Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Hobo Mama Giveaway: On-the-Go Inflatable Potty Seat — 5 winners! (2.11) CLOSED

This giveaway is now closed. View the winners here!

On-the-GO Inflatable Potty Seat going into potty
Win Mikko's favorite new potty experience. Before you ask, yes, he was just about to have a haircut.

I am happy to be giving away FIVE On-the-Go Inflatable Potty Seats from On-the-Go Inflatables.

This is a unique pottying tool that will be useful for the potty-learning toddlers out there as well as those parents doing elimination communication with their babies.

What do you do when you have a potty-training toddler or an EC baby and you want to leave the house?

Michael McGuire, the founder of On-the-Go Inflatables"For Today's Traveling Toddlers" — found out first-hand when his family went on vacation to a theme park. His wife took their young daughter into a bathroom, and the little girl came out in tears, afraid of the gaping hole of the unfamiliar adult toilet. Adult toilets are just too big for little bums.

Michael asked why his wife hadn't brought a travel potty or seat insert. Lug that heavy, dirty, plastic thing around all day? asked Mike's wife. No thanks!

Mike likes a challenge. When he got home, he took his daughter's toilet seat insert and an old rubber raft, made a pattern, melted the edges of the rubber together, and crafted the first inflatable potty seat insert!

The company started producing the seats for sale last year. Michael was kind enough to send me a sample to try, and here's my honest take on the inflatable seat, as used by my 2-and-a-half-year-old, Mikko.

Mikko usually uses a little potty or a toilet seat insert at home. When we're out, though, we have more of a quandary. He is terrified of public toilets; some of it's the flush, and some of it is that gaping opening that scared Michael McGuire's daughter. So I've taken to lugging around a small potty in the car, along with a foldable seat insert.

But the problems with both are that they're bulky, hard plastic. You can't just toss them in a purse and be on your way. In fact, we've had instances in taking the bus where we've been inadvertently stranded somewhere without a Mikko-acceptable pottying option.

On-the-Go Inflatable Potty Seat
Here's the (open but deflated) On-the-Go Potty Seat next to a typical seat reducer and small potty: You can see it's roomier than they are when fully opened.

The On-the-Go Inflatable Potty Seat is the perfect solution to transportable pottying. Opened up and inflated, it's actually bigger and cushier than a standard toilet seat insert. But deflated, using the quick-release deflating valve on the back, and rolled up, it's only about as long as your hand.

On-the-Go Inflatable Potty Seat
Here's the blue On-the-Go Potty Seat deflated and rolled, to show you how much more compact it is for transporting than other potty options.
I just measured the deflated roll, and I have dimensions of approximately 7 inches x 5 inches x 5 inches. Everything but the handles is soft rubber, and the handles are a sturdier rubber. The deflated potty seat can easily slip into a diaper bag, purse, or suitcase.

The On-the-Go Inflatable Potty Seat solves some of the other downsides to the traditional travel potty options, as well, at least as experienced by Mikko and us! We have one travel potty that requires disposable liners to use it, which can be expensive and is non-eco-friendly. Fold-up toilet inserts often have seams to pinch little legs, and they sometimes are designed so that they slide around on the top of the adult seat instead of nesting inside. If you don't use a flush toilet — if, for instance, you just bring a regular little potty — then you're stuck with the question of what to do with the waste if you're not near a flush toilet. We've made a few surreptitious trips to a handy drain when we've been pottying Mikko in the car. Having a seat insert that works with any standard public or private toilet means it's as convenient to potty your child as it is to go yourself!

But what does all this matter...unless the child likes it? Well, ever since we got it, it's been Mikko's favorite toileting option.

On-the-GO Inflatable Potty Seat backrest
The comfy inflated back rest. You can see the top inflater valve and the lower quick-deflate release valve.
  • Why is it Mikko's favorite? I think because it's so nice and cushy. Have you ever slept on an air mattress or bounced on a birth ball? There's something inherently comfy about being suspended on a cushion of air.
  • It even has a comfortable back rest, not a feature I've seen on most toilet inserts (or any, come to think of it!).
  • Mikko also likes the sturdy handles at the sides. He actually uses them to hang on to as he goes. I don't think he's in any danger of falling off the pot, but he probably likes the feeling of security it gives, considering he's a little guy and therefore high off the ground.
  • The inflatable bottom of it (ha ha! I said "bottom" in a potty post) wedges snugly into the toilet opening and doesn't scoot around like plastic versions. I haven't tried it in a wide variety of toilets, but I'm guessing it would adapt well to various opening shapes and sizes, since the air could be squished one direction or another, and you could always deflate it a little if you needed more wiggle room.

On-the-GO Inflatable Potty Seat handles Hold on tight. It's going to get rough.
Now, we first tested it cozily at home, because, as I mentioned, Mikko has a strong fear of public restrooms. I thought we could start small and test it at someone else's home next, which is an unfamiliar bathroom but not quite as scary as a public toilet.

But we were once again out in such a way — on a walk through the rain — that necessitated streamlined pottying. I was meeting friends at a restaurant, and there was no way I was lugging his plastic potty along with me. The On-the-Go Inflatable Seat slipped into the stroller bag, easy as pie, and we were off.

I lucked out that the restaurant had one of those single-stall deals, more like home than business and with no automatic flushes, so we could lock the door and take our time. I fully expected a screaming fit from Mikko, and he didn't disappoint me as I used the toilet myself. I told him he didn't have to go, that we would just wash our hands. He consented to that and calmed down a little as we soaped up at the sink.

On-the-GO Inflatable Potty Seat stabilization ring The inflated stabilization ring keeps the seat snug as a bug.
Then I pulled the bright blue On-the-Go Inflatable Potty Seat out of the bag. Mikko watched, intrigued, as it slowly inflated.

I fit it snugly into the big toilet and then calmly reached over and got him ready. He let me pick him up and settle him onto Big Blue (there — I've given it a nickname) without a murmur, and within seconds there was a merry tinkling.

Success!

I can't tell you how high I was off this, because if only you knew the tears and drama we always go through in public restrooms! For Mikko to actually pee in a foreign toilet was an astounding feat, and I have to give credit to the novelty and comfort of the On-the-Go Inflatable Potty Seat (aka Big Blue).

Now, what would I change about the seat?
  1. One thing that's unfortunate for us about this seat reducer, as with ALL seat reducers and ALL infant potties is that the opening is actually a little too small for Mikko. I don't know if we have a particularly large-bottomed child or what, but I always have to scootch Mikko way back till his butt's past the opening, and then lean him forward. Especially considering he has boy parts and there's no pee shield, this is the only way to avoid unintended splashiness. Like I said, this is a problem we've had with every single potty and seat reducer we own, so quite probably Mikko's large size is skewing our results, but I did want to point it out.
  2. On-the-GO Inflatable Potty Seat inflating Sam having absolutely no problem blowing up the potty seat, apparently from the mouth of a cave.
  3. The other issue I've had is that I found the seat a little hard to inflate. You're supposed to gently squeeze the base, to open up the valve slightly, while blowing in. My husband has no problem getting just the right amount of pressure going, but I found it trickier.

I actually contacted Michael of On-the-Go Inflatables about both issues, and he was very understanding and friendly and had these responses:
  1. I am, indeed, the only person who has yet complained about the size of the opening! So I think we have to chalk this one up to Mikko's tremendous size. That said, Mike did suggest that they will consider adding a pee shield sort of flap to future models of boy-specific seats, so give feedback to On-the-Go Inflatables if that's something you'd desire.
  2. There have been a very few complaints of valve tightness and difficulties inflating. The newer batch being manufactured now has bigger valves to help with this problem. If you have trouble inflating your potty seat: First of all, follow directions to gently squeeze at the base of the valve. Secondly, the valve should loosen up over time and make things easier. Thirdly, another change in production is that the company might potentially include an air canister to help you pump up the seat. Fourthly, Michael said to please feel free to call or email him personally to get a replacement if the valve is a real problem for you. He was telling me that On-the-Go Inflatables is a small, family-owned company, that he loves interacting with customers, and that he doesn't go to sleep at night until all his phone calls are returned. He encouraged me to share this full contact information with you: company number: 1.877.OTG.POTY (684.7689); his direct cell phone number: 630.688.5818; his email: mike@onthegoinflatables.com
On-the-GO Inflatables logoSince this is a small company that's just starting up, Michael would welcome your feedback and reviews of the product. Future innovations On-the-Go Inflatables is considering, some of which I mentioned before, are a pee shield, an air canister to help with inflating, a carrying pouch, and an animated life for the logo character — the cute little zooming potty seat — that will include a DVD and other learning helps for guiding kids through potty training.

Learn more about the company and the product through an online radio show March 2 from 6:30-6:45 p.m. EST on BlogTalkRadio.

The company is based in Illinois. The product is made in China and is BPA- and phthalate-free and non-toxic. You can hand wash it with soap and water and towel or air dry.

You can read my background on this giveaway and our potty-learning history at Hobo Mama. You can also leave comments on that post about any features you'd like to see added to the seat.


BUY IT!


You can buy the On-the-Go Inflatable Potty Seat, either from the company's website for the low introductory price of $7.99 plus shipping/handling or through Amazon for $9.99 plus s/h. On-the-Go Inflatables will be donating $2 to Haiti earthquake relief per potty sold through Feb. 15.


WIN IT!


For your own chance to win an On-the-Go Inflatable Potty, enter in the comments below! There are FIVE potty seats being offered, so that's (do the math!) FIVE chances to win!

On-the-GO Inflatable Potty Seat toddler
Which to choose, which to choose?
MAIN ENTRY: I was all prepared to demand that you do complicated gymnastics to qualify to win, but Mike's requirement is simple: Tell him what color you prefer: 

  • Blue
  • Blue with a character
  • Pink
  • Pink with a character

I was wondering what the character was exactly, so that's what I ordered for my free sample. Turns out it's great big googly eyes and a wide smile (as in picture). Far from frightening Mikko (Sam's worry), it has delighted him. So, go to On-the-Go Inflatables and tell me which color you would choose from the four options. This entry is required to win.

Leave an email address in your comment if it's not clearly visible on your profile or linked web page so that I can contact you if you win.

BONUS ENTRIES, to increase your chance of winning:
    On-the-GO Inflatable Potty Seat inflated The character I'm referring to is the one on the seat.
  • Follow www.HoboMamaReviews.com publicly through Google Friend Connect, or subscribe to the Hobo Mama Reviews RSS feed in a reader or by email.
  • Follow www.HoboMama.com through Google Friend Connect, or subscribe to the Hobo Mama RSS feed in a reader or by email.
  • Follow @OTGInflatables on Twitter and leave your Twitter name in the comment.
  • Follow @Hobo_Mama on Twitter and leave your Twitter name in the comment.
  • Tweet this giveaway. This may be done once daily for still more entries. Leave the direct URL, which can be found by clicking the time stamp under your Tweet. You can create your own text or copy/paste this: Win one of FIVE On-the-Go Inflatable Potty Seats from @OTGInflatables & @Hobo_Mama for portable #pottytraining! http://bit.ly/cbyCNZ {2.11}
  • Become a fan of On-the-Go Inflatables on Facebook.
  • Become a fan of Hobo Mama on Facebook.
  • Follow Hobo Mama on Networked Blogs on Facebook.
  • toddler cleaning the toilet I fully support any product that inspires someone in this house to clean a toilet afterward.
  • Do something lovely for this post or a post on Hobo Mama (StumbleUpon, Twitter, Facebook, Digg, Technorati, etc.) and let me know what it was and which post in your comment. There is a Share button below each post. You can gain up to 3 entries this way.
  • Put my Carnival of Natural Parenting button on your website for 2 extra entries. The HTML code is in the sidebar. Leave your site URL in the comment.
  • Include this giveaway in a post on your own blog for 3 extra entries. Leave the direct link in your comment.

RULES:
  • Contest open to US and Canada. (International readers farther afield can still order a seat from the company!)
  • Leave each entry as a separate comment so I can count them all.
  • For actions like following and subscribing, if you already follow or subscribe, just let me know in your comment.
  • For tasks that garner you multiple entries, say something like "I blogged [link here] #1," "I blogged [link here] #2," etc.
  • You don't have to do any of the bonus entries, but you do have to complete the first mandatory one.
  • I will pick the winners through random.org after the contest closes and send an email to notify them. Leave an email address in your comment if it's not clearly visible on your profile or linked web page so that I can contact you if you win. If I can't reach any particular winner or don't hear back within a couple days, I'll draw a new name.
  • Any questions, let me know: mail {at} HoboMama.com

Contest closes Feb. 11 at 11:59 p.m. PST.


Disclosure: I received a free potty seat for my review but no other
compensation. I try to seek out only products that I think
you would find relevant and useful to your life as a natural parent.
If I don't like a product, I won't be recommending it to you.
That's how I roll. See my full disclosure policy here.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Giveaway: ERGObaby Carrier @ Familylicious (1.23)

Familylicious Reviews is giving away an ERGObaby carrier!

This is my absolute favoritest carrier! In fact, I want to win this so badly so I can pass on the babywearing love to a friend who's having a baby soon. My 2.5-year-old is 36 pounds and is still comfortable to wear on my back in the ERGO, and it was great even when he was a (large) newborn! It distributes the weight evenly, so it keeps your back and hips happy. You can even nurse comfortably in the ERGO.

See my full review and suggestions for wearing it here.

From the Familylicious review:

I love my children... and I love making them happy. What makes them happy and me happy? Babywearing. I started my babywearing with my daughter and it has now turned into a full blown obsession. I want to try every kind of carrier out there. And what makes me so very excited is a baby carrier that can fit my 7 month old son perfectly but can also fit my almost 3 year old daughter perfectly. In comes the ERGO baby Carrier . The ERGO baby Carrier has an ergonomic design that is not stressful on their spine since the weight is distributed to the spine, hips, and thighs. It also has great padding that makes carrying my children be it my 7 month old or my almost 3 year old easy as can be. I have no back strain or discomfort.

Enter fast at Familylicious by Jan. 23.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Giveaway: Sodastream Fountain Jet @ The Mommy-Files (1.19)

Can you believe I didn't win...again?

It's OK, though, because The Mommy-Files is also giving away a Sodastream Fountain Jet home soda maker!

We don’t buy soda too often in our home because it can add up in cost quickly and takes up a lot of valuable storage space – since we live in an 800 square foot house, we need all the storage space we can get. However, the Fountain Jet takes up very little space and makes awesome-tasting soda!

For more details on the SodaStream Fountain Jet and the Soda Lover's Start-Up Kit, please see my many, many other tries to win this fascinating product that keeps slipping...out...of...my...grasp... Le sigh.

But this time. This time!

Enter fast at The Mommy-Files by Jan. 19.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Discount: Activeion Ionator HOM cleaner and sanitizer @ Thanks, Mail Carrier (1.31)

If you also are traumatized by not winning the Activeion Pro cleaner and sanitizer from Thanks, Mail Carrier, I have good news.

From now till January 31, readers of Thanks, Mail Carrier can pop on over to her site to receive an exclusive coupon code for $20 off the Ionator HOM.

No need for sour grapes, after all!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Giveaway: Sodastream Fountain Jet @ Ruminations of a Twenty-Something Momma (1.16)

Just keep swimming … swimming, swimming …

Yes, Ruminations of a Twenty-Something Momma is giving away a Sodastream Fountain Jet home soda maker!

When these little inconveniences start to add up, you may begin to wonder, as I did, if there isn't an easier, more cost-effective way to bring the fizzy goodness of soda into your home. Happily, the answer is a resounding, "Yes"!

For more details on the SodaStream Fountain Jet and the Soda Lover's Start-Up Kit, please see my many, many other tries to win this delicious product that I want with the very core of my being.

Enter fast at Ruminations of a Twenty-Something Momma by Jan. 16. This is going to be my time, I can feel it!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Giveaway: Activeion Pro cleaner and sanitizer @ Thanks, Mail Carrier (1.4)

Thanks, Mail Carrier is giving away an Activeion Pro cleaner and sanitizer!

This is the most intriguing cleaning device I've seen! It uses tap water and ionizing technology to clean without chemicals.

Ready for the science lesson? Check it out at Activeion Cleaning Solutions. The water is granted a slight electrical charge and is then oxygenated. All right, I'll admit it — that part I don't fully understand, but I do like this part:

The activated water now attracts dirt like a magnet and lifts it from the surface, enabling it to be easily wiped away.

Since it's just water, it's safe to use around infants and animals, and it can be used on any surface that's safe for regular old H20: counters, stuffed animals, carpets, granite, clothing, plastic toys, toothbrushes, you name it! I bet it would be fun to find all one gazillion uses.

It's an expensive device at $299, but since it's all-purpose, you could save on not buying a bunch of other chemical cleaners. And, of course, if you win it — free is free!

So, enter fast at Thanks, Mail Carrier by Jan. 4.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Giveaway: Mama Cloth Event cloth menstrual pads giveaways @ The Cloth Diaper Report (1.2-1.10)

The Cloth Diaper Report is giving away a variety of cloth menstrual pads from various companies in a Mama Cloth Event!

I have been so wanting to try cloth menstrual pads. I used cloth diapers for my son and loved how soft and hygienic they were. We had to use disposables when traveling, and I came across the last of the box in the closet the other day and was overwhelmed by how smelly they are (clean, unused!). Bleh. I rock a reusable Diva Cup, so why am I still using disposable liners and pads?

Why indeed?

Well, here's my chance (and your chance!) to win an assortment of mama pads. Since The Cloth Diaper Report is giving away so many in a row, I'll list them all separately here:




She has put up detailed reviews of each pad so you can get a sense of the construction and the pros and cons and whether it will work for you. If you're wanting to give cloth mama pads a try — or even if it had never crossed your mind but now sounds intriguing! — head on over and win!

Enter fast at The Cloth Diaper Report by Jan. 2 through Jan. 10.

P.S. Can you believe it's January 2010??