This Week’s Top Picks

Air Beds : Last week’s top pick: Baby Trend Pack N Play. This week’s pick: Combi Playard Sport Lawn Combi Playard Sport Lawn: Combi Playard playpens are a new addition to the growing lineup of portable cribs and changing stations. The Combi Playard Sport combines Combi’s distinct design sense with a long list of functional elements to create a comfortable, musical environment for your child to rest and develop. From infancy into early toddler-dom, the Combi Playard Sport will safely accommodate your child as they grow and adapt to the world around them. As a spare bed, these portable Combi playpens work any place you can find the space: in your home, in your mother’s living room, or on a nice day at the park. What does the Playard Sport offer for infant children? Combi’s Playard Sport has a diaper changing station that rests on the side of the playpen. Just flip it over the side and you have a safe and comfortable spot-at your height-to change your baby’s diapers and clothes. Flip the changing station back over the side to get it out of the way. A removable bassinet with hanging mobile toys hangs inside the Playard and rocks gently when your baby moves about. It comes with hanging mobile toys and is suitable for children up to 15 lbs.  The Playard Sport is also equipped with LED lights, music, and a vibration mechanism. All of these added features will stimulate and soothe your baby while they rest or play comfortably inside. The playpen supports children up to 30 lbs. and the changing table children up to 25 lbs. What does the Playard Sport offer for parents? The entire Combi Playard Sport playpen folds up neatly and easily to be stored and transported in the included carry bag. The whole pen is built on a sturdy and stable steel frame, the locking wheels on one end make it easier to reposition the Playard when needed. There are also large storage compartment on the side to stash diapers, toys, and other necessities.  Combi also offers the Playard DX, which is functionally identical to the Playard Sport but comes in much more subtle designs and includes a stand to attach the bassinet. The bassinet stand of the Playard DX can rock or remains stationary, and has a big storage basket underneath.


The InSTEP Run Around LTD is InSTEP’s mid-range double jogging stroller. The Run Around LTD 2 has 16″ spoked steel wheels and a suspension system in the rear, and a fixed 12″ wheel up front. With 5-point harnesses, individually reclining seats, and a large retractable sunshade, one child can sleep or recline comfortably while the other sits upright to catch the view. There’s a large underside storage basket and additional pockets as well. Somewhat heavy, but narrow, the Run Around LTD 2 folds up much more compactly than many other double strollers on the market. Bottom Line: This very affordable double is stripped down but totally functional and practical. What it lacks in popular features (like an adjustable handle height) it makes up for in price and utility. The Run Around LTD 2 cannot be referred to as a certifiable “jogging stroller“, a better term would be “all terrain”. The 12″ front wheel makes its usefulness for the serious jogger minimal, and the fixed front wheel makes its utility limited for parents who plan on spending a lot of time weaving through mall aisle ways or shopping in the city. Serious joggers looking for an affordable double may want to check out the Ultra Runner 2, or a Schwinn Free Runner 2, whereas die-hard mall shoppers and urban residents may find the swivel wheel design of a Mall Cruiser 2 or Safari TT Double, all from InStep, more to their liking.


Want To Relax?

Last evening I was late in getting home from work. Sometimes I think that Karma, whoever the hell she is, gets a kick out of making my life miserable. So I drive into the garage and announce with all the enthusiasm that I can muster, “Honey I’m home.” I know it sounds cliché, right? But that’s what my life has become of late. The only bright spots in this otherwise dreary existence is my beautiful and enchanting wife and the spa installed in our garden alcove at her insistence. Where do I begin, the boring life or the beautiful wife and the spa. Maybe I should give you a little background.

I am an attorney married to an amazing woman who runs a professional blog on food. A few years ago, I was ambitious, driven and raring to conquer the world. Now I just look forward to a quiet evening with my wife and a dip in the spa after a long day. I work for one of those mega law firms you see in the cables all the time, based in LA. A year or so ago, I made junior partner at the age of 28. Man, I was ecstatic. Little did I know that it was just the fattening before the slaughter.

One of our Senior Partners, let’s call him Mike, went on early retirement on health grounds. The junior partner who has been running our branch in Modesto was thus recalled to take up his slot, and the unenviable task of heading the Modesto branch fell upon me as the junior partner. I swear before that, I never even knew where Modesto was on the map, I had only heard it vaguely mentioned in conversations. Anyway, I pitched the idea to my wife, who surprised me by embracing it enthusiastically. That’s how we ended up in Modesto, living in a quaint bungalow owned by the Firm.

The garden has this awesome alcove that I wanted to turn into an outdoors study area for my leisure reading, so I took my wife to the local home depot to help me choose a rocking chair. Big mistake! By the end of the day, we settled on this antique chair made of teak, polished until its surface shone, until my wife Jean saw the spa on offer, and my life was turned upside down. After arguing for a few minutes, the sales lady, God bless her, called me aside and whispered into my ear, “Sir, please listen to your wife, you’ll thank me later.” I am really glad I did, and I thank the Lord for her every day.

The daily ritual of soaking up in the spa after a long day sipping a glass of chilled wine has become something to live for. Which is why I was so mad to miss it yesterday, or rather to do it alone, as my wife had long since retired to bed. In my opinion everyone should have the daily ritual of ending the night in one of the many spas in Modesto for sale.