Tuesday, June 19, 2012

BAK Gear: The Sippy Cup

Ahh yes, the ubiquitus sippy cup. You've seen them, you've read the reviews (or at least trying to find reviews), you've picked them off the car floor, from underneath the car, and from buried beneath the bark mulch where your dog just took a shit.

Although my eldest is exiting the sippy cup phase and straight into the beer bottle phase, we still have a little one who has yet to get into it (she's still on the boob).

We've probably tried every single sippy cup found at ToysRus, Wholesale Sports, and Valhalla Pure. Everything from brightly coloured princess ones, to save-the-earth hippy ones, to look-at-how-rich-my-parents-are, to look-at-how-my-parents-hate-me ones. Either way, its probably every BAD and BAM's quest to find the perfect sippy cup.

They all have their advantages and disadvantages. Some are spouts like the clean Kanteen, or that lime green one you see, some are coffee mug style like that blue one, some are straw-like. I'm not sure what is the best for kids, developmentally speaking, but I would think getting your kid use to a variety of dispensing methods is a good thing. I do know the current wisdom is that, if serving juice or milk, it should be in a cup. Only water should be put into sippy cup (or any clear fluid like vodka, zima, gin...)

Ok, so which one sucks...the one with the pink lid from Learning Curves. It sucks. I remember it being marketed as leak proof but easy to suck. It is leak proof, but it sucks at sucking. It requires finesse when assembling the straw to the gasket, and then the gasket to the lid.  If the air pressure release valve isn't seated just right, you will either have a big ol' mess or no suckage at all.  I have no time for finesse, it needs to be INSERT, TWIST, GO. 

The coffee-mug styled one is not bad, it too incorporates the use of a venturi effect gasket, but its simple and effective - big male to big female, small male to small female. easy peasy. This style of dispensing method does help develop their coffee habits at an earlier stage though. It features a smooth shallow hour-glass shape, that feels sexy in my - er...my BAK's hands. If your BAK has slippery hands from squishing frogs or cleaning guns then more than likely, she won't have a positive retention on the cup. 

I think BAK really preferred the purple plastic one from Playtex with the silicone straw, mainly because she can gnaw off the straw. Playtex doesn't sell replacement straws, so you're left with buying a whole new bottle. Those f*ckers.

For travelling, and being responsible eco-citizens we generally either take the green metal canister (from SIGG I believe), or the klean kanteen. Both are 18/8 Stainless Steel. The green one has a lid, that is ill fitting, so its almost next to useless as it doesn't stay on. the Klean Kanteen has no lid (although now they have come up with one), so the sippy part is exposed. The Klean Kanteen is modular in that you can actually interchange the spout lid system for an adult one. The sippy part is replaceable and can be bought from Avent.

The Klean Kanteen is just a hair too fat to fit inside the exterior netting of the Little Life backpack, so BAK just uses the green one.

For home use I would recommend any of the plastic ones above, except for that Learning Curves one. For outdoor use, go with something very cleanable like stainless steel. You may of noticed I didn't really comment on the side sippy cups. They are basic, and we use them as sacrificial items. Use a few times, and throw away...perfect for little visitors who's parents forgot their sippy cups.

So, in the end what would I recommend? Definitely every BAK needs a Klean Kanteen, which can be bought at most outdoor sporting good stores. And for plastic, well, it doesn't really matter, its a matter of preference for the kid.


Friday, June 8, 2012

BAF: Vacations Part II - Orlando

This will be more of a "what worked, what didn't" type of report. So this was the context: 2 x adult, 1 x nonpaying infant, 1 x 3yr toddler flying from YVR to MCO thru ORD for a special event, incorporating a mini family vacation at Walt Disney World for a week.

So what worked?
Careful planning, calculating the number of infant-needs required for the trip based on statistical averages. Planning of clothes anticipated for the weather we would experience. We needed to pack dressy garments in addition to the normal vacation-wear. After all the packing, REMOVE HALF OF IT.

For the wx we experienced, shorts and shortsleeve technical fabrics were king. I did not want to walk around looking like a dri-fit poster, nor was I going on an african safari, so I ensured that the clothes I packed not only fit the climate but also the social environment. I ended up packing:
  • A couple of Under Armour shirts and short - perfect for when hurricane Beryl hit, everything was quick-dry. Shorts were also used in the pool. I would say that the majority of the male population at WDW wore some sort of technical fabric.
  • 5.11 taclite shorts - these are the best pair of shorts EVER! It literally became my tactical murse. I carried passports in the cargo pockets, camera off the d-ring, wallet, ident, keys, snacks, water bottle, maps. Look for a review on this later...
  • Vertx polo - I've already made a review of this, and yes it is the shizzle. 
  • Ralph Lauren Custom fit polo - enough said. I look hip and cool.
  • Prana Stretch Zion pants - These are my goto travelling pants for warm weather. They are also quick dry, UPF, and offer some protection from the elements. It also also abrasive resistant as they are designed for rock climbing...and, it doesn't make my ass look big.
  • Chaco sandals - I've rocked these sandals for a year now, and were my goto sandals overseas.   They offer much needed arch support for my bad asian genetics. 
  • Arcteryx Squamish Hoody - Although this is designed as a windy shirt, it offers wx protection with its dwr coating. It is so light and packable that it fit within my other cargo pocket. When all the tourists were trying to hide under shelter during the hurricane and crazy wx, we just donned our rain gear and trekked onwards - in fact we were able to hit up all the rides while the rest of the people were cowering underneath shelter. 
  • scivvies - enough said
  • Wigwam gobi liners - These are sock liners that offer moisture wicking abilities, and make your feet not so rancid. I like these socks, because they don't bunch up and create abrasions and callous and bunyans and stuff.
  • Pair of Ray-bans - polarized.
  • a couple of plain cotton shirts - for hanging around doing nothing
  • I travelled with dark boot cut jeans, brown leather shoes, and a button shirt
  • toiletries
I found that the above packing list was ideal, as I was able to utilize all the garments and only took up 1/2 a carry-on. There was one deficiency that was rectified, but more on that later. 

BAM packed basically the same type of garments but she substituted Vertx and Pranas for Lululemon. She also had a pair of knee-zipoff pants from Columbia. 

Older Sister BAK, took her Little-life backpack, as her one-man, one-kit. At any given time, she'd have a bagel in there, hand sani, texter, colouring stuff, chapstick, hydration, hat, sunglasses, candies, maps, and other knicknacks. She brought her Keen sandals. This made her feet less stinky at the end of the day. And offered some grip at the pool.

For BAKs, we trimmed down alot of what we originally packed, opting to use garments more than once to mix and match. Of course we packed the No-Zone sunsuit for the one BAK that can swim. Given that our infant is under 2 months at the time, sunscreen and pool entry was not possible. 



We were able to pack all our needs into two suitcases, but opted to spread our stuff into three, just in case we went shopping and needed the space to bring more back. For suitcases, we used a luggage system that integrated ABS hard-side with micro-ballistic nylon for soft-side and 360 spinners. This offered us the best compromise for hard-side protection, weight and mobility. These suitcases each had a separated zip compartment designed specifically for suits and dresses.


The B.O.B Revolution stroller was king. Not only is it airport and air travel-friendly, it's also WDW-friendly. This stroller is not considered a lightweight stroller; however, it pushes like hot knife through butter. We utilized this stroller as our carry-all while at WDW. It held lunches, rain gear, water, snacks, sunscreen, and purchases of course. Our little infant would use the main compartment (if she was sleeping), while the toddler would sit on the footwell. This actually balanced quite well. The ergonomics are fantastic, the handlebars are at the right height, my knees and feet weren't kicking the kids head from the back.... I felt sorry for the big dudes having to hunch over pushing their kid in an umbrella stroller. I liked using the B.O.B. because of its 12" inflatable wheels. Whereas normal stroller wheels would have issues with floor and ground transitions and cobblestones, ours just easily navigated everything. 


Ergo Baby Carrier with infant insert. Mainly BAM used this for low-profile work, like discreet nursing on the go. She would transition the infant from the B.O.B. to the Ergo when we needed to wait in line, or if we were going into a crowded situation (although BAD does like to use the B.O.B. to push through the crowd). For the wx we had in Florida, the Ergo made BAM, BAD and BAK sweaty; however, the alternative was to carry the infant in the arms. The Ergo provided some sun protection, but we found we needed to use a UV-treated cloth to cover the exposed dangly appendages.

Be brought our iPADS for the plane ride as well as for late night surfing.

What sort-of worked?
Mercedes GLK. The vehicle itself is a fantastic piece of machinery as a compact SUV. Even better is the group we rented from Sixt. They are European-based, but are gaining a little bit of market share. And so they should, as their vehicle lineups at the pricepoint is fantastic. For the base price, the GLK came out to about 35-40 a day with unlimited mileage. Adding in the two carseat rentals and taxes we paid about 68 dollars a day. The carseats were top of the line Britax, so at 68 all-in I think its a good deal...

So why did it sort-of work? Load capacity and trunk space. We had to do some creative packing and leveraging in order to get our BOB, 1 29" suitcase, 2 carry-ons, and my 5.11 tactical murse. But we managed. The rest of the week was golden. It drove smooth, and is much better on fuel than my V8 Land Rover. One thing I totally hated was the nav system. What a piece of garage. It's not touchscreen, and you had to use a dial to scroll through the on-screen QWERTY keyboard. I ditched it in favour of using my trusty Magellan Roadmate 5045 which also gave me traffic information. For the return trip, we learnt from our arrival, and packed it in a bit better.

Spray sunscreen. Not as efficient as the cream version. spray goes everywhere, especially in the wind. But is useful for apply UV protection to cloth.

What Didn't work?
Not bringing walking sneakers. BAD unpacked his walking sneakers as an afterthought. Not a good idea. Sandals are ok maybe for one or two full days of walking, but proper walking sneakers with cushion and custom orthotics are more ideal. 

One-room hotel suites. We really needed a suite with a separated sleeping quarters for either BAK, BAM/BAD. With an infant who is still dependant on BAM for life-sustainment at any hour of the night, a dedicated area for the other BAK to have a good night's rest is only fair.

There is still room for improvement, and will continue to find ways to streamline and make more efficient, and expedient our travelling routine.

I don't know why BAK is so into maps. She can't even read. 

Disclaimer

Full Disclosure: Unless noted, Bad Ass Dad has not been compensated in any means to review this gear. It is all his own, procured through pro-channels, retail, or issuance.