that contributes to damaging your health. 

We believe that you can change the world just by showering with us. Yep, we're that awesome, and so are you.

-How could you not want to buy a product from a company this cool?  A few of us were able to test out a few of their products.  Here is what we had to say!

One lady had a doozy of a cold and used the bath bombs: I loved the bath bombs! They were just powerful enough to do the job, but not too overwhelming to my sensitive nose. I also appreciate the care and ethics under which they are created.

I actually needed to buy soap that same day, so I was glad to be offered a HUGE bar for testing purposes.

--My beauty routine has taken years to hone and perfect.  Chapstick and Lotion.  I hate to have itchy and tight skin.  I bring lotion camping, fishing, hiking, snow boarding and camping.  I thought I needed lotion as an essential item, but I was wrong.  Apparently, I just needed to ditch my old soap (which was whatever I had around).  
My friend received samples from Level Naturals and I was lucky enough to be given a bar of Tangerine Spearmint (I had to resist the urge to take a bite).  I love the directions on the back: “Get wet, rub it on, lather it up, scrub the day’s crud off, repeat and experience frequently.”  This company has a sense of humor!
The bar is hefty and easy to hold in the shower.  It lathers quickly and covers easily.  I love that with a quick rinse, all the soap is gone without any residue or slimy feeling.  I have been using it on my whole body (face to toes) and am hooked.  I don’t have to rush to the lotion bottle immediately upon exiting the shower.  It removed both the slime and smell from salmon and also the sweat from a wonderful 2 hour cross country ski outing.  
The bar does cost $8.50, but it is a large bar with quality ingredients.  Instead of putting chemicals and fillers onto my body, this bar covers me with natural (and Gluten free) ingredients that were only tested on humans.  This product is wonderful for the dry winters in Alaska!
Thank you Level!  

Here is an added review for their wonderful body butter and strange sounding Dragon Blood Soap!

So many people think that Vegans have perfect skin at all times- not so for me! Living in Alaska has taught me that no matter what your diet happens to consist of, you sometimes need help in the moisture department.  I am constantly changing the combination of soap and moisturizer I use to ensure that I do not resemble some sort of reptile (of which there are precious few in residence).
The opportunity to try Level Naturals Spiced Dragon Blood Soap and Original Body butter was a dream. I wanted to trial both for a month to see how my skin tolerated and reacted. I have extremely sensitive skin, and appreciate the use of all natural ingredients that are cruelty free! I am happy to report that not only did my skin drink in the yummy sent and ingredients of both, they actually helped my skin to stay moisturized throughout the day. 
While the name of the Spiced Dragon’s Blood soap can bring about visions of medieval times, it is really just a clever name to help capture the essence of spices.  They were able to capture the essence of the ever-popular incense with a warm, inviting soap.  If you are an ingredient scrutinizer as I am, the fact that there are a myriad of moisturizing ingredients is a great goody. It left a light scent on my skin that was just the right touch, rather than being completely overpowering.

The Original body butter was something that I was a bit skeptical about. Body butters and I typically have a love/hate relationship, in that, they are usually too greasy or not moisturizing enough.  Worse, many are laden with overpowering scents. This was definitely not the case! My almost-two-year-old was always happy to get his evening post bath massage using it. He also would seek it out after a long jaunt outside to help moisturize his hands (and mine). 
Overall, Level naturals had two excellent products that I was fortunate enough to try and review. I would highly recommend them to any Alaskan. With their ethical practices, pure formulas and minimal packaging, they are a sure-fire winner.

Sunday, November 27, 2011


 (toddler hat modeled by my 2 year old)

January Baby's Website

We have been stuck in the single digits for quite some time now with dips below zero and only a few ventures into the elusive double digits (woo, we hit 10!).  I shouldn't complain as my friends up in Fairbanks and Denali have been stuck below -30.  Who knew that could happen?

Unless you enjoy being locked in a cage with wild animals, you will have to take the kids outside.  Most kids will let you stick a hat on their hand and even boots on their feet, but it seems a large proportion of children balk at coverings on their hands.  I know it is hard to grab a snowball when your thumb is pinned to your hand, but come on children it is cold!

This is exactly the predicament faced by the developer of the Smittens.  She needed a way to make inexcapable hand coverings for her child.  These mittens basically are connected by a scarf that goes along the arms and over the back.  Since my children didn't have a problem with mittens, I was able to pass these along to some women in my crew who really needed them.
(picture from website)

Waterproof Smittens with Thumbs - reviewed by a mother new to Alaskan winters! ($36)

What a great product! I have to admit that going outside in single digit weather I was a bit nervous on how to keep my little guy’s hands covered. I’d already tried the cute baby mittens found at chain stores- but they barely made it out of the car before being torn off so I’d resorted t to covering his entire arm in a sock. I was given a set of Smittens to try at play group and all bundled in fleece we donned the waterproof Smittens and a snowsuit before hitting the white stuff. After a good hour outside the Smittens were still on and his fingers were all warm and dry. Success! I have to admit that he was wearing a size up so they were a little more like end caps- but I’m happy it means we’ll be able to use these mittens for future winters as well and they won’t come off no matter how much he pulls or bites them. My only issue was the bulk around his wrists and trying to squeeze his arms through the jacket- but I think that’s just the curse of having to wear so many layers in Alaska.  

Smittens - these are a wonderful fleece material and since they have no thumb opening, they are easy to put on a child! ($18 or $24 with the thumb)

Reviewed by a very active mother who loved the mittens:

"The greatest thing about the scarf/gloves is that the gloves
stay on really well.  I put the scarf/gloves on before the
jacket and my son's hand slips through the arm hole in his coat
easily.  I also like that the glove material is long enough to
cover most of his arm, adding an extra layer for warmth and
ensuring that the glove is not going to fall off. I love the idea
of having both connected.  

While the Smittens seem to be the trademark item, the following products should not be overlooked.

(modeled by my three year old on a zero degree day)

1. Neckwarmers ($16) :

They are made from double layer of thick fleece in wonderful colors.  The size is perfect for toddlers allowing coverage of the neck, but allowing the child to breathe easily!  The size fits my two year old and three year old quite well.  It even worked as an ear band in a pinch after a hat was mysteriously misplaced.

2. Hats (infant $18 and toddler $23)

The warm fleece in fabulous colors makes these hats perfect.  We tried out the toddler version with a velcro closure and tassel "ears".  It is slightly large for my two year old, but is perfect for my three year old.  It was warm enough for a snow machine ride and squished under his coat hood nicely.  We also received compliments on how cute it made my children look!

All in all, I am impressed by the design of the products.  They have a great idea with spot on construction.  The seams are sturdy, fabrics high quality and are offered in a variety of colors.  I recommend these products and are proud to give them my Alaskan Mom Approval as they help keep Alaskan mothers sane by allowing them to take their children out in the winter!  Thank you January Baby for letting us review your amazing products!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Nature Adventures

Nature Adventures, Frances Lincoln Children's Books (2011)
Mick Manning (Author), Brita Granström (Illustrator) 
“They shut the road through the woods 
Seventy years ago. 
Weather and rain have undone it again,
And now you would never know.
Rudyard Kipling (Woodlands section)

While I would rather take my children to a park than to a library, I want them to have a well rounded knowledge base.  I want them to be comfortable running down a wooded path and also find solace squishing into a pillow nest with a new book on a rainy day.
Nature Adventures (March 2011) by Manning and Granstrom has hidden literary quotations among the wonderful drawings of birds, trees and leaves.  While each page has descriptions, activities and information, the main highlight is on the illustrations.  The drawings are simply done, but are not cartoony.  I seem to enjoy looking at them as much as my one year old.  
The book breaks down the natural world into sections:  In the Town, Fresh Water, Woodland, Field and Hedgerow, Wild Country, Sea Shore and Through the Seasons.  A short description of the area opens the chapter and introduces the scenery.  The drawings then show the flora and fauna you would find.  The Fresh Water section shows children dipping jars into a stream and examining the contents (it also says to “let your prisoner go afterwards”).  It also describes how to make a cast of an animal track and how to make to toasties (wild garlic on toast with cheese).  
The sections cover different animal droppings for identification, leaves, bird eggs, common grasses and describes various bird calls.  I have a long held fascination with the weasel family and the book taught me that ermine is actually just a white stoat.  Badgers dig holes for their droppings, the alarm call of the Jay sounds like tearing paper and that Grey Seals can be attracted by sining like a warbling opera star.  

I was so in love with the illustrations that I found the duo’s websiteI hope you have a minute to spend there as it is amusing as well.
There are a million things to look at and learn about on each page.  I found myself getting lost in the pages.  The children would talk about the fish jumping and I could read about their habitat.  I also was entranced by the English diction such as “rucksack” and the quotes such as, “Lonely the seabird lies at her rest, Blown like a dawn-blenched parcel of spray” by Yeats.  
I give Nature Adventures my Alaskan Mom Approval for its amazing nature drawings, ability to grow with the child (first as a picture book and later as a field guide) and for how it can transport me away from screaming children to a seaside in England where I might catch a glimpse of Mr. Darcy (this nature girl has a penchant for literature as well!).  Go grab a copy of this book for yourself and get another as a gift for your budding explorer!  It is current $13.94 at Barnes and Noble (

Thursday, August 25, 2011

My Bear Griz

In other parts of the world, I imagine parents talking to their children about walking loudly to scare off snakes and not walking into lakes for fear of alligators.  I give the "don't run or scream" lecture for bear safety up here in Alaska.  My three year old knows to "stay close to mom" and mom will "spray the bear" (most hikers carry bear spray to "help" if attacked).  I don't know how much he understands, but I hope it sticks if needed.  

I realized I needed to tone it down a bit when he was given a stuffed bear for his birthday and he said it was "too dangerous".  Thank goodness for Suzanne McGinness's book, My Bear Griz.  As my children often enjoy reading a book multiple times (read as ten times without stopping or getting up from the couch), I am overjoyed when a book has illustrations and a story that I enjoy.  The drawings have movement, express emotion and are child friendly.  These are the types of drawings that would be perfect framed in a nursery or hung in a preschool.

The book shows a boy and a large Grizzly Bear walking through the woods, exchanging secrets and sharing a sandwich.  They have an adventure and emerge from the woods as a young boy dragging his teddy bear by the arm.  The imagination of the child is evident, without having to be expressed in words.  Of course, we do have a little discussion about not feeding wild animals your sandwich or trying to ride upon bears in the forest.  It allows us to talk about bear safety in a slightly less scary and graphic way.
(Bear proof, and child proof, trash can at a trailhead)

This book holds appeal for a wide age range as my 1 1/2 year old asks to read it as often as my three year old.  It will be a wonderful first reader as well due to the simple words that pair beautifully with the drawings.  I am glad that it is a hard cover as they like it so much!  It seems I notice something new each time I examine the pages - a silly comment from the bear or how the child's expression changes.

 (I found some more amazing art work by Suzanne McGinness on the web)

I give this book my Alaskan Mom Approval for its fabulous drawings, humorous wording and giving me a softer approach to bear safety.  I think this is going to be my "go to gift" for two year olds paired with some smart wool socks.  Thank you to the publisher, Frances Lincoln Ltd., for letting me review this book.

 (I found some more amazing art work by Suzanne McGinness on the web)

Click here to go to Amazon to purchase your kiddo a copy of 
My Bear Griz! (currently listing at $14.00)