The New Verve from phil&teds

The Verve is a brand new addition to the phil&teds line, as well as to the single to double world, and it is fabulous. I love this stroller and it very quickly has become my daily stroller of choice. The Verve offers a great set of features and amazing performance wrapped up in a very stylish package. It offers all of the benefits of the Explorer with many upgrades that are more than worth the extra price, such as the reclining doubles kit seat and the fold with the second seat attached plus a fabulous 4th wheel for those of us who prefer 4 over the sportier 3.

The Verve offers amazing functionality as both a single or inline double. The stroller features include a contoured, very comfortable, ventilated seat, 2 front airless tires with suspension,  2 rear pneumatic tires, one-handed infinite recline (though you’ll need two hands to raise the seat), finger-touch hand brake (so very convenient, especially if you have a walking or running toddler), 6 position adjustable handle, secure & ever so easy to adjust 5-point harness, follow the sun canopy, removable  bumper bar, the option of the doubles kit seat (offering a 3 position recline and canopy) and a very compact standing fold with the doubles kit seat attached or not (This, I truly love). The Verve is also one of the lightest feeling fully-featured double stroller options that you will find. It offers phil&teds’ 7-in-one adaptability, which means you have 7 possible seating options for 1 or 2 children, newborn to toddler. With the Verve, you have the option of having a newborn ride flat in the main seat with the doubles kit seat attached in front or you can use the optional car seat adapter to use your car seat as a travel system and still use the double skit seat in the rear position, which is fabulous. Accessories include single and double storm or sun covers, the peanut bassinet and the travel bag. There are also several other phil&teds accessories available that can be used to customize your Verve, such as the drink holders, seat liners or the food tray. The Verve is available in 2 colors- Black or Red and retails for $699.99, add $119.99 for the doubles kit.

The Verve is a slightly scaled down 4-wheeled version of the phil&teds Vibe, the more upscale, stylish model in the line. The frame is 10 % smaller overall, but still has that same modern, very cool look that you find with the Vibe. The big addition is the 4th wheel which offers a truly great ride. The Verve offers 2 large rear air tires and 2 no-flat foam front tires with suspension. I’m not always a huge fan of front foam tires, especially when you have the air tires in back. They often tend to reduce the benefits of the rear air tires since they just don’t have the same pop that gets you over the big bumps smoothly. This is not a problem with the Verve. First of all the front wheels are well sized- much larger than most from airless tires I’ve tested- and the suspension is  amazing. The combination of the two really make a difference. The Verve really does pop right over anything in your path. I haven’t been able to find the spot that will trip it up yet. Plus because this really is a lightweight double, the ride is smooth and the push is effortless. Fully loaded or with 2 smaller riders, you have very similar performance to pushing a single, this stroller glides everywhere we take it. Three wheels may be “sportier”, but there is nothing that will hold this stroller back. You will be just as happy cruising through the mall or museum or trudging through the muckity yuck on the way to the soccer field or playground. And the size is quite sporty and light with a stylish design that will look great anywhere you go. I’ve been getting oohs and aahs everywhere I take it.

I knew I would like the Verve as soon as I saw the initial details and I was even more impressed once I had the actual stroller in my hands. At first I thought it was just a very cool stroller, an extra snazzy single to double. A great choice for someone with 1 or 2 children but probably not the right stroller for us with our  extreme stroller needs. After all, 4 children (ages 5, 3, 2 &1) not only take up quite a bit of space when you add in all of their gear, toys, snacks and whatnot, but add some very specific requirements that most strollers just can’t meet.  Only 2 ride at a time, but all 4 take up quite a bit of basket real estate and we usually lean towards a much bigger stroller. We tend to roll in the extra large, super rugged SUV/Minivan sized stroller, while the Verve is more of a very stylish sports car- sleek and streamlined, but with the 4WD sensibilities that will take it off road with ease. Well, it turns out that when you realize how much you love the sports car, you just find a way to make it work and that is exactly what we’ve done, we make it work and it’s fabulous. If you’re concerned about storage space when your basket is filled with feet, we have had no issues so far and we take the Verve to school every day. There’s actually room under the seat for items you don’t need to grab constantly and we’ve pulled out our old phil&teds shop & drop parcel tray pack to hold everything we need to lug around in the basket. I just fill it up, drop it in and the feet float on top while the cargo is safe from prying hands and kicking feet.  Not only does this stroller just look sportier, it feels so much lighter, zippier too that I really couldn’t stand the idea of not using it.

I’ve been using the Verve every day for several weeks. My initial run through, turned into a few day test, which turned into rolling the stroller we had been using right into storage where it still sits many weeks later. I have taken the Verve everywhere, literally, that I can think of to test this little wonder and I  love it more every day. The push is very similar whether I have my 1 year old daughter riding alone or I add her 2 year old brother in the back. I can push 1 handed so easily, that I am still surprised how easy it is. We bump over really bad sidewalks, through crowds and mud and wet mulch, in the market, at school, and everywhere we go this stroller is a pleasure to push. My children love it too. I also love that we don’t take up as much of the sidewalk or aisle, which means we get oh so many less nasty looks from unsympathetic non-stroller users. It also means we can jet through crowded sidewalks on the way to school easily, make tight turns or back up without feeling like we need a warning beeper and back up lights.

One of my favorite things about phil&teds inlines is that the front seat really is an actual full-sized even a really big kid can ride kind of seat. For us that means that not only is it a great single, but it can still hold the bigger riders when it needs to. I can easily load my sleeping, massive just about 4 year old into the front seat, slide my sleeping 2 year old into the rear seat (that reclining rear seat makes this a snap) and push one handed while carrying my 1 year old.  This is not possible in several other inlines we’ve tried- if they both fit in the seats, the stroller is so hard to push I really need 2 hands and maybe a bit of hip to shove it along. Of course, the rear seat is a rear seat and some people have concerns about whether or not their child will want to ride in the back or having them so low. All 4 of my children have been happy in the back of a phil&teds, they often ask for the rear seat. It’s a great spot for a baby because it’s protected from the full frontal assault of the world and the recline really makes it a great spot for sleeping. When they get bigger, the recline make sit easier to get them in and out, especially if they do fall asleep. My 2 year old only wants to ride in the back, he calls it his “rocket seat”, and he can easily be taken in and out while his sister continues to ride. Though if I do have to pull her out first for some reason, the stroller is so stable that I don’t have to worry about tipping.

What I think I love most is that I can easily and quickly take this stroller in and out of the car over and over and it just doesn’t ever get bothersome. The Verve can hold 2 children of varying sizes yet I can pick it up without breaking my back as I do when lugging around my 40 pound side by side or having to deal with 2 or 3 pieces I have to put together and take apart over and over. The Verve is not a one step fold, but it is so easy that you won’t care. I can get the Verve in and out of the car so fast and it’s so easy that I’m still surprised.  Many strollers that offer ease in this area don’t offer a great ride, but not the Verve. It’s just fabulous in every way. The folding process can take a bit of getting used to, but as long as you remember to keep the wheels facing out, your stroller will easily fold down into a very compact package that locks up tight, stands on its own and can easily be lifted without strain. It’s such a smooth process and  you don’t have to worry about banged shins, pinched fingers or fighting to get it locked. And you will be hard pressed to find a stroller for 2 with so many features that will fold up as compactly and feel so comparatively light. If you’re a brand new double user or you’re used to an umbrella stroller, it might seem a bit heavier than what you’re used to, but if you have really lived with a fully featured double for any length of time, you’ll be doing a little dance when you realize how light this is to lift and then to push, even with 70 pounds on board.

phil&teds Verve is a stroller that you can buy for your first, push it happily through country or city and be all set to go when baby 2 arrives. The easily removable rear seat also means that you’re never locked into a double stroller when you don’t need it. If you know that you’ll not need the second seat, the Verve is still a great stroller. The ride is superb, as are the features. You really can take this stroller anywhere. The Verve mixes a modern style that will look great no matter where you travel with the exceptional functionality you need if you have to conquer anything beyond the flat roll of the mall. Bumpy sidewalks and cobblestones or wet grassy parks and playgrounds will never get in your way. Add a super comfy, reclining second seat and a one piece fold and it can’t miss. When it comes to double strollers, there are many that I really like, but not many that will actually work for me on a daily basis. The Verve is one of the few that I not only love, but it really works for us which says quite a lot about how fantastic this stroller really is.

For even more details, please visit the phil&teds site.

* phil&teds provided a sample for review

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The Valco Astro Highchair

image of the valco cirque astro highchair

I have been a big fan of Valco products for years. I adore their strollers (and own 3), so I was thrilled to finally get to try out the Valco Astro HIghchair. The Astro is quite an amazing little highchair. If you need a small, easy to store highchair or you just don’t want a big highchair taking up too much floor space in your kitchen or dining room, the Astro is perfect. I recently tested the Cirque Astro and I was very, very impressed by what I found inside that surprisingly small box.

folded astro highchairThis attractive, modern looking highchair has a very modern fold that is very flat and very compact. The Astro is so easy to pop up and down and so easy to carry, you really can easily just pull it out when you need it and place it where ever you want. It even comes out of the box ready to go, no assembly needed which is such a huge plus. Some small highchairs can be hard to carry or bang your legs while you lug them around, not the Astro. The fold is not just compact, it’s very flat, secure and lightweight. You can easily carry it with one hand with your baby in the other. The nice flat, curved metal base gives a very secure footing when up, but is also what allows it to have such a nice flat fold and gives you a great spot to grab for transporting around the house. You can fold it with one hand and it smoothly drops down into it’s flat folded position. Unfolding is so easy too, just grab the back and pull up to open and you have a very stable, sturdy little highchair with a nice comfy seat that will fit your child for as long as you need the highchair with a 44 pound weight limit. The Cirque model ($179.00) that I tested offers the same black and white print as the Cirque line of strollers with a very nice black frame and a recline. It’s great modern design is so attractive, that you won’t mind leaving it out even though it is so easy to stow away. Offered in 4 other colors ($149.00, without the recline), Ivory, Graphite, Chocolate and Aqua leatherette with a silver frame, all models offer a 5 point harness and a 3 position tray.  With the optional travel bag, you can even take it with you on the road, so no need to have an extra highchair at the grandparents house.

astro aqua highchairIf you live in a small space, where storage space is at a premium and everything is visible, you need a highchair that looks great when up, but folds away into a nice small package which makes the Astro is perfect. Or if you just want an attractive modern highchair that is easy to use, the Astro is a great option as well. I truly wish we’d had the Astro while we were living in an apartment, but now that we’re in a house and have plenty of room, I still love this highchair. I can place it anywhere or tuck it away in a flash and it still offers a comfy seat for my children. Please visit the Valco webiste for more details and to see the rest of the amazing Valco products.

* A sample was provided for review

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