Wednesday, March 30, 2011

My Review of Wheel Easy Car Seat Travel Bag

Originally submitted at One Step Ahead

Why lug baby's heavy gear awkwardly through the airport, when you can comfortably pull it along? We added big, tough wheels to our car seat/booster travel bag for hassle-free toting - plus a new, ergonomic design so it's easier than ever! Front loading for easy packing; big enough to hold...

Excellent Purchase

By Hapa Mama from Kansas City, KS on 3/30/2011


5out of 5

Pros: Safe, Sturdy, Easy to Adjust, Protective

Cons: Uncomfortable

Best Uses: Infants, Toddlers, Preemies, Newborn, Kids

Describe Yourself: Parent of Two or More Children

This rolling bag is well worth the money. Instead of a thin nylon bag that you can get at Babies R Us, this bag is durable, thick, and perfect for traveling. I purchased this for our 1st child, as she flew on about 50 flights before she was 3. Now with our second, I've purchased another. I actually just used it over the weekend traveling without my husband on a flight with my youngest. The wheels are great, especially for pulling the 30+ lb car seats from the car to airport check-in/back to the car and or to the gate and back and I have never once doubted that the bag will protect my daughters' expensive car seats. The bag is large enough to tote booster seats too. The only things I wish were different are the placement of the handle for rolling the bag and the fact that I wish the handle was longer so it didn't seem like I didn't have to slouch when pulling it (I am only 5'4") and so that the bag wasn't nipping me at the heels when pulling it. I think if the handle were a little higher up on the bag or if it were longer, these problems wouldn't be an issue. However, I always check my car seats when I check in so that I don't have to lug them around the airport with me, so it's not too much of a problem going from the car to check-in and back. When my daughters were younger, I did gate check my infant carrier car seats in this bag and it folds down compactly enough that it isn't a hassle to take through security along with my purse, diaper bag, infant car seat, and child. This is a great bag and I would buy it over and over again. Don't waste your money on the cheap bags from the retail stores. They are flimsy (you might as well just use a trash bag) and don't provide any protection for all the money you spent investing in a nice car seat. Just remember that car seats are heavy and this bag doesn't erase any of the weight, so carrying it with the adjustable strap instead of pulling it using the wheels will be heavy!


Thursday, October 28, 2010

Time To Cry

Well, my intentions tonight were to quickly check something online and then head upstairs for bed. An hour later, I am still sitting at the computer...with a sore throat and tears streaming from my face (not to mention a heart full of regret) because I haven't kept up with this blog. There are so many holes to this story of our life and it truly makes me oh so very very sad. I know I keep promising, but tonight it has really hit me hard that about a full two years are missing here.

You probably wonder how I know it's two years...and my reply is that it's because scrolling down the blog I saw the post and video of Ava taking her first steps. Wow, it was really 2 years ago. Then the George Forman (stop thinking about the little white grill) jab and uppercut hit me in the gut...poor Myla Grace isn't even in here.

So, over the next few weeks, that is going to change. Sweet Myla Grace is FINALLY going to get her turn in the spotlight (sprinkled with Ava's happenings too, of course).

Until the next post, enjoy these quick pics and toodles...

...and p.s. hopefully when you read this, you will have gotten down to the end of my catching up!

Monday, March 15, 2010

I'm not dead yet...

This is the perfect title to this post since it's been almost a year since the last time I logged on to this blog and because it's a line in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. I promised myself and my family that I would resume blogging last year, but life happened and somehow got in the way. So, to do something about this reality, I am sitting at our
iMac at 02:57 after being inspired by our dear friend, Jen McDaniel, and her beautiful blog. Thank you, Jen! I know I will be so mad at myself in a few years for having such a gaping hole in our family's story and namely Ava's first 2 years of life. Hopefully I can get my act together for poor Myla's sake and be able to catalog her sweetness (along with Ava's) from this point forward. I think I have just come to the realization that I am not going to get much sleep in the coming days, weeks, months, or years to accomplish all the story-telling of what has happened in our lives over the past year all whilst journaling about what is currently going on. I will try my best, I promise!

Since it is going to take a LONG while to blog about the past, here is an almost month-by-month snippet of our 2009 (as featured as an accompaniment to Myla's birth announcement)...

January found us outfitting Amy’s car with an upgraded forward facing carseat for Ava

and in February we headed off to San Diego for a long weekend for the USA 7’s rugby tournament and Ava’s first trip to Sea World. Ava showed off her rugby skills at the tournament’s kid zone and managed to keep everyone entertained with her sprint drills across the pitch. Then it was love at first sight between Ava and all the marine mammals at Sea World. Words can't even begin to describe the look of wonder she had plastered on her face the entire day. Four days later we were off once again to Brian Head, Utah, for a brilliant weekend of snowboarding. Ava had a blast playing in the snow and loved going down the handmade snow slide we crafted for her off the side of a hill. Although, wearing a full snowsuit, boots, and gloves was a different story—we think she still resents us a little.

March and April were incredibly busy, as March saw Matt hike the Grand Canyon from rim to rim over four days with a group of friends. Three days after his big hike, we packed our bags and headed to Tennessee for a week to visit Amy’s family for Easter. Ava had a big time running around the yard on her first egg hunt, although the grass seemed to keep her attention more than the bright plastic eggs. Less than a week after getting back from TN, we packed our bags once again and headed to Denver, CO for Matt to participate in a drill weekend with the Buckley ANG. As always, we had a wonderful time in Denver and Ava got to visit her first Children’s Museum. It is truly amazing. Almost as amazing as Denver's REI store downtown. It was Matt's Mecca.

May brought us a visit from Matt’s parents and the surprising news that Amy was pregnant…mere days before Matt swapped one desert for another with his deployment to Balad AB, Iraq for the summer. Ava wasn't quite sure what to think of her Daddy leaving her, but she was brave and put on the best smile she could muster up at 6:45 am (mind you, it was 3 hours before she normally wakes up).

To keep Ava busy, Amy continued taking her to swim lessons, gymnastics, playgroup, the airport to accumulate new frequent flier miles, and Gymboree. It was also in this month that we became the proud new owners of a DVD player for Amy’s car. We said we would never do it and criticized those who had, but Amy caved in and car rides have never been the same since.

June and July were filled with lots of airplane rides and family time for Amy and Ava. In June they headed to Texas for a quick trip to escape the Vegas heat while Matt continued to sweat his life away in the 130-degree heat of central Iraq. July found Amy’s family joining her in Vegas for a week of fun in the sun. While the Allen clan was in town, we all visited the Secret Garden and Dolphin Encounter at the Mirage. Ava had so much fun roaring at the lions and tigers and she was beside herself by how close she was able to get to the dolphins. Amy and Ava then went back to Tennessee for two weeks to visit all of her extended family. On the way home, the two stopped in Texas to visit Matt’s family and show all of our friends Ava’s new vocabulary and Blue Bell ice cream eating skills. Amy needed her fill of Angelina's and Chik-Fil-A too!

In August, the girls escaped to San Antonio to visit Matt’s sister, Whitney's family and take in the fun of another Sea World with Matt’s other sister, Casey, who flew in from Dallas for the weekend. Ava had a phenomenal time playing with her cousins, feeding dolphins, and partaking in the Shamu show, and splashing in the water park. Luckily, we managed to make it home with only a $13 water bottle. I will reference this coveted water bottle in later postings, don't worry.

The end of September found Ava and Amy at McCarran Int’l Airport once again to welcome Matt home from his deployment. The girls were able to meet Matt at his gate, so everyone was excited for the homecoming (of course, we were both holding signs!). Ava was so happy to see her Daddy once again and Matt was excited to see the extra pounds Amy had packed on since the last time he saw her. The Elmo backpack full of goodies that Matt gave to Ava helped tremendously with the reintegration and the stuffed Ming Ming (from the show, WonderPets) was an added bonus.

October found us on our last trip as a family of three. Together, we toured the Pacific Northwest, hitting up Portland, Seattle, and Vancouver, British Columbia. Amy found the BEST donuts in the world (VooDoo Donuts in Portland) while Matt literally ran around each city trying to maintain his triathlon training. Ava was thrilled to take her first Amtrak train ride along the gorgeous Pacific coast and she was even more excited to get to use her passport for the first time. A week after returning from our trip, we finally closed on the purchase of our house here in Las Vegas. It only took a full deployment to Iraq and over half of a pregnancy for it to come to fruition! Quickly after qualifying ourselves for the nice homebuyer tax credit, Matt competed in The Pumpkinman Triathlon, his first Olympic distance triathlon. Ava loved being at the race and proudly cheered on her Daddy from the sidelines. Ava then spent her last day of being a 1-year old donning a penguin suit going door-to-door soliciting candy. Luckily, she had seen real penguins in action two months prior and was able to have the waddle perfected.

Ava celebrated her 2nd birthday on November 1st and she welcomed this new milestone with a fantastic birthday party at the park. Donning a tutu and pigtails (think Boo from the movie Monsters Inc.), Ava scaled all the playground equipment like a seasoned pro. 2009 somehow managed to take away our baby girl and transform her into a bona fide little girl who not only has real conversations with us using complete sentences but who also is fearless, courageous, and ridiculously strong. We always knew Ava was a sweetheart, but this year proved how loving, compassionate, and truly precious she really is. Ava's precocious nature and tireless enthusiasm ensures that there is never a dull moment in the day.

December 2nd brought us an absolutely gorgeous piece of heaven. Myla Grace was born at 5:04pm, weighing 7lbs, 0.4oz, and measuring 19 inches long. Her birth experience and 3-push delivery were beyond perfect and Amy was nothing but laughs and smiles the entire time. Things could not have been any more ideal and Amy was so blessed to have had both the best doctor and a near flawless recovery. Myla was an early yet incredibly welcome surprise to our family and Ava was both thrilled and ready to become a big sister. From the moment she met Myla Grace, she was enamored. Ava is the most wonderful and protective big sister imaginable, never wanting to be separated from Myla’s side. December also marked our first trip as a family of four. 12 days after Myla was born, we loaded up our car and headed to Arizona to ride on the Polar Express Train for a journey to the North Pole. We took this trip in 2008 when Ava was barely one year old, and knew that Ava would absolutely LOVE it at age 2, so we booked our reservations in March. Of course, this was before we ever knew Amy was pregnant and due 7 days after the trip took place. As we expected, Ava was captivated by the train trip to meet Santa. Like the year prior, she loved eating her chocolate chip cookie(s) on the train while wearing her jammies, although she turned her nose up yet again to the hot chocolate. Myla didn't get the hype and thought it was boring, so she slept the entire time. Or maybe it was the altitude that knocked her out! Regardless, we now have 3 bells that will hang on our Christmas Tree. What wonderful souvenirs!

As we start 2010, our transition to a family of four has been relatively painless and we couldn’t have dreamed of a better chapter in our story. Ava is still our little swimming star who dives for rings, torpedoes across the pool underwater, and swims to the side of the pool unassisted—all the while never allowing her smile to be wiped from her face. She is starting to potty train herself, can just about recite verbatim every book in her library, and actively tries to pedal her tricycle solo. Her zest for life is infectious and being showered with her abundant hugs and kisses while hearing her say she loves us makes every day worth living. At her two-month appointment in February, Myla was a delicate 13 lbs, 8 oz and is officially our biggest bundle of smiling love. Her personality blossoms more and more each day with coos and giggles and she holds all of our hearts in her tiny little hands. She is already sleeping through the night, making us love her even more. Matt continues to train for races—he has a triathlon lined up in March and the Big Sur Marathon in April--and his quest for visiting new places has never been greater. Amy manages to continually Swiffer the wood floors, keep Costco in business, guarantee the house is always stocked with homemade goodies, and stay up to date on photos of the girls, all while ensuring that Ava learns Spanish and bits of German and Myla keeps a full belly. Although she loves staying home with the girls, her mind is always thinking of new business ventures and ways to use her Masters--not to mention how many days until she can get back on the ice and teach the girls how to skate. Amy has quickly learned that there is TRULY NOTHING SWEETER THAN SLEEPING WITH HER GIRLS AND FEELING THEIR BREATH ON HER CHEEKS. She is beyond smitten.

The summer will find us saying farewell to the bright lights of Las Vegas and hello to the plains of Kansas. Matt was accepted into the Army’s Command General Staff College in Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas, so the four of us will be packing our bags for another big move in a few months.

This verse sums up 2009 for us...

From the fullness of His grace we have all received one blessing after another. John 1:16

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Latest News

Here are some of the latest happenings in our life all compiled into one post. I'm sure I'll highlight some of the exciting things with posts of their own in the future, but the list is all I've got at 0239 in the morning.

~We found out that Matt is deploying down range in May. So, along with the news came 1,000 new things to do before he leaves (both work and family related). As of today, we're at about 25 days and counting until he leaves us for the summer.

~April started with us going to Tennessee for a relaxing trip with my family. We all had a wonderful time and Ava really changed in the 7 days that we were there. Her vocabulary expanded and she seemed to grow up even more right before our eyes. On this trip, Ava got to watch Veggie Tales on a little portable DVD player for the first time and she was obsessed. All she wanted to do was sit on top of a giant pillow with Hambone the cat and watch Bob and Larry on a 6" screen. While home, Ava also got to participate in the giant Allen/Chambers Eggstravaganza at my parent's house. We had both sides of my parents' family over for dinner and a fantastic egg hunt. Fun was had by all and Ava L-O-V-E-D hunting for eggs. We were actually surprised at how good she was given that she was a rookie this season. In addition to the egg hunt, Ava got to dye her first Easter Eggs. Following the dying, Ava ate her first hard boiled egg (yuck). She loved the white part (yuck) until she got to the yolk (even more yucky) in which she gave a sour face and spit all the egg out of her mouth. I'm still disgusted. In the following days, we managed to spend some time at Starbucks (it's tradition), hit up the Nashville Children's Museum, go to the Nashville Zoo at Grassmere, ride my parent's Harleys (okay, so I sat on the back and did nothing), and visit with my all my grandparents a little. We also got to spend some time with my brother, Brent, and his wife, Julie, and their kids, Maura and Tristan, and we finally got to meet Tristan, which was so great...after all, he'll be a year old in May! Overall, it was a fantastic trip and we hated to leave.

~While in Tennessee, we also got the unfortunate news that Matt's grandmother, Mema, passed away. Although it didn't come as a total surprise, it was still hard news to accept. Mema was laid to rest on Tuesday, April 14, in Lewisville, Texas. Matt flew home to Dallas Monday afternoon to be with this family for a few days and celebrate the life Mema had lived.

~Now it's technically Thursday and Matt is coming home tonight from Texas. In addition to going home for Mema's funeral, Matt went to San Antonio for a visit to the altitude chamber at Randolph AFB. His trip to San Antonio has been planned for some time now, so the timing was a bit uncanny for his extended trip to Texas. Not that a family member passing ever falls under the column of "good timing," but Mema's passing over the weekend was almost a this past Monday and Tuesday were the ONLY days Matt could have ever gone home to Texas before his deployment. Up until he leaves, Matt has to sit in mandatory pre-deployment training during the work week and each weekend has already been dedicated to a trip or activity of some sort.

~So, that gets us to the coming days and weeks. Here's what's on our plate and what you have to look forward to reading about in the weeks ahead:
  • A weekend trip to Denver (Matt has to go up to the Buckley ANG for their drill weekend)
  • A long weekend trip to Chicago
  • The Garrison's are here to visit Ava (Matt and I have come to accept that no one really wants to see us...)
  • My Iron Girl triathlon
  • Matt leaves

It seems like April is already over and we're only barely 2 weeks into the month. I guess that is technically half way, so maybe it's all in the way we see the month: half started or half over.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Sunday, March 22, 2009


a) I've been stuck in a giant abyss that has sucked me in...and after 5 months, has gotten so tired of me that it has decided to spit me back out.

b) Ava ripped off 2 keys on the laptop and has made typing an absolute nightmare.

c) Life has been incredibly busy lately and there seems to be no end in sight for the craziness (i.e. swim lessons, Gymboree, gymnastics, 3 story times, 2 playgroups, full time triathlon training--spinning class, swimming, running, and road biking 6 days a week, dance class, and endless swiffering of my floors).

d) Obama said that if he became president he would take care of me...and I thought that included updating my blog.

e) a, b, and c

What's your vote for the reason I haven't posting anything since the Revolutionary War? hasn't been that long, but it sure seems like it.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Ava's FIRST Steps!!!

Of course, there's a ton of things I need to put on the blog, but I've been really busy with planning a squadron fundraiser ever since we returned from vacation (the auction is over now, so I should have more time to blog!). Anyhow, this is the FRESHEST thing on my mind and I wanted to share it with all of you.

As of tonight, October 7, 2008, Ava Holt is officially WALKING! For the past month or so, Ava's been taking 2-4 steps and then stopping to squat...standing back up and then taking a few more steps, then squatting again. To us, those steps didn't really qualify as walking...just step taking. So, tonight Moose and Matt were on the floor playing with Ava while I cleaned up the kitchen after dinner. Moose was holding Ava's wind-up frog toy and Ava started walking towards him to get it (she took about 10-12 steps). She knew she was doing something different and of course, we cheered her on along the way. She was so proud of herself and we were over the moon with excitement. Since I was doing the dishes, I wasn't able to get to the camera fast enough and only caught the tail end of Ava piecing together the art of walking for the 1st time. I can't complain least I got something!

Hope you enjoy watching Ava take her first real steps walking as much as we have...

WHAT happened to our little infant? She's no longer a baby!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Uncle Moose

On Labor Day, our very, very, very good friend, Moose, showed up at our doorstep. I've known of Moose for a long time and have been able to really get to know him over the past three years in Germany. It's a LONG story, but at the Academy, he and my brother were in the same squadron their last two years--they were squadron commanders together. So, Matt and my brother were together for the 1st two years and Moose and my brother were together for the last two. Odd, I know. Anyhow, Moose is the most wonderful person and he just adores Ava. He thinks Ava is the funniest little kid in the world and Ava does nothing but flirt with him. It's quite funny. He's even given her a new nickname since being here...he calls her, 'Bulldozer' or 'Dozer' for short, as he thinks it's hilarious that she bulldozes through the house with wreckless abandon. The funny thing is that she actually responds to her new name.

Anyhow, here are a few pictures of Ava and Moose spending some time together. I'll be making dinner in the kitchen and look over to find Ava sitting in Moose's lap fascinated by his cell phone or a book. It's just the cutest thing.

Ava wasn't so fond of the new blow up penguin that we bought for her. We now know why it was on clearance...
But the bongo drums made for many smiles...
That penguin is still looking at me...

Saturday, August 30, 2008

25 Years Later...

Today, August 30, 2008, marks a big day in the life of Ava Holt. It's not her birthday or any common holiday...instead, today Ava is the exact same age (to the day) that I was when I came to America to be a part of the Allen family. It sounds cheesy, but the reality of my adoption has really started to sink in lately. I've always known that I was adopted but I never thought about how significant my adoption was to all of the parties involved (to my foster family in Korea and to my loving family in America). I've always been extremely thankful to my birth mother for her selflessness and ability to see past herself and her needs, wants, and desires in order to give me life (i.e. not aborting me) and then going further by giving me away in order for me to have a better life somewhere else in the world. On the flip side, I've also always been incredibly thankful to my wonderful adoptive parents and brothers for their selflessness and ability to open their hearts and lives to the orphan that they barely knew anything about at the time. They have loved, cared for, and nurtured me since before they even met me, and they are the only family I know, love, and call my own. I couldn't have ever even dreamt of having a more phenomenal family than the one I was blessed to have been chosen by 26 years ago. I've been given countless opportunities, an education with 2 degrees, and I've been given more dreams than most people could ever imagine having.

Anyhow, the reason I've been thinking about my adoption lately is because of Ava. I can't even begin to imagine giving her away and never seeing her again and I can't even begin to fathom missing out on the past 9 months, 4 weeks, and 1 day of her life. Having her in my life puts my past in such a different perspective and makes me even more thankful for being adopted.
It hasn't been until today that I can ask my mom if Ava is anything like me...if she was the same size as me, had the same amount of hair or teeth, or if she had the same personality or mannerisms as me. As much as I haven't wanted Ava to grow up, I've really been looking forward to this day because I'm so excited to know if this little 20lb incredibly beautiful baby girl is anything like me. She's so much like her Daddy, which makes my heart smile, but there's always been a part of me that's wanted to know what characteristics I gave to her.

As a surprise, my mom sent me a package filled with some of the things I came to America with on my Gotcha Day (the day I was adopted) and some of my clothes. However, the best surprise inside the package was the outfit that I flew to America wearing. Of course, given today's significance, I got the privilege of letting Ava Holt wear it over 25 years later. She looks so precious...

Here she is with 'Monkey Chee Chee,' my beloved comfort item as a child (she was in the package too)...

Thursday, August 28, 2008

1-year Anniversary

Today, August 28th, marks Matt's, Ava's, and my 1-year anniversary of living in the US together. Can you believe it? We sure can't. It seems like it was just yesterday that we boarded that plane in Frankfurt and headed west. My belly seemed big at the time, but Ava was just a little squirt back then. We can still remember leaving Germany at 57 degrees and walking off the plane in Vegas and it being 106. Strangely enough, this year the temperature doesn't seem as hot as it did last year. Maybe it was because I was pregnant...or maybe it was because within the course of 12 hours, the temperature managed to almost double outside. Whatever the case, it isn't as miserable outside as we remember it being last year. But then again, we spend minimal time out in the sun these days. Only another month and we can go back outside before 8pm!
Now that we've been Stateside for a year, it really hits us that Ava is almost a year old. Boy, time flies. It's been a quick but eventful year and we have been very blessed. We miss our life in Germany so much, but can't complain about the sweet life we have here in Vegas. They always say that 'home is where the heart is,' but we see it as 'home is where Ava is.' She's made us a family and we can't imagine not having her in our lives. Speaking of...I'm beginning to hear 'mamamamamama' and 'dadadadadadadada' emerge from the hallway!

Here are a few pictures that we took 2 nights ago. They're of Ava 'fingerpainting' for the first time with some spilled pears on her high chair tray (we usually wipe the spills up before she can get pointer into them). Once the pears seemed to have lost their painting ability, we supplememented with some yogurt. Hence, the Hitler face Ava gave herself.

This one is for Matt's sister, Whitney. Apparently Ava has inheritied Whit's childhood hand squeeze as an outlet for her frustration and passive aggressive anger. It takes massive force to peel her fingers back to unfurl her fists. As you can see, she was mad at me because the pears were 'gone' and instead of getting her some more, I was taking her picture.

And lastly, the 'Yogurt Hitler face' that Ava gave herself...

...we're still laughing at Ava's unfortunate painting coincidence.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Passport to Adventure

Ava standing up all by herself without holding on to anything...except her new passport!
It's official...Ava's passport arrived today! Although you can't see the picture very well, it's highly entertaining. When I took Ava to get her picture taken at Walgreen's, I didn't realize what a task it was going to be (I had to hold her up against a white pull down background without being in the picture). Ava was great (as usual) and we were in and out of the store within minutes. However, the only picture that worked for the crazy passport photo rules (and the one that is officially in her passport) was of her looking dead at the camera sticking out her tongue. I thought it was hysterical and Matt thought it was the best picture ever taken of her. It just captures her so well. What do you think?

She thought it was so fun to look at herself...
She's ready to get her passport filled with lots of fun stamps...

...Ava giving her gangster signs

Snug As a Bug In a Rug

Ava LOVES her new crib bedding. It's fluffy, plush, and soft...not to mention the source of so much entertainment. Each night before we go to bed, Matt and I check on the monkey in her crib. Well, this is what we found when we went inside her room on night of the 25th...

Usually, she has an arm or leg propped up on the bedding, but this time it was her whole body. We've debated on whether or not to give her a pillow (she LOVES sleeping on ours), but now that she has her new crib bedding, it's as if she has pillows all along the perimeter. The pictures make it look like she doesn't have much room, but the bumper was just fluffed before she went to sleep. After she plays in there, the fluff is about half that plush!

Walk, Sit, or Stand?

It started with Ava finding an empty diaper box and pushing it around the kitchen. Pushing the box was one of the 1st times we saw Ava 'walking' on her own.

Then she realized that it was far more exhilarating to ride inside it than to walk behind it.

What started with the playmat moved to her mower then escalated to an empty diaper box. What can we say, the kid loves to be pulled around the house.