Never Leave Home without Your MiaMily

When I made the decision to move abroad with my twin toddlers, my first thought was, “You’re a dumbass! You can’t take the tots with you on your adventures. You cant hike, bike, or ride an ATV; you have TWO babies. The roads aren’t stroller friendly either. What will you do?” Then, I decided a backpack carrier was the only way to go. Surely I can take the babies on daily adventures with a backpack carrier, right? Well…not all carriers are created equal. 

  • I used wraps and kangaroo shirts when they were babies, but these dudes are pushing 30lbs now.
  • I tried the massive hiking backpack carriers and felt like they were appropriate next time I attempt to climb Everest, but they looked a little silly for a stroll to the farmers market.
  • I tried the ones where you can wear the baby dangling off your front or your back, but I knew that position wasn’t comfortable (or safe) for a baby’s hips.

Enter, the Mia Mily 3D Hipster! Hell to the yeah! This is what I’ve been looking for! I researched it ad nauseum, I read all the mommy blogs on it, read through reviews and so on, but when it arrived it was even cooler than I expected. The designers thought of everything!

Badass Fact #1:

Its designed with a baby seat to support baby’s hips whether they’re facing in, out, or worn front or back, or side.

Badass Fact #2:

I can wear my baby 9 different ways OR I can tandem wear! Yep, I can wear BOTH babies at the same time. #twinning

Badass Fact #3:

It comes with a carrying case, teething pads for the shoulders, and a shade to protect your baby’s face.

Badass Fact #4:

Its adjustable; and I mean adjustable to the fullest extent of the word! I’m 5’6 and small framed and my husband is 6’5 and quite the giant. We can both wear the carriers and adjust the straps at the shoulders, across the chest/back area, or the waist. We can choose hos high or low we wear the baby.

Badass Fact #5:

It’s super lightweight! I tried so many huge, cumbersome, bulky versions of carriers and the MiaMily trumps every one of these on portability. I stopped checking in my trunk to make sure I had my stroller, but instead, I never leave home without tossing the carriers in my front seat or in my grocery cart even. God forbid theres a tantrum in the cart while I’m mid shopping. Now, I just strap on the carrier, throw the fussy one on my back and keep on trucking!

I loved my carriers when I lived in Austin for daily life, but I’m in lust now for the way they assist me with adventure life in Central America. I’ve worn my boys at LaPaz Waterfall Gardens, hiking through butterfly gardens, riding ATVs through the jungle, shopping in mountain towns, on the beaches, monkey farms, animal sanctuaries, zoos, climbing down to the Rio Machuega, and even an aerial sky tram in the tropical rainforest 300 ft in the air!

The carriers support babies and toddlers no matter what position is preferred and get them at the right height to enjoy the same viewpoint as the adults they’re with. Whether its 95 degrees and humid in the jungle or 50 degrees in the mountains, the Mia Mily can withstand the journey.

You on live once! Strap that baby to your back and go! #YOLO

Stay Gold, 

That Girl

Hooked on the Joovy Nook

Disclaimer: I have no judgement on any other mother for the highchair they use; however, my personal style has always been very anti highchair. They’re unattractive, they’re bulky, they’re heavy, they get stained & stinky, and they ruin basic ambiance of your home. With twins I imagined double the disaster until I was introduced to the NEW & IMPROVED Joovy Nook. 

Wow!

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We’re huge fans of Joovy at this house. We’ve got the Joovy Boob glass bottles, the Joovy Moon Room playpen, the Joovy Spoon walkers, and now the Joovy Nook High Chairs! Joovy, in general, is known for it’s clean, modern lines, and functional designs. Well, they obviously did their homework before creating the Nook!

Chic design

The Nook we chose has a white frame and a black “leatherette” chair. I believe classic black and white combos can pull everything in a room together and I have a pop of black and white in every room of my house. So, the chairs don’t distract from the aesthetics in my otherwise pulled together home. I love that these chairs aren’t mind-numbingly colorful. Why do most baby gear manufacturers use neons and primary colors as though every new parent wants their home to look like the Big Top Circus? Bleh!

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Compact

Big, bulky, heavy high chair times two?! No, thank you! I don’t have room in my kitchen OR dining room for high chairs. But, the Joovy Nook is SUPER DUPER lightweight and it folds up, and unfolds with one hand! I literally can be bouncing a twenty-pound baby boy on my hip while unfolding my Nook with the other hand to get ready for feeding. It’s pretty legit! I pull them out for feeding, wipe them off, and fold them back down to store away next to my buffet. When guests come over, I store them in the pantry.

joovy nook folds up

Safety first

Another thing I’ve always been queasy over regarding high chairs is the number of falls and head injuries. Many new parents mistakenly position the high chair next to the table not realizing that babies can push off the side of the table with their feet. Well, not only does the Nook have a 5-point harness, but the backs of the chair are high enough that even IF the babies could push off the side of the table (although I never position them that way) the backs of the chair and the padding would protect their precious heads. Plus, the base of the frame is super sturdy and sticks to the floor for added protection.

cannon vail joovy nook highchair

Cleaning is a cakewalk

Traditional highchairs get oogy stains and stinky super fast. Imagine yogurt, carrots, bananas, and spit up bits and pieces sitting overnight? Gross! Either you’d have to wash the cover every meal or at least every day. The leather of the Nook is similar to a high end luxury vehicle and it’s not only designed for comfort; it’s designed to be easy to clean, I wet a sponge and wipe down the seats (after my dog licks all the crumbs out). The straps became messy pretty fast from the boys teething on them with food still in their mouth, but my mother suggested a toothbrush in the grooves and that’s worked like a charm. I only have to do that every week or so.

The only problem with the Joovy Nook is that it can’t fit in my car to take with me to friend’s houses, restaurants, and grandma’s. The boys love their highchairs and I have so much fun feeding them knowing that their safe & comfortable during feeding time.

Get your Joovy Nook at Joovy.com

Stay gold, 

Chelsea Vail

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Be Prepared with JuJuBe

Before I became a mom I had somewhat decided that diaper bags weren’t really my scene. There’s nothing sexy or chic about toting a sticky, stained bag around that’s stuffed with diapers, bottles, formula, snack foods, and likely covered in dancing monkeys or giraffes riding choo-choo trains (insert gagging sound here). I’m just not that kind of mom. I preferred carrying my Louis Vuitton Artsy purse and imagined I’d just use that to tote what I needed. 

Enter twins.

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Yikes! I didn’t know at that time I’d be a mom to twins! This requires much more gear than even my LV artsy could hold and I’ll be damned if I let that bag become stained or ratty. So, my first few months as a mom I carried a diaper bag I’d been given as a nanny. It wasn’t the Prada diaper bag carried by the mom, but it got the job done. Even though that bag worked just fine for my one child client, it was NOT working for me and my twins.

My first outing was to their two week pediatrician appointment. My mother was with me. We stocked the bag full of pacifiers, clth diapers, wet bags, nursing cover, changing pad cover, wipes, bottles, breastmilk , blankets, coats, baby wrap, and rattles. Heavy, much? If you think that’s too much stuff to pack for one outing you obviously don’t have twins. Trust. It’s WAY more necessary to have “stuff” when there’s two.

Sure enough, one baby starts fussing while the other is being examed so I start nursing. Then the other one starts screaming. I needed the pacifier, but it had gotten lost in the abyss of a diaper bag I used to carry. I was getting frustrated so I told my mom just to fix a bottle. Now, where did we put the bottle? Breastmilk? There was zero organization! No pockets?

Not only was it difficult to find anything I needed with the former bag, it wasn’t stylish. I never wanted to wear it or even carry it. I always stuffed it under the seats of the stroller and most of the time I didn’t even do that. I left it in the car instead and decided I’d would rather walk back out to the car to get what I needed than carry that bag.

Enter the Jujube First Lady! Total game changer!

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It’s super chic and goes with my style…classic black and white striped!

It’s made from a wipeable material so there’s no need to worry about sippy cups leaking or bottles spilling over.

There’s an opening in the bottom of the bag to dump crumbs. Yep…that exists!

Wear it as a satchel/sidebody, a purse, a handbag, OR a backpack! Plus, the strap is padded for shoulder support.

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Leave your purse in the car or at home. This baby has a front pockets for license, rings for keys, and a place for your phone and essentials.

There’s tons of pockets, compartments, and nets to contain EVERYthing you could ever need, or want, for baby.

My favorite part is the matching changing pad trifold that can be pulled out for changing babies in the back of the car or sketchy changing tables in public. Did I mention all of this stuff is wipeable AND machine washable?

Zippers! I didn’t realize how much the zippers matter but my other bag buttoned closed, which means things go flying out in betweek the bottons and the buttons were a pain to snap.

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Before I was a mom, I’d overhear other moms saying, “I love my JujuBe.” I had no idea what they were talking about, but now, that’s me! I love my Jujube! I tell everyone how much I love my Jujube because I don’t think there’s anything like it out there. Jujube or bust.

Stay gold, 

That Girl

The Case Against Toys

My mother texted me last week and asked me about a couple of gifts she was thinking about for my twins for Christmas (she shops early). I googled the items she was referring to and read about the products. When I read the words “teaches your child,” “educational,” and “your child will learn,” I knew the toys were not for us. Ironically, the toys that “teach” your child actually counteract learning and stunt development. Shocker, right?

I refuse to have toys in my home that teach my children.

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I texted my mom back and reminded her that I don’t allow toys that have batteries or electricity. In fact, I dont have toys in my home that “do” things. A toy that does for a child robs them of the opportunity to do. The play becomes limited by what the toy has been programmed to do. It does not require imagination, problem solving, creativity, exploration, or observation. It is entertaining the child, which is not what play is about. It’s not about entertainment or distraction.

Play is a child’s natural language. It is how they make sense of their world, how they communicate, how they express feelings, and how they process their experiemces. Play by definition is intrinsically motivated, therefore a toy that gives the same response each time a button is pushed, or a lever is pulled, trains the child to seek extrinsic reward, rather than introinsic. So, once again, play is negatively affected.

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As a Play Therapist I always felt saddened by the child who would come into the playroom filled with open-ended toys, pick up a toy and try to press a button. They’d search desperately for an off/on switch, something to push, pull, turn on somehow before finally looking at me and exclaiming, “It’s broken” or “What does it do?” This child has been programmed for toys to  do the work for him and he no longer knows how to play.

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Toys do not need names either. A toy that comes with a name, or a label, pulls the child from fantasy and anchors them to reality. This is not a good thing. I don’t want my children growing up thinking a stick is just a stick and a box is just a box. The possibilities for items like this should be endless to a child’s imagination. I once put a whisk on the play tray of my five month old son’s walker and my stepson said, “Why did you give him a whisk?” I told him it’s not a whisk to the baby, it could be anything the baby wants it to be. He looked at me like I’d lost my mind and said, “But what else could it be?” Again, how sad. This child has lost the ability to imagine.

So…what do they play with?

  • ribbons
  • tin foil
  • bubble wrap, corks, sponges
  • spatulas, whisks, ladels, egg beaters
  • Measuring cups
  • salad spinners, drainers, muffin tins
  • egg cartons, boxes
  • bags
  • blocks
  • balls
  • cars, trains, planes (wooden toys)
  • books
  • crayons, shaving cream, play doh
  • musical toys, wooden toys
  • blankets
  • bubbles
  • swings, slides, ladders, jungle gyms
  • hula hoops, jump ropes
  • figurines

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If you buy your children pop up tents how will they learn to build forts? If you buy them the bubble machine how will they learn to blow bubbles? If you buy hot wheels track you’re limiting how far and which direction the cars can go? Steve Jobs and Bill Gates did not grow up using iPads and tech toys…they grew up playing with what was around them and as a result they learned how to think and they became creators.

So, my children will not watch TV. They will not have ipads. They will not use smart phones until age appropriate and they will not play with toys that need batteries or need to be plugged in. They will learn to be resourceful, creative, and imaginative to play and to make sense of the world around them.

Stay gold,

That Girl

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Kangacare Lil Joey’s

A friend of mine had a baby a few weeks ago. I’d put both of us in the “green mom” category so when I started thinking what to bring to her when I visited her and sweet Ellory, I thought through what was in my “my boys are too little for” closet. No need to go spend money and waste resources, right? I spotted the bag of Lil Joey cloth diapers by Kangacare and my heart dropped a little bit. The teeny tiny diapers my brand new, sweet smelling babies wore the first few months of life would now only cover a thingh most likely. Sigh!

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If you read my birth story you know I didn’t have much control over what went down the first 11 days of life for my babies. When mom nearly dies on the operating table, the staff doesn’t call her to discuss her stance on cloth versus disposables. I’m aware how silly it makes me sound, but one of the hardest things for me as a new mom was meeting my babies for the first time in the NICU and smelling the powdery chemicals from the disposable diapers they were forced to wear. I could feel the plastic in my hand under their bums and it broke my heart that my precious newborns were sitting in sodium polyacralate, dioxins, propylene, tributyltin…blach! My baby born with a pneumo-thorax (hole in his lung) was being exposed to chemicals that cause respiratory distress?! My sweet twins, born to me after years of battling endometriosis and infertility issues were sitting in the very dioxins my fertility doctor told me were responsible for my struggles?!

My heart sank.

The nurse even gave me a toxic diaper as a koozie for the water she gave me in a BPA laden plastic container

The nurse even gave me a toxic diaper as a koozie for the water she gave me in a BPA laden plastic container

When the boys were released to me I put them in organic diapers right away. Unfortunately I didn’t have enough of the Lil Joeys to cloth them full time. But, when they started getting diaper rash and red, flaky, chapped booties from the ORGANIC disposable diapers, I knew cloth was the only way to go. I started putting coconut oil on the butts to fix the damage and putting them only in cloth and things cleared right up! I’ve never looked back.

Cloth is SO much better for your babies, but way better on your pocket book and mother earth. The Lil Joey’s come in 2pks for less than $30 so a good starter kit of these will run you about $200-300 depending on how often you want to do laundry, but they’ll wear these diapers everyday for about 12 weeks so you’ll save hundreds of dollars in the meantime.

Lil Joeys clyde Whole Heart

I loved the prints the Lil Joeys come in! My favorites were the Clyde and the TokiDoki. I wasn’t sure what TokiDoki even was until I visited the Kangacare booth at the ABC Expo and the moms there were acting like John Lennon had stopped by the booth. They were going nuts over this print! In fact, apparently I’d been living under a rock because these designs were in high demand in diaper bags, shopping cart covers, blankets. Everyone wanted some TokiDoki.

vail twins in toki doki

When friends and fans ask me what I consider a must have after having twins, cloth diapers, especially Lil Joeys, are in my top five! I’m so glad I was able to start cloth diapering them right away and limiting the pollutants entering their sweet new bodies. I am confident my babies are strong and healthy and will continue to be this way as long as I’m able to continue limiting their exposure to environmental toxins.

Stay green, 

That Girl

Lorena Canals Rug: The Machine Washable Wonder

When I first heard about a rug that could be machine wahed at home I’ll admit I was a bit skeptical. I thought to myself, “Oh sure, it can go in the machine, but I’ll bet it comes out fluffy, pulled, and faded”. But, then one showed up at my door from Lorena Canals, and I got to try it for myself…game changer!

Soft & safe!

I believe the secret to life with twins is places to set them. You need rockers, bouncers, swings, walkers, chairs, and playpens. Places that you can strap them into or safely lay them to play unattended while you tend to the other or tend to the house. We have blankets and rugs EVERYWHERE! I like being able to get up in the morning, lay the boys on a blanket to roll around and play, and have a few minutes to myself to make breakfast and get my coffee. Before this wonder-rug, I was getting up, strapping them into a swing and laying down blanket after blanket after blanket to provide cushion on the hardwood before unstrapping them and laying them on the floor. The Lorena Canals rug; however, is super soft! It stays in place (no rug mat needed) and it’s fluffy enough for them to roll around on without bonking their heads.

Lorena Canals Dark Grey Ombre

Lorena Canals Dark Grey Ombre

Lightweight!

The twins also LOVE to play in their walkers and scoot around all over the hardwood. The rug is lightweight enough that I can put them in their walkers and one-handed (while holding a 20lb baby boy) fold it up, scoot it out of the way, or even kick it out of the way so they can run around. This may not seem like a big deal at first, but have you ever had a rug that was super heavy you couldn’t move it without a helper, or two? Have you ever had a rug that was so flimsy all your guests tripped over it? Or, what about the rug that needs a rubber mat underneath it to stay in place, which makes it difficult to move? Trust. Having a play area rug that’s easily moved when you have twin babies is a huge deal.

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Not Min-Numbingly Colorful

I gag when I walk into someone’s home and 80% of it looks like a high-end designer showroom, but the other 20% looks like Barney vomited. The mismatched patterns of the children’s toys, the cartoon characters, the cheesy animals, and the primary colors on all the gear…blaech! That’s not for me and it’s not good for babies either. It’s overstimulating, unpredictable, chaotic, and frankly it’s not modern. My home is greys, whites, beige, and classic black and white stripes. Therefore, I opted for an ombre grey rug and it’s beautiful. It takes the place of a coffee table so we don’t have to worry about bumped, scraped heads as much and it’d not distracting from the overall ambiance of my home.

Washes so easily!

We use the rug for storytime, playtime, feeding time, and I even change their diapers on it from time to time. After about a week of being scared I’d ruin it if I washed it I finally decided to bite the bullet and just go for it.

Step 1: Put it in the washer.

Step 2: Put it in the dryer.

Need me to repeat that? It’s that easy. A gentle, cold cycle and a low tumble dry and it was stain free and pull-free! It looks the same, if not better, than it did when we first got it. I will likely be purchasing several more of these rugs…one for every room of the house!

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Get your machine washable Lorena Canals Rug HERE

Stay gold, 

Chelsea Vail