Review: Babyzen Yoyo Stroller

Disclaimer: I was graciously given a Yoyo stroller by Babyzen to test as part of being a StrollerTraffic Scout. However, all opinions are 100% my own. 

Rylan is over 2.5 years old, which means we’re in the awkward stage of needing a stroller in many cases while also begging him to stay seated in it in others. There is nothing more frustrating than lugging a giant stroller to an event, only to push it empty as Rylan walks alongside. On the flip side, when I refuse to bring a stroller he doesn’t want to walk and gets heavy FAST.

These scenarios are exactly why we loved testing the Babyzen Yoyo stroller. It literally folds up to be slightly larger than my diaper bag and has a shoulder strap for carrying when not in use. It is truly the very best option for those “we may need a stroller, but I don’t really feel like dragging one,” independent toddler years.

Babyzen Zoo

And speaking of folding, it fits in an overhead airplane luggage compartment! Overhead. Just like a roller bag. Genius. I am chomping at the bit for our July flight to San Diego so I can finally test this out.

Rylan gave it two thumbs up as well. He said “this feels niiiice” when he climbed in and the generous sun shade saved us during one very sunny outing to the zoo where I forgot sunscreen. On that same outing I heard multiple moms walking by me say, “woah, look at that stroller. I need that” Here in Colorado it’s almost the law to have a BOB stroller so the Babyzen was chic, small and unexpected as we navigated the crowded zoo walkways.

Babyzen Dog Walk

Some of my other favorite features:

  • The tiny compact frame, when folded, leaves so much more room for our giant 85 lb dog in the back of my Subaru wagon. The Yoyo is Kona approved!
  • The storage basket underneath is actually functional, not always the case for small strollers. And I tend to still overpack my diaper bag so a basket is critical.
  • It rides surprisingly smoothly on bumpy surfaces (our neighborhood sidewalks are a wreck).
  • I know my mom will have a much easier time getting it in and out of the car, and unfolded, when she and Rylan go on their adventures.
  • The zippered storage pouch is perfect for a cell phone and small wallet (aka, morning or afternoon Starbucks run up the street).
  • The fabric feels extremely high-end and durable, especially the padded shoulder straps.

The Babyzen Yoyo is an investment, without a doubt. But if you’re a family who enjoys being on-the-go, it is such a smart, space-saving investment–especially if you also live in a small house or condo/apartment with limited storage options for strollers amidst all of the other bay gear.

A sincere thank you to Babyzen and StrollerTraffic for trusting me with a Yoyo!! Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have questions.

Babyzen Thumbs Up

How I Wake Up

Not everyone understands how I’ve adopted to a 5am/5:30am workout schedule during the week, typically at least three but normally four out of five days Monday – Friday. Today when I arrived at a 5:30 a.m. yoga sculpt class I must have had a look on my face that portrayed the internal battle I had just finished fighting in order to drag my exhausted body out of bed only minutes earlier. I chatted with my instructor and I said that it came down to the following: I could get 45 or 50 more minutes of crappy sleep feeling guilty about skipping the class, or just get up.

I got up. Class was challenging and invigorating. I left with all the energy I needed for the busy day ahead. I was done with my workout before many of my friends were even awake. The sunrise on the way home was gorgeous.

My instructor suggested I blog about the very real early morning workout wakeup struggle and the voices I (and I’d assume everyone) battle in my head when it is still black as night and my bed is it its coziest. So, here’s how I wake my butt up…

  • Is the one hour of sleep going to change anything? Is it going to be good sleep or will I lay here feeling guilty?
  • Mike’s alarm is going to go off in 30 minutes. Will I really fall back asleep after that or will I lay
    here annoyed?
  • I think there are going to be treats at the office today. I know I am going to eat some no matter what, but I will enjoy them more if I’ve already worked out.
  • It is the only hour I’ll get to myself today. Period.
  • I’ve never regretted getting up. Ever. Just get UP.
  • Classes get a lot harder when you skip. Don’t skip. You will really regret it tomorrow.
  • Tomorrow Rylan could be sick or I could be sick or Mike could be busy. I have to go today while I can. While it is even an option.
  • Summer is coming.
  • I have money on this class. Do I really want to lose a class and the money? I am already awake. I am too cheap to lose that class.
  • Shorts and bathing suit season.
  • Get. Up. Alexis.

Do I go through all of these every morning at 4:45 a.m.? No, but I’d say at least half, yes. I am a morning person by nature but that means around 7 a.m. Nothing about the 4 0’clock hour is humane, especially in the dead of winter.

But the alternative, for me, is so much worse. Stress. Anxiety. Feeling lazy with no natural energy. No thank you.

How do you GET UP for workouts, work, family, etc.?

Too Plugged In

Credit: Beth Jusino

Credit: Beth Jusino

Despite my inability to blog with much regularity, I am ridiculously “plugged in.” And it’s wearing on me. Particularly, I am so disappointed with myself in not being able to leave my iPhone tucked away during my cherished and limited time with Rylan after work or on weekends.

Wanting to take a quick picture or video of him turns into a rabbit hole of Instagram uploading, Facebook scrolling and Twitter scanning. While I certainly don’t leave him unattended, I am not present.

Two weeks ago I took a random Monday off to ski, which didn’t end up working out, but I was still excited to have an extra day with Rylan in the mountains. Within minutes of arriving at the park I was on my phone getting sucked into work happenings. I heard from across the way, “mama! Put your phone down.” My heart stopped and my stomach sank. We hadn’t even been at the park five minutes and my head was down in a device–something that happens more often than I’d like to admit.

Being plugged in is part of our culture today. Our phones hold our email, conversations with friends, links to all the things we aspire to cook or make in our spare time…we are obsessed. I can’t seem to kick it.

Leaving my phone behind in my purse at night helps me stay present through dinner. I have to fight every urge to check it at bath time or “catch up” while Rylan is engrossed in his one TV show before bed. There is so much enjoyment to be had during these routine yet special, everyday moments…learning, laughing, being totally silly. I hate when I miss it and regret my decision to check “just once” for the rest of the evening. Because “just once” typically opens Pandora’s box into work, social media or both.

An entire generation of children are growing up fighting for their parents attention from a device we carry around with us at all times. How crazy is that?!

I am failing at unplugging, and so is Mike.

How do you get a grip on your technology addictions in order to be a more present parent (and friend, spouse, etc.)?

Easiest Spiralizer Meal Prep Hack

Having healthy options in our fridge at the start of the week is my number two sanity saver behind working out. I do not require anything elaborate, but I need to have plenty of grab and go options that together, make balanced lunches, dinners and snacks. Otherwise, what’s the point of 5 a.m. workouts (and let’s be serious…it is Girl Scout cookie season)??

But during ski season we are gone numerous weekends in a row and I fall way behind on meal prep each weekend. The result is a lot of weird combinations at night and a reliance on canned soups, frozen meals and bagged salads at work.

Since we still have a few more weeks to go of enjoying the mountains on the weekends I’ve been doubling up on vegetarian crockpot recipes when I can to stock the freezer. However, I have a new go-to for lunches at work that I am totally obsessed with eating.

What’s my latest, “takes one minute, clean eating meal prep hack?” Spiralized zucchini + whatever sounds good to you.

Spiralized Meal Prep

I learned from the Inspiralized cookbook that zucchini noodles can stay fresh in tupperware for up to four days. I find this to be very true! Unlike cucumber noodles which get soggy fast, zucchini noodles hold up well and can be enjoyed cold or hot.

I buy two or three zucchinis over the weekend when I grocery shop and then spiralize them Sunday afternoon or evening. I trim and separate the noodles into individual storage containers and stack them in the fridge. I’ll also ask Mike to grill me some extra salmon or in a pinch, stock up on sustainably-caught canned tuna. When it’s time to pack my lunch I grab a container of zucchini noodles, a handful of tomatoes (and wash at work if the morning is mayhem), an avocado and my protein of choice. At lunch I assemble everything, usually cold, and drizzle the top with a little avocado oil and garlic salt.

The result? Well, it’s typically devoured in minutes and I feel satisfied without being bogged down for the afternoon. If I’m really hungry from an early workout I grab a few crackers to eat alongside the bowl of goodness.

The zucchini noodles can be “dressed up” countless ways to beat lunchtime boredom. Build a rice-less burrito bowl. Add some pesto and shrimp. Toss with hummus and roasted vegetables! Anything goes in my book as long as the prep time is close to zero.

Enjoy!

Hey, Remember Me?

Wow. I think this is the longest hiatus I’ve taken from blogging. And to be honest, I haven’t missed it.

I won’t bore you with a recap of what’s happened since my last post. There were wonderful holidays. Disneyland. Kicking off ski season. Attempts at potty training. Work. Laughs. Tears. Memories forever made.

My family is my heart and I’ve been giving the tiny ounces of extra energy I have each night to them, instead of here.

But the itch to write and share is back, authentically, so hopefully a few of you still care to hear from me.

Every time I have sat down to blog in recent weeks I got stopped by a block and two questions. Why do people like to hear from me, and what drives me? Well, it all comes back to this working mom thing. It defines every aspect of me at this point of my life.

Working defines how I pour myself into motherhood when we are together. It defines my drive to dream big because I want to provide all that I can to our family. It defines when I do things for myself, from 5 a.m. workouts to planning a girls dinner weeks in advance to make sure it doesn’t fall on a week where I have already been away from home more than once or twice. It defines my pride, and all of my guilt.

You Got This

This is the perspective I plan to bring to the blog in 2016. Whether I am sharing a meal prep tip for surviving the week or pushing myself to unplug more when I am with Rylan and away from the office, Lex & Learn has evolved into a safe place for me to be open, honest, sarcastic and real.

I’m honored that people read my posts and I hope to learn and grow with you throughout the year ahead.

All my thanks!

Tantrums

Tantrums. Some of them make an all night Cry It Out session with an infant seem like a day at the spa. If no one prepared you for how hard life can be as a brand new parent, then it can really feel like you’re living alone on an island with a crazy person when the true toddler tantrums begin.

Toddler

Case in point. I believe, if memory serves me right, Rylan’s tantrum above was about the raisins I gave him. The raisins he asked me for as a snack. The ones I bought for him at the store because the day prior, he liked raisins a lot.

Tantrums are here. Daily. Many days, thank god, are mild and others (like this past Sunday) resulted in me calling my mom nearly in tears as we neared the 45 minute mark.

I have no tricks. No words of wisdom. Well, maybe one. Try your hardest to figure out what I.N.S.A.N.E. trigger *may* be a tantrum tipping point. For example,  maybe the breakfast you prepared to their exact specifications is offensive and totally wrong. Or, you offered them a warm and relaxing bath after a long day at daycare. How. Dare. You.

Then, figure out if there is any S.A.N.E. way to avoid a tantrum without turning into a complete toddler punching bag/pushover you said you’d never be. Perhaps it’s offering a few choices, letting them pour their own milk, or warning them 1,000,000 times during dinner that bath time is next.

In all seriousness, one of our biggest tantrum tipping points right now is screen time. The iPad has slowly crept into our lives when traveling or in Breckenridge and Rylan simply cannot handle his emotions when it’s time to turn it off. Melt. Down. City.

But, this introduction of technology and easy “crutch” in certain situations is totally our fault. It’s easy. TV is similar, though he is more easily redirected after one or two shows. The iPad not so much.

We have to re-introduce the iPad (aside from airplane flights) when he is mature enough to handle turning it off. I will not fly without it. Sorry Pinterest moms who board planes with 100 homemade crafts for takeoff to landing. Not happening.

In the moment of Ry’s worst tantrums I feel like I am doing everything wrong. Should I hold and comfort him? Ignore the outburst and walk away once I know he is safe? How do I keep my frustration, anger and temper in check and not show Rylan just how much he’s wearing me down?

It would be so much easier to give in. I get why parents give in. At times we give in. I can admit it, and move on.

In the moment you just want to fix it, especially in public. In those moments it’s unbelievably hard to keep the “long term” in perspective…the fact that I don’t want our now 2.5 year old running circles around us as a tiny dictator at 3 and 4.

Tantrums suck (literally, they can suck the life out of everyone involved). Tantrums are why entities like The Honest Toddler make toddler parents feel like we’re not alone on an island with a crazy person. Posts like “Three Quick Dinner Tips for Toddlers” and “A Toddler’s Apology to Santa” make toddler parents laugh and cry…and cry. Thank  you Honest Toddler.

How do you deal, aside from wine, with toddler tantrums?

Surviving PukeFest 2015

Credit: Chris Pawluk

Credit: Chris Pawluk

I write this with complete uncertainty if we have weathered the storm that lasted from approx. 10:30 p.m. – 4 a.m. last night. All signs thus far point to a quick-moving bug, but Internet forums tell me more might be on the way. Please let the Internet be wrong.

“Puke n’ rally,” while disgusting in college, is exactly what we’re hoping for today as Thanksgiving looms and all of our fun weekend plans in Breckenridge hinge on having a healthy and somewhat agreeable toddler. Why do kids ALWAYS get sick around holidays?

All in all, for having a kid who has gone to daycare since four months old, we’ve been quite lucky on illnesses. We’ve had our colds and coughs, the standard hand, foot and mouth party, one stomach bug at five months, a quick bout of croup, and a one really weird viral/strep-type infection that my mom had to deal with over the summer while we drank margaritas in Mexico (thanks again mom!).

But last night Mike and I earned what I am calling our “wash everything and pull an all-nighter because your kid keeps throwing up everywhere” parenting stripes. Yuck. Gross. Sad. Really sad.

Rylan didn’t know what throwing up was until last night and the way it scared him and made him cry broke our hearts. I kept hearing myself reassure him over and over as he cried while getting sick and it made me think back to all the times my mom and grandma did the same for me. If Rylan ends up being a “pukey kid,” he’ll have me to thank for that. Sorry buddy.

Whether it has already hit your house or you are nervously watching the calendar for the end of cold and flu season, let me share a few rookie suggestions with you from #PukeFest2015.

  • Get everyone involved. I seriously cannot imagine if last night would have happened when Mike was traveling. I know that you have no control over when the exorcism bug takes hold but I pray for you that at least two healthy adults are present. Rylan gravitated toward Mike for comfort so I sprung into the “it’s okay Rylan” coach and crazy sanitizing lady. As more and more surfaces got hit I raced loads of laundry downstairs. Oxiclean got the stains right out and my Thieves Laundry Soap got everything smelling fresh again.
  • Speaking of smells, our house smells (ironically) pretty yummy thanks to the dozens of times I used the all-natural Thieves Household Cleaner on every soiled surface and every place I knew he had touched earlier in the evening.
  • Beach towels saved the day when he wanted to get back in the crib but we weren’t sure what was yet to come. We covered his sheet with one, and made a path from the crib toward the bathroom with two more. Genius.
  • Back to oils and natural remedies, Thieves Essential Oil has been diffusing in his room all day and rotating around our house in a second diffuser since about 6 a.m. I also immediately applied it, diluted in a bit of olive oil, on the soles of our feet and behind my ears. On Rylan I also diluted DiGize in olive oil and rubbed it behind his ears and over his tummy.
  • Download the Children’s Hospital Colorado mobile app or the app of your local children’s hospital. All of the symptom checkers and at-home care advice has been both comforting and invaluable today.
  • Always, I repeat ALWAYS, have at least one bottle of Pedialyte on hand.

As we wait to see who might be next I’m washing my hands like an insane person, totally glad I splurged on Thieves Hand Soap and my favorite Honest hand sanitizer.

I in no way get compensated for all my product plugs above. I just love and believe in them that much.

Ok mamas…time to share your war stories or natural remedies! Or, just send coffee and wine. Both are sounding pretty epic right about now.

Rylanisms

FullSizeRender

Thank goodness toddlers are cute. Between the pulling-out-my-hair moments and legit time-outs I have to give myself to avoid going off the rails, Rylan opens his mouth and precious Rylanisms come out to make us keel over in laughter.

Spend enough time with Rylan these days and you might just hear…

  • “I need a tow truck for my nose.”
  • “I have a booger.”
  • “I not know.”
  • “How many minutes? Two minutes. Five minutes. Ok one minute.”
  • “I’m amazing.”
  • “Havin’ beers?”
  • “Coffee is yucky.”
  • “I need a ladder.”
  • “I have french fries and ice ceeeeeeem?”
  • “Yummy in my tummy tummy yummy.”
  • “The sun is taking a nap.”
  • “I have a poop.”
  • “Go Ralphie CU Broncos.”
  • “Green light WOO HOO!”
  • “Is that from your butt?” (Gross, boy humor already starting)

In the last 24 hours alone there have also been some sweet moments. So very sweet. Last night he asked me to sing him the “sunshine song” before putting him in his crib. And this morning when I woke up feeling like hell from round I cold & flu season hit, he patted my leg and bed and said “I wanna cuddle you mommy.”

MELT.

Right when you aren’t sure you can make it through a toddler’s day, they flip it on you and you’re not sure how you’ll ever be able to be away from them.

Darn you crazy toddlers!

I’ll Never: Dinnertime Edition

IMG_5030

Before you actually become a parent, you’re the best version of a parent you’ll ever be. You live and talk in “I will” and “we will” and “they will” sentiments. You are confident, cocky even.

Then real life kicks in.

And you think back to all the fake smiles and gracious head nods parents gave you pre-children. How nice they were to wait until you walked away to laugh and say to themselves, “oh just wait.”

Real life as a parent is 100% opposite from the saccharine Pinterest boards you pinned for nine months of pregnancy. I break my own pre-Rylan parenting rules every single day. Numerous times each day at that. How you ask? Let’s explore all the lofty things I aspired to when Rylan was still the size of a blueberry in my belly:

  • I’ll never rely on microwaved chicken nuggets as a nightly dinner
  • I won’t raise a mac & cheese kid
  • My kid will not watch TV every day
  • I’ll buy all organic produce
  • No juice boxes
  • We’ll eat dinner as a family at night
  • We will all eat the same things. I am not a short order cook

A tremendous source of my day-to-day guilt is centered around how I envisioned shaping Rylan’s relationship with food.

I am a conscious eater in most regards. I gave up meat nearly five years ago and my daily gym-going nature shapes what I will and will not put in my body. Yet I haven’t been able to find the time to weave my individual approach to food and food prep through how I (barely) get food onto the table at 6:30 p.m. every night for Mike and Rylan.

Much to my horror, he asks for, and gets, chicken nuggets on his dinner plate more nights that I can bring myself to admit. I hate it. Yet it’s a cycle I can’t harness the energy to break on the regular. Meal-prep Sunday only takes me so far. By Wednesday and Thursday, I am so tired. So dang tired.

I get angry and throw up my hands when I bust my butt to try a new “toddler approved” recipe from scratch only to have it met by a toddler who refuses to try even a bite of the dish, proclaiming “I no like it,” before it hits his lips.

My Pinterest boards are full of meals I mean to make. And have every intention of making and sometimes even shop for. This week will be different I tell myself.

Convenience foods are winning. Toddler pickiness is wearing me down.

How do your family meals live up to your pre-kid expectations?

Realizations from the Big Apple

 

 

Tired mommy soaking up the little guy before leaving again in the morning.

Tired mommy soaking up the little guy before leaving again in the morning.

I just returned from five nights away from home, and am turning around in the morning for one more day and night away. While I’ve been away from Rylan for five nights once before, this is the first trip of this length where I have been, essentially, by myself. I tacked Saturday and Sunday onto a Monday – Wednesday work trip to New York City. It’s a city that has a piece of my heart even though I’ve never lived there. I spent two carefree weekend days wandering Manhattan with my cousin and it was blissful. Both moms, we reveled in not having any sort of a schedule. We shopped, ate and slept in for two uninterrupted mornings. Heaven. Then I checked into a hotel for two hectic but rewarding days for a client media event. I opted to skip the lure of the city both nights and trade busy bars for basic hotel cable and blackout shades.

Safe to say I didn’t realize just how exhausted and run down I was until this trip. Ironically, I slept more in New York City than anywhere else I’ve been in months, maybe years.

When I am away from home people love to ask how I do it, or comment how it must be so hard. Many ask, “is this your first trip away?” I love the varying reactions when I say “nope, I’ve actually been away for nights here and there since he was 7 weeks old.”

But every trip is different, and this one (since it somewhat continues through Friday…I have a company retreat in Vail tomorrow through Friday morning) feels especially long. It has made me realize a few things I have been taking for granted.

  • My husband is the best. Seriously, the best. He never batted an eye or made me feel guilty for one minute about extending my time in NYC, or when our company offsite got scheduled for the day after I returned from NYC. He planned a super fun weekend for Rylan while I was playing in NYC that included a hike, seeing friends and going to the pumpkin patch. Every time I talked to Rylan on the phone he sounded extremely happy and content
  • I’m pushing myself really hard, mentally and physically. The pressure I put on myself to workout Monday – Friday, eat healthy and work full time is tremendous. I am not saying anything is going to change, but I need to be careful. I was in shock how much sleep I needed to catch up on this trip.
  • I want us to be better savers so we can do more traveling with Rylan. I was enthralled with viewing NYC through my new “mom lens” and want to bring him back to explore the parks, museums and other kid-friendly Big Apple attractions. I know he will LOVE the subway trains, buses and seeing the water.
  • It’s more than possible to live small with kids. Like, really small. I am in awe of how my cousin makes their 1,000 square foot apartment gorgeous and totally livable. I spent a lot of time thinking about how much I hope we can stay close to downtown Denver and make the most out of our urban-ish home, a mansion compared to how Manhattan families live. A BBQ is a luxury to most Manhattan dwellers and we have a ton more space to maximize if we simply learn to cut back where we can and make Ikea storage hacks a regular part of our vocabulary.
  • Mike is amazing. Yes, I had to reiterate this one more time. I am so damn grateful to have a true partner day after day.

NYC, I already miss you. But home sweet home (for 12 hours) feels quite incredible.

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