The Joovy Groove

joovy groove in blueberryJoovy is a company that always keeps its customers in mind- big and small. The new and improved Joovy Groove is a great example. Joovy recently redesigned their umbrella stroller from the ground up to offer a full set of features for both those who push & those who ride. The Groove offers a very ample seat for an umbrella stroller and a high 55 pound weight limit, which means that even your occasional older rider who needs a spot to rest on that long trip to the zoo will be just as comfy as your preschooler or toddler. The infinite recline to near flat means that comfort can be found for nap time as well. This stroller is rated from 6 mo and up, so it’s not for infants, but it will take you very far once your baby is ready. A very secure 5 point harness with padded strap covers and extendable leg rest means that your child can bee made as comfortable as possible and you can be comfortable as well knowing that even your more accomplished escape artists are secure in this seat. An added bonus, the 600D fabric will withstand abuse of all sorts and clean up nicely as well.

the joovy groove seat closeupSome of my favorite Joovy features are always those little touches that Joovy offers for both children and parents. I love the 2 mesh pockets in the seat sides. These really should be on all strollers, perfect for drinks, snacks or toys, keeping whatever your child needs securely at hand. Not to leave the big guys out- the back of the canopy offers 2 more mesh pockets and a zippered pouch for happy parents. Another feature that Joovy offers is the huge canopy with a viewing window to keep anxious parents at ease. Personally, this is a feature that Always makes me feel better even when my older children are on board. The basket is well sized for an umbrella stroller and the automatic lock and carry handle add to the convenience of this stroller. The newly designed tires are well sized for an umbrella stroller and offer sealed bearings for a smooth ride.  Also new is frame, which is quite snazzy. It’s rectangular aluminum frame is quite unique looking and my favorite part of this stroller (after those in-seat mesh pockets). As with any umbrella stroller, it offers an easy one handed fold that pops right down to a very compact package. Weighing in at 17 pounds, it’s not the lightest umbrella stroller, but it is comfortable to carry and is a great weight for such a large seat and high weight limit. I can easily fold & carry it with one hand while holding my hefty 2 year old in the other hand.

In use this stroller not only doesn’t disappoint, it exceeded my expectations. It took me seconds to pop on the front wheels, slide the canopy into it’s slots, make a few adjustments and we were off and ready to roll. Out and about, it’s just as effortless. Pushing with one or 2 hands was really easy over every terrain I tested. In fact, those bouncy front wheels did such a good job, that I started pointing the Groove at anything that I though t might stop it and nothing did. There are areas in my neighborhood that have sidewalks that will stop most strollers, but not the Groove. I aimed for broken sidewalks and just popped over, rolled straight through sloggy mud and wet grass without slowing. This stroller was fabulous. My daughter loved it too, especially the green color and the extendable leg rest where she happily rested her feet. At age 2 and 27 pounds, he has plenty of room in the seat, yet the harness adjusted perfectly down to her size. It was also super easy to recline and raise the seat one handed while rolling along, which is usually not the case with strap recline systems. Another great surprise.

The Groove is available in 4 colors Blueberry (a fabulous blue, and my favorite), Greenie, Orangie and Black and retails for $199.99. If you’re looking for an umbrella stroller that will last  with superb features and offers a exceptional value for the price, the Joovy Groove is an amazing option. Please visit the Joovy site for more details and to see the superb line of Joovy products.

* A sample was provided for review purposes

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The Joovy ScooterX2

Finding a lightweight double stroller that is heavy on features can be very difficult. Often you have to give up quite a bit to get something that is easy to carry around. The Joovy ScooterX2 is not one of those strollers. This exceedingly reasonably priced stroller (it’s just $199.99 and no, that’s not a mistake) offers features that are often found only in larger much more expensive strollers, but it weighs in at a svelte 28 pounds, great for a double. If what you need is a double that will offer a long term seat for your little ones, comfort and ease of use for both rider and parents in a lightweight package, the ScooterX2 is a great choice.

This stroller that folds down as easily as an umbrella stroller with a one-handed fold,  offers a fabulous full handlebar that makes one-handed pushing easy too. The basket is huge, really, really huge, and pockets are plentiful. Each well-sized seat offers those great Joovy mesh side of seat pockets to keep drinks, snacks or toys handy for both riders plus 2 rear cup holders and zippered pockets for parents. The ScooterX2 does not offer independent canopies, but the canopy is huge and offers great coverage for your riders. Our two testers were even sufficiently covered in a surprise rain shower, which was a great plus. More great features include the rear linked brake, infinite-position recline on each seat that allows each rider to be positioned perfectly from fully upright to a near flat position for little sleepers. The fold can actually be done one handed and it folds down to a nice, compact, flat package. The ScooterX2 is wrapped in a very sturdy  600D Fabric with reflective accents, another detail that is often only found on much more expensive strollers. This stroller will take whatever your little ones toss at it, or spill on it, and look great for years to come. A removable bumper bar and easily adjustable 5-point harness complete the package.

The most important part is of course, how it preforms. The ScooterX2 is a great lightweight double. Despite being very lightweight and smaller in stature than many doubles, it is a very solid ride. The ScooterX2 feels very stable and secure at all times and never felt tippy, unlike many smaller or medium-sized doubles we’ve tested. It handles well over most terrain too. I had a bit harder time pushing my 50 plus pounds worth of children (plus several bottles of water, snacks, my bag, a diaper bag, and 3 dozen cupcakes for the preschool picnic- I said the basket is huge) through the mulch at the playground than I did on the sidewalk getting there, but it handled bumps well and we still managed to run through the grass in the pouring rain without any trouble. And that one handed fold made it quick and easy to pop it into the car for the ride home and get quickly out of the rain. This is a great stroller if you need to take it in and out of the car over and over for trips to school or running errands. Plus with a good amount of headroom and 45 pound weight limit per seat, this is a stroller that you can use for the long term. And, if you don’t have the budget for one of those really expensive doubles, the ScooterX2’s $199.99 price tag is amazing, especially for all of the great features this stroller offers.

The ScooterX2 is available in 3 colors, Orangie, Greenie and Black. Please visit the Joovy website for more details or to buy this fabulous double stroller.

*Joovy provided a sample for review purposes

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The New Britax B-AGILE

I just want to start by saying that I love this little stroller. It’s fantastic. The brand new Britax B-AGILE is a perfect all around stroller. It may not take you off-roading through the very worst of terrain, but it will take you anywhere else. This stroller is lightweight, very full of the features you most desire and has a super easy fold that you will love.

The Britax B-AGILE is is very compact, you can stow it, trunk or closet, or carry it easily, up stairs or on public transportation. I can pick up my 26 pound 19 month old in one hand, fold it and carry it up the stairs with the other quite easily. It weighs in at 16.5 pounds, which is really great considering that this is not a bare bones umbrella stroller and you will find umbrella strollers that weigh more and offer less. Despite being compact and very lightweight, it has a very big seat that will hold whatever child you need to stroll and he or she will stroll in comfort. The seat is well sized with a great canopy that offers full coverage with a great ventilation flap and a peek a boo window for checking on the baby. All 4 of my children fit well in the wide seat with plenty of headroom and the fantastic harness is so easy to adjust for each (ages very large 1-very tall 6), that I can quickly fit it perfectly to each one without hassle or re-threading. The back of the seat unzips to expose a knob that you just squeeze and raise or lower to find the perfect harness height which brings the very lovely headrest pad right along with it for perfect placement and comfort every time. The recline is an infinite recline system, so you can position the seat anywhere from all the way up to all the way down, wherever your heart desires. The seat is suitable for birth right up to 55 pounds, so this stroller really can take you far. If you do wish to use a car seat with the B-AGILE, it includes the BRITAX CLICK & GO infant car seat receivers (optional adapters are available for most major brands of infant car seats), turning this already versatile stroller into a travel system.

Not only is the seat very comfortable and generously sized, but this stroller has all-wheel suspension for a super smooth ride, even over bumpy terrain. It doesn’t have huge air tires to take you through the worst all-terrain type spots, but it does do very well over anything you’re likely to encounter on a daily basis. The front wheels can be locked for rougher areas if needed, but we sailed through every spot on our usual test route, which can be rough on even the best of strollers. We rode over cobblestones, (very, very) bad sidewalks, grass and mulch and the B-AGILE  always maintained a very smooth ride for my child and an easy push for me, even one handed.  Storage is plentiful and the steering is great. It’s super easy to maneuver, even when the basket is filled to capacity or a larger rider is on board and I love the handlebar. It’s very comfy and it’s 1 piece design makes one handed strolling so easy. The B-AGILE also has a raised rear axle, so even a long stride is accommodated. The frame is also very well balanced and feels very solid and not at all tippy as some smaller strollers tend to feel.

The very best thing about the B-AGILE might just be the fold. It’s so very easy. If you’ve used a Baby Jogger City Mini, you’ve used this type of fold before, but the B-AGILE takes it a step further making it even easier. All you have to do is push in a button and pull up on the center seat handle, that’s it. It folds right down and even has an automatic lock. No, snaps to open and close, no manual lock, just push, pull and go. I really can pick up my hefty daughter and easily fold the stroller and walk right up the stairs. In fact, carrying the stroller is far easier than carrying my daughter. This is a great stroller for city living, in the suburbs where taking a stroller easily in and out of the car is a must or for travel. The B-AGILE can be a perfect single stroller for birth and up, lightweight and compact enough to take anywhere, fully featured enough to offer whatever you and your child needs from a stroller. Oh, and the price is great too, at just $249.99, you get a whole lot of stroller in a tiny, moderately priced package. I can think of so many strollers that offer less for a much higher price. The B-AGILE is the best all around single stroller that I have tried in awhile, well suited to so many needs, wants and situations.  All, I really, really want, is a double B-AGILE. Again, I say, I love it.

The B-AGILE is available in Black or Red. Optional accessories include car seat adapters, the UV/Mosquito Net, the Rain Cover, the Child Tray, the Adult Cup Holder and the very handy Travel Bag. Please visit the Britax site for more details and to watch the many videos detailing the finer attributes of this very wonderful little stroller. And look for the B-AGILE’s Stroller Squad on Facebook to see how fun the B-AGILE really is.

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The 2011 Maclaren Volo

Maclaren makes some of the very finest strollers in the world. There is a Maclaren to suite every situation and these are strollers that are built to last not just through 1 child, but for generations. The Volo is no exception. If you need a lightweight stroller that will go anywhere with you and still hold a 4 or even 5 year old on occasion, this is the one for you. At just under 9 pounds, this stroller will still hold a 55 pound child, yet is small enough to leave in the trunk, store in the  closet, carry on the bus or subway, throw over your shoulder when needed during a day at the zoo or to easily take on vacation. Suitable from 6 months and up, the Volo offers a full canopy, vey compact, one-handed fold (yes you can easily fold it while holding your child), secure and easily adjustable 5-point harness, aluminum frame, foot brake, nice sized basket and an very handy include raincover. Offered in 4 colors, the Volo retails for $129.00 and can be outfitted with the many handy Maclaren accessories for even more customization.

No need to take my word for how great this little stroller is. Below is a review from a mom who field tested the Volo on vacation.

Mom’s Search for the Perfect Stroller – our guest reviewer, Stephanie Hill, reviews the 2011 Maclaren Volo:

In the less than four years I’ve had two kids and four strollers, does something sound wrong about that ratio to you?! After years of searching for the right stroller we have finally found one that suits us – the Maclaren Volo! But let me back track … when our daughter was born we bought a large travel system. The matching stroller with a car seat, that matched the diaper bag and the pack n play, because of course this is what matters right? Practicality is overrated when you’re a new parent. My husband calls this stroller the “Cadillac,” because it’s large, hard to maneuver and doesn’t fit in tight spaces.

When our daughter was ten months old we found out we were expecting again, so it was time to trade in the “Cadillac” for the “limousine.” We purchased to a Tandem Sit & Stand stroller. Although this stroller served its purpose in that we could bring both kids places and keep them confined to one space, we faced the issue of leaving a wake of destruction in our path. We would bump into people as we tried politely to move around them, we’d pull the clothes off the racks in stores, I can’t even tell you how many times I ran over my own foot trying to back that thing up! Plus neither stroller seemed to ever have enough storage room underneath and squeezing into tight places proved impossible.

I was actually relieved when my daughter outgrew the stroller! Chasing her through the store had to be easier than dealing with either of these strollers. So, when she officially boycotted the stroller for good, we went out and bought an umbrella stroller. We decided that since we already owned two strollers, we could get by with an inexpensive umbrella stroller. Well, that was a joke. I mean, sure it was easier to move, but guess what? Small strollers have NO good features. The hood worked approximately once, the basket down below holds, well, practically nothing, not to mention there was no tray, no cup holder, nothing to brag about. Do I even need to mention that small strollers become very top heavy, so if you put bags and purses on the handles and take your child out, of course it’s all going to topple over! It took me, oh, I don’t know, 100 times to figure this out!

Late last year we decided we were going to take our kids on a real family vacation to Disney World in February. As excited as we were, we also faced the challenge of which stroller would be best to bring, the Cadillac, the limo, or the useless one? As you can imagine we weren’t excited about ANY of these options. Luckily, we were approached by Maclaren offering us a 2011 Maclaren Volo stroller to test out on our vacation! Of course THAT was an offer we couldn’t resist!

I know a lot of people who own Maclarens, and all of them are so pleased with their strollers. For some reason we had never tried one, but we learned very quickly that was a mistake! When we are traveling with two toddlers, two carseats, four suitcases and two carry-ons, having a stroller that we could use for both the kids and transporting some of our baggage was FANTASTIC!! The Volo has a nice size seat which makes it comfortable for either my 2 or 3 year old. The hood is very large, so in sunny Florida, we didn’t have to worry about too much sun exposure, and on those days when it rained, it offered nice protection for our little ones. The basket underneath was the perfect size for the bag we brought to the parks every day, and since it’s sturdy, when we put a few things on the handles, it didn’t go straight to the ground.

Although it’s a very basic stroller, I really enjoyed the many features of the Maclaren Volo. There is no recline with this model, but each of my children were able to fall asleep and stay asleep comfortably. When the kids weren’t using the stroller, we were able to put small suitcases or bags in the seat so we had less to drag around with us. It is easy to maneuver and fits nicely through tight spaces, and someone even remarked to me that it is really quiet, which I hadn’t considered, but they were right. The Maclaren Volo has a one hand fold so it opens and shuts quickly and easily, and is really light which is great when you are running to hop on the tram or the monorail. It also has a shoulder strap which makes it easy to carry, and leaves mom’s hands free for the kids. The other thing that I LOVED was that when the stroller is shut and locked it takes up very little trunk space. I certainly can’t say THAT for either of our first 2 strollers. The only thing I wish it had is a tray for snacks/drinks for the munchkins, but it has so many positive features, this is something I can overlook. Maclaren gave us one of the new 2011 colors – called Deep Water. It’s the perfect shade for either a boy or a girl!

But if you don’t believe me, maybe the testimonial of a little Maclaren Volo user herself will convince you.  I asked my daughter what she thought of it, and she answered simply, with a huge smile and a nod “I love it.”

Please visit the Maclaren site for more information and to see the full line of Maclaren strollers

Disclosure: Maclaren provided Stephanie with a Volo for the review, which she was allowed to keep.

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Livie & Luca

Now that I have a girl I’m just starting to look more closely at girl specific items after many years with 3 boys. I’m not a girlie, girl myself, but my daughter is, so I’ve been looking for stylish, pretty items that will please us both. She’s only 16 months old, but she already knows what she likes. I have to say that my favorite new find for her would have to be her Livie & Luca shoes. Whenever I’ve seen them in the past I’ve always thought how cute they are, so when given the chance to try out a pair for my daughter, I was thrilled. As soon as I had a pair in my hands I was even more impressed than I expected to be.

The entire Live & Luca line is so incredibly cute, you will have a very hard time choosing  a single pair. You will in fact want all of them, as I did. I only wish I’d tried them sooner on my boys. Not only gorgeous, adorable, incredibly sweet and very, very stylish, these are amazing shoes for little feet. They are as soft, comfy and flexible as they are  adorable.  Each pair of beautifully produced Live & Luca shoes is handmade with non-toxic glues and eco & people-friendly practices (Livie & Luca will even recycle them for you by donating them to Art for Humanity). The soles are very light and so very flexible, you will wish they came in your size too. The designs are perfect for little girls, stylish, modern and whimsical. There is a design to suit the girliest girl to those that like something a bit more understated, from sandals to rough and tumble play shoes, you will find what you need for your little girl with Live & Luca. Not just for girls, there are several several styles for boys (see the Ferris Coaster, below) and unisex styles (see the Brussels options) that all of your little ones can be happy in Livie & Luca.

Sizes run from 4-13, so you can start your little one in these amazing shoes and keep right on going with them through preschool or maybe a bit later. We have the Peacock Fuschia Mary Jane (shown at top) and they are even cuter in person than the picture. My daughter immediately wanted them on her feet and pets them happily every time she wears them. The color combination is quite striking and funky, which pleases me, and yet do pretty that she is thrilled. Put her in her Livie & Lucas and a princess dress or tutu and she could not be happier. I also love that they fit her so well, are made so beautifully with such responsible practices and still are so light and flexible that I know she’s going to be comfortable. I really could not be happier. I will only be sad when she is finally too big to wear Livie & Lucas, but luckily we still have a few years and at least 2 boys also within the Live & Luca size range. Yeah! Try a pair for you child and I expect that you will be as happy as we are. Please visit the Livie & Luca site for more information about all of their amazing work to give back and protect the planet while producing their amazing line of shoes and to see the full Spring line. But be warned, it is not possible to just pick one pair to love.

*Livie & Luca provided a sample for review

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