Author: Mommy to Max

North Aware Smart Parka Review – A Kickstarter Scam

I’m not one to write negative reviews. It brings me joy to share things I love with people. This review gives me no joy at all.

In a way, I’m embarrassed to write about this because I feel like I got totally chumped.

The first time I heard about North Aware was in March 2016, when I was scrolling through my Facebook feed. The headline jumped out at me – “Smart Parka, Raises over $1 Million on Kickstarter with 22 days to go.”

Interest piqued, I clicked on the link and I saw mockups of winter coats, for both men and women, set to be delivered in September or October 2016.

Looks pretty awesome. NOT!

“Perfect timing for the winter,” I thought. “I’ll get a great product for a great price,” I thought. “All the other Kickstarter backers who came before me couldn’t be wrong,” I thought.

I bought two Smart Parkas – one for me and one for my husband.

Well, September rolled around. No Coat. Then October. Then November. Then December.

I mean, we were already halfway through winter at this point.

Finally, in the last week of January, the package arrived.


Blog Income & Traffic Report – April 2017

I’m officially going to publish an income & traffic report every 6 months. More frequently than that and I feel like it’s more of a chore than something I, myself, want to see. But when I can look back over a half year, I’m better able to reflect on my blog’s growth.

I started blogging in October 2014 – so I’ve been at this game for 2 and a half years now! I think starting a blog is much like starting a restaurant – 90% of them fail. I’ve followed a fair number of bloggers that have petered off over the years. I’m proud to say that I am still here, chug-chugging along. I can’t predict what the future will hold, but I know that as long as I love what I do, then I’m happy to keep doing it.


Best Toddler & Preschooler Shoes: PLAE Shoes Review

I’ve been meaning to write a review for PLAE shoes for years at this point. That’s how long I’ve loved them and how long I’ve personally recommended this brand of shoes to friends and acquaintances.

I don’t know why I haven’t written a review in all that time, but it’s definitely long overdue.

I am a big advocate of flexible soles in footwear for pre-walkers and young children. I’ve featured baby moccasins several times on my blog, for that very reason. But, as kids get older, they need more protection and support from their footwear.

However, flexible soles still remain essential to healthy foot development. Not to mention that, with the amount of running, jumping, and climbing that kids do, flexible soles allow them to stay connected with the ground or surface they are climbing on.

Ever since Max graduated from moccasins, I have only bought PLAE sneakers and boots for him to wear. We are on our 4th or 5th pair at this point.

ty the sneaker

So, why do I love this brand of shoes so much?!


Best Place to Buy Plumbing Fixtures (and How I Saved a Ton of Money)

I know, I know. I run a mommy review blog so why the heck have I been blogging so much about home renovations lately?!

Well, I write about what’s relevant in my life and, at the moment, it’s all I can think about. (Sorry, not sorry.)

Anyway, I just saved $1,673.42, when buying plumbing fixtures and I KNOW this information would have been helpful to me. I’m hoping that these tips will help save YOU some money!

So we are planning on gut renovating two bathrooms and the kitchen. As part of the process, I have to purchase the fixtures (e.g., faucets, sinks, lights, hardware, etc.)

While trying to figure out what I wanted to buy, I visited a few kitchen & bath showrooms. However, I think they have intentionally deceptive practices by leaving out model names, prices and/or are non-intuitive when browsing unless, perhaps, you speak with a salesperson. When I did get pricing, they were always substantially higher than what I could find online.

I hate buying things in stores that I can buy cheaper elsewhere. If I had a mantra, it would probably be: Buy high-quality products at the cheapest possible price you can find for that product.

So I started searching for the things I wanted online. Normally, Amazon is my go-to retailer for baby products but when it comes to buying fixtures, I wouldn’t recommend it. Not only is it not more cost-effective, but it is also difficult to navigate unless you know exactly what you want. It also has virtually non-existent customer service to assist you with questions specific to the product.

That’s when I came across, an affiliate site to (I am not getting paid to write this post. I genuinely want to share how I managed to save money on buying fixtures with others.) Anyway, I loved the usability for this site. It also helped me know when there were required valves or parts with certain items I added to my cart. (This was a lifesaver because there are so many various valves and miscellaneous parts for bathrooms that I wouldn’t have otherwise known were necessary!)


General Contractor Saga

What is it with general contractors? It’s been almost two months and I still haven’t been able to start work on the house.

I thought that if I devoted all of my time and energy on making sure I had my ducks in a row then I’d have the smoothest home renovation in the history of home renovations.


Without further ado, my general contractor saga that has spanned two months (which, when you can’t move in until after construction is complete, feels like decades):

General Contractor #1

I had this guy picked out even before we closed. He had built a friend’s house and I thought it looked wonderful. Based on her home, I could tell that he would pull off a transitional style well. After meeting with him several times, over a period of several weeks, to discuss in detail what I wanted, we finally agreed on a price for the work to be completed.

He sent me the contract to review and left out the labor cost for installing kitchen cabinets. This wouldn’t normally be so appalling except for the fact that he knew the place I was purchasing cabinets from did not install cabinets and he had already quoted me 40K for labor!

I had also ignored several red flags from this particular GC but this was the last straw. Most alarmingly, he refused to itemize the work that he was doing and instead gave me a quote for each section of the house. When I asked him to break down the costs, he told me it would be a waste of his time to type everything up. I was basically going on goodwill and trust which I now realize was my folly.

General Contractor #2

After the prior fiasco, I immediately went on Angie’s List and started researching companies with good reviews. I found one with excellent reviews and was able to set up an appointment immediately. The guy came to the house and we went over all of the work to be done.

I received a quote the next day with a 7-page itemized breakdown of parts and labor. Not only that, the quote was significantly less than the first GC. It was like a dream come true!

I told him that I would love to go with his company and asked him to send me the contract to sign.

The day after, he told me that his boss was confused about the scope of the work and that they could not do the job as quoted. They were not making enough money. I asked him to give me a new quote but our relationship quickly deteriorated after that.