Favorite Things in February and March

February and March were full and eventful, and our favorite things this time around are things that make daily life a little smoother, and that have allowed us to better enjoy big events like the Full-time Families Rally and our Disney vacation.

Once again we are using Amazon affiliate links when possible. If you’re interested in any of this month’s favorite things, we’d love it if you’d use our link when you order.

1. Our stroller and “soft lift” from Sweden. When Emelie was a baby, we bought a new-to-us umbrella stroller at a secondhand store. It was a few steps above the basic umbrella style and we liked that it gave us almost the same function as a regular stroller but folded up small. A couple of weeks later, it broke on an airplane and SAS bought us a new one. The store appraised the broken stroller at about 10x what we paid for it and we were able to replace it with a brand new Maclaren stroller. (The exact model of our stroller has been discontinued. The link is for the newer version currently available. We can’t say for sure if the details are the same.)

The lift has been Micah’s bed since we brought him home from the hospital. Though they weren’t made to go together (and are even from different brands) the lift fits in the Maclaren when the backrest is all the way reclined, which enabled us to use a travel stroller even with a newborn. It also fits perfectly beside our bed in the camper and can be easily moved without waking him up. He’ll be too big for it very soon and we’ll definitely miss the convenience.

We had already put a lot of miles on the stroller even before Micah was born, and we have been so satisfied with it! But the reason it makes the list now for February and March is how helpful it was at Disney World. Its size makes it easy to maneuver and park, but at the end of the day, when a line of people are boarding Disney buses and waking their sleeping children in order to fold up the strollers, we got lots of questions and comments as we lifted Micah in his bed and carried him on with easy handles without disturbing him at all. The stroller folded up easily and slid under the seat. I’ve repeated the word ‘easy’ here a lot, but that’s what makes it a favorite. It’s easy.

Maclaren

Handy Manny liked the stroller too. Unfortunately, he visited us during Micah’s nap time.

2. Our collapsible wagon. This wagon has been used to take all our stuff back and forth to beaches, picnic areas, and even the potluck dinners at the FtF Rally. We take it down forest paths when we collect firewood. It’s strong and has big enough wheels to roll through sand and over tree roots as needed. (I wouldn’t say it rolls easily through the sand, but then again, what does?) Then we just fold it up and slide it easily in the back of the car or in a storage compartment.

firewood collecting

Ready for a Campfire!

3. Two-way Radios.  When our older two kids were babies, we used a traditional audio baby monitor, which worked fine until it didn’t. When we were traveling with a camper and wanted to join friends around the campfire while the kids slept, we often found we were limited in range. It was frustrating but short-lived since they stopped working altogether before too long. We knew we wanted something different for Micah. Enter the walkie-talkies. These have a monitor function that we use just like a baby monitor. We have also used them on the road to communicate between cars when we’re traveling with someone else. At the Rally, we gave one to Emelie and let her go play with friends elsewhere at the fairgrounds without us. It gave her a little extra independence while still being able to reach us if she needed anything, and we could check in regularly and easily tell her when it was time to come home.

This was not the first set of radios we tried. The first set wasn’t sensitive enough in the monitor mode for what we wanted. These work well.

baby monitor

Radios in the charging station, ready for their next adventure.

4. Power Drill. For Christmas, Staffan got a basic set of battery-powered tools that all use the same battery. It’s so convenient to still be able to use them even when we are boondocking and charge them when we have the opportunity. They’ve been really useful as we work on making minor improvements to the camper, such as adding shelves to our cabinets. We even added an air compressor in the same system, helping us keep our tires properly inflated. They’re handy to have. But what puts them on this list is that the drill can be used to raise and lower the support legs of the camper, which saves about 10 minutes of hand cranking every time we set up camp or hook up to leave. Saving the time and effort makes moving days easier on everyone, which makes it one of our favorite things.

ryobi drill

A well-supported camper at the push of a button.

5. Levelers. Sometimes, even at nice campgrounds, the parking spot is just not level. It doesn’t look too bad, but inside everything feels slanted. Toys rolling away from kids and a bathroom door that keeps swinging open into the walkway are minor inconveniences, but it also causes our refrigerator to run less efficiently and other problems. Imagine trying to cook if your stove and oven were slanted. In our Swedish camper, we backed up onto boards, which works fine if it’s only an inch or two off, but raising it higher starts to get complicated. These levelers have simplified our lives both setting and breaking camp. No backing onto boards, only to find we need to add one more and starting over. Or needing to raise a little more but less than the thickness of the board we have left. These allow us to quickly and easily adjust however we need to.

RV levelers

Here we only needed to raise a little bit. But these allow us to raise one side by up to 4 inches.

 

What are your favorite things that are making life easier or more pleasant for you lately?

 

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