Packing Shoes and Carrying Blankets

Here are two travel add-ons that you’ll definitely want to have along on your next road trip.

eagle creek shoe sacPack-It Specter Shoe Sac (Eagle Creek)
Shoes. We need ‘em, but they present a packing dilemma. Besides taking up a lot of space in your luggage, they’re often dirty and/or smelly. A lot of people use plastic grocery bags to segregate shoes and clothes, put the shoes in a separate compartment, or both. Eagle Creek has come up with a better way. Unlike grocery bags, Shoe Sacs are sturdy and water repellant—which means you don’t have to worry about your muddy, wet shoes making everything else in your suitcase filthy. They come in several colors and are washable. As nice as they are for travel, Shoe Sacs are also great for any time you might need to change shoes (such as after a long hike or run). $18.

skip hop travel blanketSkip Hop Zoo Travel Blankets (Skip Hop, Inc.)
Part blanket, part pillow, and part stuffed animal, these travel blankets are perfect for snuggling with on any trip—or even at home. If you start your adventure with the animal in portable-pillow mode, your child can easily pull out the blanket for nap time and just as easily stuff it back inside after. And the straps make it easy to lug around. Comes in Ladybug, Monkey, and Owl. $20.00.

Luggable Luggage Makes Travel More Fun

With summer upon us, road (or plane or boat) trips, with all the associated packing and schlepping, aren’t far behind. Here are a two pieces of luggage that can help make those family vacays and adventures go as smoothly as possible.

wicked cool vrum ride onVRÜM Ride-On Storage (Wicked Cool Toys)
Kids often have trouble deciding which toys and games to take with them. With VRUM luggage, they can take everything—and best of all, you won’t have to carry it. VRUM is a sturdy, hard-sided, rolling suitcase that’s easy for a child to pull. And if your child gets tired on the long walk to gate 264, he or she can sit on it and scoot along. (You can pull it with your child riding on it, but that’s a bit challenging). Straps inside can keep toys and clothes separated (or toys from falling over and hurting themselves), and it locks securely so there’ll be no emergency pickups on the jetway. VRUM comes in a number of licensed characters, including Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, SpongeBob, and Dora the Explorer. $39.99.

wildkin rolling packRolling backpacks (Wildkin)
One of the worst parts about trips with kids is that mom and dad often end up hauling around the kids’ luggage in addition to their own. Frankly, we think it’s high time for the kids to help out—especially if they’re old enough to have outgrown the VRUM Ride-On. If you agree, you won’t have to look any further than Wildkin, which has a wide variety of wheeled options. Their rolling backbacks have plenty of room, lots of zippered compartments, mesh dividers, and water bottle pockets. They also have adjustable shoulder straps, just in case you’re going over terrain that’s unfriendly to wheels. Wildkin also has duffels, tote bags, larger rolling luggage for bigger kids, and more. Each option is available in a variety of designs that make them easy to spot on a luggage carousel. There are cute animals, mermaids, and construction equipment for little kids and more sophisticated prints for teens. They’re all built to last. $49.99 and up.

Scion FRS – Wow, That’s Fast

mrdad - Scion FRS dual spedometers

mrdad - Scion FRSYears ago, wife and I had a Volvo. It was pretty new and very snazzy looking, but it spent a lot of time in the shop. I found that really annoying, but my wife didn’t seem to mind. “It’s a European car,” she’d say. “You just have to get used to it.” Well, I never did. So when we divorced, I was thrilled to trade my interest in the Volvo for a few other items with better repair records.

I’m bringing this up because, as I was putting the Scion FRS (which the brand provided, with the understanding that all opinions in this review would be mine alone) through its paces, the phrase “you just have to get used to it” kept popping into my mind. But in a much more positive way.

First, the FRS is a Toyota brand so I wouldn’t expect it to come anywhere near a mechanic unless it was for scheduled maintenance. I could definitely get used to that. Second, the FRS is a sports car, a real-life, fast-as-hell, head-turning, takes-turns-like-it’s-on-a-rail sports car. So, yeah, I could get used to that.

mrdad - Scion FRS dual spedometersThird, it’s not a luxury car, which means it doesn’t have a lot of the features you’d find on a Lexus, for example. There’s no multi-zone climate control, no collision warning sensors, and no rear backup camera. That last part gets us back to the sports car: This is a vehicle that you’ll be driving forwards, probably faster than you should be. So why spend the money on a feature you’ll never use? It does, however, have two speedometers: one digital, one analog, just in case you need confirmation that you’re really going as fast as you think you are.

The FRS is incredibly fun to drive. So much so that it created an interesting problem: During the week I had it, I put a lot more miles on it than I usually do. And it took me a little longer to get places than it usually does. The reason? I found myself taking the most circuitous routes between points A and B that I could find. The more turns the better. Yep, I think I could get used to that too.

MSRP for the base model FRS is $24.900. Fog lights, a rear spoiler, and a few other upgrades brought the price to just a shade under $28,000. The official MPG numbers are 22 city, 30 highway, but that may be when the car is driven at legal speeds. Chances are you’ll go over the limit. Hey, it’s a sports car, so get used to it.

RSVP #BackyardBiteback Twitter Party June 14 2015 at -7pm-est/

RSVP #BackyardBiteBack Twitter Party

 June 14th 7pm EST!

June 14th at 7pm EST we are having the #BackyardBiteBack Twitter Party!!!

Sponsored by Dynatrap

Dynatrapis a maker of pesticide-free and environmentally friendly insect traps. On June 14, we are having a fun “Backyard Battle” Twitter party between @BabyCostcutters and @MrDad to see who rules the backyard and to encourage bug-free time spent outdoors. We will discuss what makes a great backyard bash and and how to prevent bugs from crashing the party–even if you happen to be inside. 

Of course a party has prizes! Dynatrap will be giving away 4 prize packs and 1 grand prize. 

Grand Prize

  • Dynatrap DT2000XL
  • Dynazap
  • $100 gift card to Frontgate/Home Depot

 Prizes 3-4

  • Dynazap
  • $50 gift card to Frontgate/Home Depot

Prizes 1-2

  • Dynazap
  • $25 gift card to Frontgate/Home Depot

Here’s what you need to do if you want to participate

June 14, 2015 from 7pm EST to 8pm EST
Hashtag:  #BackyardBiteBack

Four things you MUST do to make the event work for everyone:

  1. RSVP below.
  2. During the party to view discussions and comments you must set up a #BackyardBiteBack search on, make sure to click on “all” so you can see the current tweets and not just the “top” tweets. Of course you could also use TweetDeck, TweetChat, or Hootsuite if you are familiar with them. 
  3. Make sure you are following our Sponsor @Dynatrap, our Host: @BabyCostcutters & @MrDad, and our co-host: @ItsFreeAtLast,  @MomsWhoSave and @momstart
  4. To make comments and/or replies you must include #BackyardBiteBack somewhere in your Tweet on Twitter. This is the only way your comment can be seen by the group at the event.


  RSVP to be eligible to win prizes during out twitter party!  

 To be eligible to win prizes from the twitter party you must be a legal residents of the fifty (50) United States or the District of Columbia who are 18 years of age or older at the time of entry.

How to RSVP

Below, click “add your link”.

For the “URL” put your full url to your twitter account. Example, mine is:

In the “Name” put your @twitterhandle. Example, mine is: @mrdad.

Then enter your email address. 

Got Bugs? We’ve Got Solutions at the #BackyardBiteback Twitter Party

mrdad - Dynatrap-Twitter-Party_BackyardBiteBack

mrdad - Dynatrap-Twitter-Party_BackyardBiteBack

I love summer, the sports, the time outside, the opportunity fo leave the windows open all day long, and those warm evenings that seem to go on for hours and hours. But I’m not alone. Billions of bugs take advantage of those same things–especialy those open windows–to feast on the blood of the unsuspecting–and unprotected–humans who live in my house.

In most places, window screens do a great job of keeping bugs and thier victims separated. But, as (bad) luck would have it, the people who built my condo complex didn’t install screens. And since the windows are all custom sizes, it would cost about $1500 to have them made. That seemed like overkill (although when it comes to mosquitos, there’s no such thing as overkill).

So to solve this annoying problem, I’m partnering with @BabyCostcutters and @Dynatrap, makers of pesticide-free and environmentally friendly insect traps. On June 14, we are having a fun “Backyard Battle” Twitter party between @BabyCostcutters and @MrDad to see who rules the backyard and to encourage bug-free time spent outdoors. We will discuss what makes a great backyard bash and and how to prevent bugs from crashing the party–even if you happen to be inside.

RSVP to the Twitter Party here.

The Paranoid Dad’s Intro to Finding Secure Mobile Hotspots

mrdad - ATT  netgear mobile hotspot

mrdad - ATT  netgear mobile hotspotAT&T and NETGEAR provided a unit to facilitate this review. However, as with everything I write, all opinions are my own.

As a full-time writer, I can work anywhere; all I really need is a good Internet connection and an electrical outlet. Over the years, I’ve worked in hundreds of coffee shops, airports, offices, libraries, and dozens of hotels, and have taken full advantage of their free wi-fi. In a few cases, I even paid for it. But whether I paid or not, I’ve always clicked through the “Information sent over this network might be visible to others” warning without giving it a second thought. After all, nobody would really look at my data, right? Wrong. Very, very wrong.
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