Jamie Buechler is the production coordinator at up!, and mother to Dylan, a very energetic two year old, who keeps mommy and daddy on their toes. Along with daddy Dave, the Buechlers enjoy the outdoors and are regularly heading to the mountains.
Pam Fieber is up!‘s Managing Editor, and mom to nine-year-old Kate and six-year-old Lila, both avid bicycle riders, mud-pie makers, soccer players and tree climbers.
Teresa Johnston is up!’s Art Director, and mom to a seven-year-old son. He plays drums in a band called the Guy Weadick Bros, has fists of fury in Taekwondo and always gets the high score in video games.
Melissa Brown, up!‘s Account Executive, is always looking for goodies that make it easier for her to chase after her little one.
Pam: “Stance socks are certainly a conversation starter. Everyone from kids on the bus to the dentist notices the brightly painted and somewhat bizarre designs on the Ankle Biter’s Kids Collection (featuring gaping mouths). The socks have been worn on a very regular basis, and as a mom, I’m fearing the day the first hole appears. But so far, the wearable art is proving to be kid proof.”
Kate (Pam’s daughter): “I like them because everyone notices them. I like the design because they’re not all girly, like most people think socks for girls my age should be.”
Teresa: “I’m impressed with these socks. They are well made and re-enforced in all the right places so that little toes won’t eventually poke through. I love the wacky designs too.”
Teresa’s son: “The designers must have been CRAZY to come up with such WACKY designs!” ($9; stance.com)
Pam: “The company calls these shoes candy coloured foot sweeteners. The crazy colours are fun for kids, but we ended up with a simple white-and-cream pair that look like a pair of classic white sneakers, and go with everything. The neutral colour means no stopping to decide whether it’s the right shoe – it just always is. As the weather warms up, she goes more often without socks, and that’s when these shoes really shine. They have a soft rubbery feel, so they’re very comfortable, and the multiple tiny holes provide airflow that keeps them from getting smelly.”
Teresa: “These shoes are a welcome addition to my child’s summer camp wardrobe. They are light weight and breathable so no sweaty little feet, and they can be warn in water to boot!”
Teresa’s son: “These shoes are C-O-O-L. They are the best for the playground because they are so light they make me fly.” ($35; nativeshoes.com)
Jamie: “It’s good for adults when traveling out with kids. It’s a cozy pillow and blanket for the plane so you don’t have to buy one there.”
Dylan: “My Nanda!” ($35; zoobies.com)
DadGear’s Backpack Diaper Bag
Dave (Jamie’s hubby): “Finally a diaper bag I don’t mind bringing to the skateboard park.” ($89; dadgear.com)
Snack & Play Travel Tray
Jamie: “It works for a little while, but when he is done and wants it off the chair look out for a melt down.” ($24.99; starkidsproducts.com)
Britax Travel Cart
Jamie: “I don’t usually bring a car seat when we travel, but if I did this would be a great way to keep my son contained.”
Dylan: “Weeee!” ($79.99; britax.ca)
BabyBjorn Travel Crib Light
Jamie: “It’s so light, and it only takes seconds to set up.”
Dylan: “Shh, me ‘eepin.” ($329, babybjorn.com)
Columbia Splash Maker Rain Jacket
Pam: “This jacket has everything a kid could want –great colours, an adjustable hood, lots of secure pockets for collecting rocks and treasures, and a moisture-wicking design that keeps kids dry even as they explore in the rain. It has withstood a dash from the bus stop in the torrential rain, numerous windy recesses on the playground, and many bike rides. When you have to go and buy the same one for a younger sibling, you know it’s a good item of clothing. I’d say this jacket is destined to go down as a favourite.”
Kate: “It’s cool! I love this jacket!” ($70; columbia.com)
Pam: “It’s a great combination of I spy and Bingo. When you’re on a long road trip, you can play Tagnetic Bingo from GO Games, using items spotted along the way. Tree! Stop sign! The only problem in our minivan, younger sis was keeping a death-grip on the magnetic place holders, and denying the sightings.”
Kate: “I said DEER! Give me a holder!”
Lila: “NO—I saw it first!”
Pam: “The game is a bit arbitrary for them to be able to play on their own. An adult or very patient older sibling needs to act as referee. Which can be as tiring as listening to them complain about the ride. But if you have the right attitude, enough willing participants, and a long ride ahead of you, then Travel Bingo just might be your new best friend.” (US$9.95; magneticpoetry.com)
Crayola ColorStudio HD
Pam: When we brought home the Crayola ColorStudio HD stylus, there was much excitement. The stylus is technology’s answer to the colouring book—plus animation, music and sound effects. Kids can download the app, and press the stylus to the iPad screen for the start of an interactive session.”
Kate: “You kind of have to press hard.”
Pam: “One of the features she liked was the fact that you can create your own colouring book pages. However…”
Kate: “The pen is too thick. You can’t do really good drawings because you can’t stay inside the lines. They end up all messy. It’s a cool idea, but they need to make it better.” ($29.99; griffintechnology.com)
Melissa: “They are incredibly light-weight, easy to slip on and secure easily with adjustable straps. Great indoors or outdoors for all seasons and especially convenient for travelling. If you have an active toddler like mine, who rarely stays still for long enough to snap a picture, these booties are a dream to put on. They stay on, too! The sherpa-fleece liner provides extra warmth for cooler days and they come in a wealth of cute patterns for boys or girls.”
(Booties: $44.99; Linerz: $18.99; stonzwear.com)
Gear review: Solar Polar Short Sleeve Top
You know that great feeling when a breeze hits your hot and sweaty back during a hike, giving you a momentary blast of cool? Well the new Solar Polar Short Sleeve Top from Columbia takes that one step further—they’ve found a way to let your own sweat keep you cool, with their Omni-Freeze ICE technology. Wicking and antimicrobial technology balance out the, er, unpleasant side effects of the sweat, keeping you dry, and aroma-free during workouts. Weird, but very cool. I tested out the new Solar Polar technology during a hot and sweaty 25-km bike ride.
Gear review: Mancini Men’s Classic Billfold with Removable Passcase
The wallet has been a pain in the behind for adult males for centuries. Do you have a friend who owns a Costanza Wallet? Have one yourself? It’s especially a nuisance when it comes time to take a trip or if you’re heading to the pub and just need a bank card, picture ID and a few bucks. I tried out Mancini’s classic men’s billfold (#10852) on a recent trip where I’d be wearing shorts and a swimsuit much of the time and it worked like a charm with its removable passcase.