A Different Perspective: The BOB Stroller for Children with Different Abilities

Asher is all smiles sitting next to his older brother, Elias

Asher is all smiles sitting next to his older brother, Elias

A speaker is a nice to have especially when our youngest is soothed by music.

A speaker is a nice to have especially when our youngest is soothed by music.

As a runner, when you have children you know the running game changes.  The days of solo running or "travel light" running are few and far between.  Being a mother runner or father runner means ushering in either a single or double running stroller and all runs with the stroller are then strength training runs, not just for the fact of the added weight, but children want interaction.  An infant might get fussy and older children are either chatty or want to stop and pick up every little speck of nature that you whiz by.  Therefore, preparing for those stroller runs takes thought.  Snacks, blankets, entertainment - which for some that means toys and others it might be a tablet or something similar.  It's all about the bonding with your child/children but also making sure those miles can happen.  

Yet, what type of planning is needed for a child who has special needs?  Does one need a specialized running stroller?  What does it all look like?  As a mom of 4 children I can tell you my stroller running mindset was flipped on its head when my 4th was born and was diagnosed with a rare chromosome deletion.  All that previous experience, although helpful was at times not helpful.  Shopping for a running stroller took more thought and consideration. Reclining options for reflux, feeding tubes, respiratory issues. Seat support for muscle tone. The list goes on.

Perfect amount of leg room and support which comes in handy for Elias to stretch when needed and Asher to have for his leg braces.

Perfect amount of leg room and support which comes in handy for Elias to stretch when needed and Asher to have for his leg braces.

When my first son was born, we had purchased a straight forward, utilitarian jogger.  The two other sons after him also used this stroller.  We packed the typical snacks, drinks, toys, etc.  When my fourth was born, he hated, yes hated the stroller.  The seat was to far recessed for him, didn't offer a lot of support and I couldn't see him at all.  We barely could get down the block without him screaming.  One day I ran 3 miles with him screaming half the time.  I was in tears, he was in tears.  I just kept thinking maybe I'm not moving fast enough, maybe he will eventually tolerate this, maybe he will go to sleep.  None of those things happened. After that I knew that the stroller had to go.  Besides the fact that he came with extra stuff - feeding machine, breathing machine, extra blankets, clothes for his reflux and so on, he did not like not being able to see someone he knew.  We were able to find a stroller for this past year that allowed him to always face me when running which was atypical because with most strollers, only infants in carriers are to able to parent face in a running stroller.  Him being 3 it was a challenge, yet him being small for his age helped him parent face for this last year will minimal stuggles. He has hit a growth spurt as of late which made him a little taller causing us to realize the parent facing time would need to transition to a conventional running stroller fairly soon.  

In comes the BOB Duallie stroller!  I will admit, at first the double stroller was intimidating.  Obviously it is so much more than a single in size and weight.  I'm not a tall woman, 5'3" at best so upon opening the stroller for the first time I was unsure I would even be able to push it. Yet, I was ready to take on the challenge of the push and of having him no longer face me when running.  The perk?  His older brother would be sitting right next to him which has proved more valuable than almost anything.  With my nerves high, I set out for my first double stroller run about a month ago and have since run 65 miles with my new BOB. 

Portable Nebulizer. Right where he needs it.

Portable Nebulizer. Right where he needs it.

I will let you know that the Duallie has been great, yes it really gives me an upper body workout, but it has been perfect in piling in all the items that are needed with a child with special needs.   There are plenty of pockets to put extra clothes and medical needs. The inside pockets next to each seat has been great to store his portable nebulizer.   Easily accessible and in the best location to use when needed.  The pockets, along with the oversized canopy make it perfect to set him up for a breathing treatment and to keep running.  Typically at a stoplight, I can set him up for a treatment when needed, fold down the large canopy that covers him almost entirely and keep chugging along down the street.  It has been a time saver when running with my youngest and he is needing a treatment. *Side note: He is very familiar with his breathing treatments and although he cannot not talk or hold his nebulizer accessories, he is very good about communicating his need for treatment and has learned how to turn his body to receive the treatment.

Wonderful oversized canopies which might be perks for some parents for napping. For parents of children with special needs it is for so much more: sensory stimulation decreased, wind protection so nebulizer machine can be used while running, etc

Wonderful oversized canopies which might be perks for some parents for napping. For parents of children with special needs it is for so much more: sensory stimulation decreased, wind protection so nebulizer machine can be used while running, etc

I should back track a little before continuing on with storage. Each seat has a sort of trunk "brace" for lack of a better word. For my child, with low muscle tone and in need of a little extra trunk or waist support it has been wonderful. He doesn't slouch or fall to the side having that little extra around his hip/waist area. 

Large basket deceptively simply but keeps things dry and debris out

Large basket deceptively simply but keeps things dry and debris out

Back to storage, the large, easily accessible basket in the undercarriage cannot be overlooked. During the past month, I have been running when it then starts to rain. Most of the time it has been a quick sprinkle but less than week ago it was a downpour. Besides picking up the pace because my kiddos were with me, all his medical needs were stored in the stroller and I didn't want them to get wet. Well despite me getting soaked, everything yes everything in that basket stayed dry. I was amazed and grateful.  

 

Another benefit, has been the multiple positions the seat can recline.  Yes, this is not a new perk and many might think how beneficial it is for their child without special needs, but I want to bring light to how huge an aspect this is to parents with children with needs.  As with many children with health and/or developmental needs, angle and reclining position make a big difference in whether the child screams the entire time or smiles or even falls asleep.  Our son has both serious respiratory and reflux issues along with developmental delays.  The first day we took the stroller out, he was fussy and had 2 big, messy reflux incidents.  I'll admit, I felt defeated.  Starting, stopping, cleaning him up (which was a struggle because he is a non mobile 3 year old so I had to hold him while trying to clean up "breakfast" with the other hand).  I wasn't sure the stroller was going to work for him.  Yet, later that day, I put him back in the stroller (yes he was fussy) and after a little over 5 minutes of raising and reclining the seat and we found the perfect angle.  Small, incremental adjustments that to some might drive them crazy, but this family is so grateful that the BOB strollers are able to recline easily and in such a variety of angles.  Since that first day, we has never (knock on wood) cried in the stroller again, has not had a reflux issue and has even taken a nap.  Winning!  

Toys clipped to the red rubber rings, food pouch on the side. We are set! 

Toys clipped to the red rubber rings, food pouch on the side. We are set! 

Just a sampling of the necessary gear we pack in our Duallie.  

Just a sampling of the necessary gear we pack in our Duallie.  

It is the small things that with use, we have come to truly appreciate about the BOB Duallie.  The red rings for toys to be clipped to since our youngest doesn't have the fine motor skills to hold items for a long period of time, not to mention his excellent skill at throwing things overboard.  I know all parents can relate to that skill.  The option of having a swivel wheel or a fixed wheel.  Swivel when we are walking, cooling down after a run is great, because it makes turning two kids and a stroller that equals nearly 100 lbs easier.  Yet, the fixed wheel while running offers so much more stability for him, a smoother ride helping him stay upright and having no reflux issues.  The high weight limit is also a perk.  It allowed me to transition the youngest from a parent facing, single stroller to a forward facing double stroller because he was able to sit next to his brother.  Without such an experience, I am not sure how the transition would have happened.  

I have to expand a little on the maximum weight and height topic just slightly.  I had posed the question: Does one need a specific stroller for children with special needs?  The answer is yes and no.  Depending on the need, but for our son who is 3, he is quite small for his age.  A specialized stroller would be extremely big for him, he would sit very recessed in the seat, little to no pockets for things that he would need and many other things.  The BOB Duallie has been wonderful in transitioning him to forward facing.  He's getting taller, he's gaining weight but he is still a little guy who is just not ready to be in a specialized running stroller.  And really, for his medical challenge, he might not be ready for such a stroller for many many years.  So we owe a thank you to our new BOB Duallie for giving Asher - giving us the next step in our stroller running adventures.   

The family, minus the husband.  How 90% of my running happens: stroller and bikes running all over town. 

The family, minus the husband.  How 90% of my running happens: stroller and bikes running all over town. 

Disclaimer: We received this stroller from BOB Gear in exchange for our honest and unbiased review. All opinions are genuine, truthful and our own based on use with a child having special needs. 

Lessons about Stroller Running

I realized the other day that by the time we have had our Bugaboo Runner (read the review here) a full year I most likely will have logged close to 1000 miles, maybe more. 😳(I need to replace the tires, I'm sure. Hey Bugaboo wanna send me some tires?!?!  😜). Not many to some, but to me that number is astounding!  That's a lot of Asher crying, laughing, and sleeping. Yet the biggest things that I've loved about becoming an almost 100% of the time stroller runner (yes even my long weekend miles have been with the stroller most of the time) is the things that I have learned about stroller runners in general:

 

1. Stroller running moms and dads are badass!!!  Come on, pushing anything at any pace takes strength, perseverance and sheer will. The desire to get those miles regardless of how much your body wants to turn around and not finish the run.  

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2. We got speed!  Yup, when you see a runner with a stroller do not immediately assume they are slow. And remember when a stroller runner passes you DON'T say "I need to pick up the pace" or "I can't let a stroller pass me". Give a hi-5, cheer them on. Consider it a good thing they pass you, that stroller runner is putting in some serious hard work out there!  Their hard work to catch up to you only means you too are putting in hard work!  There are some speedy, quick like lightening stroller runners out there too. If you don't believe me check out (Erinamg, momslrb, littlebeastling, runfargirl, runemz and nycrunningmama) on Instagram. 

3. We hear your complaining about being behind a running stroller when you are on a training run or during a race. We are pushing a stroller, not hard of hearing. Those two are not mutually exclusive FYI. Also, if you groan about being behind a stroller please make sure that you pass them and ARE faster than the stroller. You don't want to get your ankle clipped. 😂. Just kidding, we try not to bump into anyone. Ok ok, I've thought of it before though.  

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4. Stroller running providers a regular running partner. There is no texting or calling back and forth to coordinate the run. There really isn't any compromising on miles or pace. The running partner is sitting right there in the stroller. Heck they are probably running entertainment too. Asher has started to clap for me while on training runs. Well, at least until he falls asleep. He's like my own personal cheerleader.

5. On the flip side, Stroller running makes it hard to run solo. It's a love/hate relationship with the stroller. One the one hand, there is the fabulous opportunity to bond with your child(ren), to incorporate strength training or even ensure that afternoon nap. Yet, when you do get to run by yourself, it can be lonely. It's always a battle between making the run "easier" and having a little company.

6.  Last but not least, I've learned stroller runners love a good hi-5, a pat on back, a "good job". As I've said over and over, pushing a 25-35lb stroller PLUS the weight of your child or children is tough!  When you see a runner on the race course, training on the street give a little wave, smile, cheer. It truly does help us run a little taller, forget about the struggle for a little while and push on.

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"Won't Miss Eggs" Tofu Scramble

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Yummy yummy in our tummy!  This egg lovin' family has had to and continues to make changes in what's in our fridge. Asher, our youngest, has a serious allergy to all things egg. Next best thing for a morning scramble?  Tofu!   

 

WHAT YOU NEED:

Firm or Extra Firm Tofu

1/2 tablespoon of olive oil (you could certainly use coconut oil or grape seed oil) 

1/2 teaspoon garlic salt

1/2 teaspoon onion salt

1/2 teaspoon to 1 teaspoon pepper

dash of salt (we leave salt for each person to decide. Our 8 year old dislikes the taste of salt) 

1/2 - 1 teaspoon turmeric (optional) 

 

STEPS: 

1. Take tofu out of the package and press between a towel to release the water moisture. Best thing is to press the tofu overnight to make sure excess moisture is out before cooking but you could certainly do it the day off. It will simply add a few extra minutes of cooking.  

2.  Heat your own with olive oil 

3. With a fork, mash the tofu to resemble scrambled eggs  

4. Add mashed tofu with the seasonings into the pan. Stir to mix in seasonings. 

5. Cook for 10-15 minutes until the moisture is evaporated and the tofu starts to firm up.  

6. Serve and enjoy

 

Notes: 

* turmeric is optional. It is mostly to add color to the tofu to have resemble scrambled eggs but also adds flavor (obviously. Lol).  

* add veggies into your tofu scramble. We find a good option is very small bite size pieces of broccoli. Makes it even better.  

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Asher LOVES tofu as you can see by the smile on his face.  

Asher LOVES tofu as you can see by the smile on his face.  

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We've talked about it before and it's probably obvious - having 4 children and full time jobs makes training challenging for both of us. Yes, we try to include the children in our workouts and runs as much as possible, but we never want to force them to participate (they have to be willing) and there has to be training times where we can run to our best ability and then some. They say, if you want to be fast then run fast. So we have to have days where we can "run fast". (By no means am I saying Dave and I are fast, just working hard to be fast. 😉).  

So how can we both run in one day, after work and not be in he dark you ask?  We call it #runnerswitch. After work, dinner is either really simple, leftovers (yup we do that) or prepped beforehand (hello crockpot!). While the family eats dinner, one of us gets ready and runs 4-6 miles to a selected park. The family meets the runner at the park and "tag your it!", the other one runs the 4-6 miles home. It's the best way we can equally get training time and the kids get outdoors for an hour+!  Win win!!!  

With the weather getting warmer, daylight longer #runnerswitch is back!  And we love it. When this time of year comes along we get to spend almost every night of the week running and playing at the park.   It's a family affair for sure where everyone gets to  participate in physical activity, enjoy the outdoors and enjoy each other's company. It is extremely important to us to model for our children healthy living which also means balance. We do not force our children to run, play soccer, tennis, etc but emphasize keeping active even if it's climbing, jumping and running around a park. Fun and family is what it's all about. 

If you have children, how do you and your partner get training runs in?  How do you involve your children in running and/or staying active?    

Recent Accomplishments

We've been a bit busy recently with a couple of races on back to back weekends. First up was the Rock 'n' Roll San Jose Half Marathon Weekend. As with all Rock 'n' Roll events, this one was organized and set up perfectly. I signed up to run the Remix Challenge which only a few select Rock 'n' roll cities get to be a part of. The Challenge is running a 5k on Saturday and running the Half Marathon on Sunday. 

Found a friend and paced him to his goal 5k!

Found a friend and paced him to his goal 5k!

I met a friend at the 5k start and helped pace him to his goal of finishing in under 24 minutes. While i didn't expect to run quickly at this race, it felt good to move my legs fast as a shakeout run for Sunday. 

We attended the expo which was as always, a stress-free bib pickup experience. We didn't spend too much time on our feet since a goal of mine was to help Paula achieve a Personal Best in this half marathon distance. 

This course is fast and flat. A great course to get a PR, if that's what's your after. We felt good going out of the start and the middle miles ended up being our fastest. We are always amazed at what our bodies can do. We train hard, eat right and this helped us meet our goals this day. We've raced more than a handful of times and understand that there are days where you just don't have it. This wasn't one of those days. It feels good to cross that finish line knowing that you helped someone crush their own personal best!

OktoBREWfest 5k

This past weekend we raced again, this time more of a less stressful type of race. The A Change of Pace OktoBREWfest 5k was held on Saturday night and we ran this with our two oldest boys. The event is themed, well organized and best of all, had a start time of 6pm! The medals for this race have been bottle openers the past two years and the designs are very cool. Last year, i ran the 5k with our oldest, Gabriel and he placed third in his age group and this year he repeated his podium finish and placed second! I ran with Jacob and he ended up placing fourth in his age group! You can only imagine how proud we were when the race was over.

We waited around for the awards to become final and while it's a bit weird to receive a pint glass as a reward for an 11 year old, he did receive a sports water bottle also. The pint glass will make a nice addition to my collection.

Bottle opener finisher's medal and award winner pint glass

Bottle opener finisher's medal and award winner pint glass

We stress to the boys how important it is to live an active lifestyle. For them to say they want to race with us makes it all worthwhile. Hey, winning cool prizes and earning fun medals doesn't hurt either.

We love racing together

We love racing together

"My kids won't eat vegetables..."

      Who hasn't heard this or said this before - "My kids don't like vegetables!"  Usually that statement is followed by the many ways parents have tried to entice, even trick their child to eat vegetable.  There are the "Condiment Coaxers" such as ranch, peanut butter or the ever popular cheese.  (Heck, I love cheese and what doesn't taste better covered in melted cheese?)  Then there is the "Great Cover Up" where the veggies are secretly put into a child's favorite meal or snack.  Even better, is the "Sweets Swap"; that last resort battle move of "if you eat ______, then I'll give you a (cupcake, ice cream, candy, etc).  Oh, the things us parents will do to get our kids to eat something healthy AND actually like it.  

     Now, I am by no means an expert.  My children can be stubborn and there are vegetables that they turn their nose up at, but overall my children LOVE vegetables.  They love them without the cover ups or treats, they love them raw or cooked.  What's the secret?  There really isn't any secret.  I simply believed three things.  The first is presentation.  It is all about how you offer the vegetables to your children.  If you have any doubt, any hesitation that they will not like it, the children will know.  They have an innate ability to sense when we are not confident and boy do they seize that moment.  I always put vegetables on the table as if it was just like any other food on the table.  I always had them put it on their plate, told them they had to try it, but never forced them to eat a lot of it if they didn't like.  

     The second thing is offering the vegetable as is, maybe steamed or roasted, but I didn't offer any vegetable with a dip or cheese.  I personally may like to dip my vegetables in something, add a little butter, put a little salt, etc, but that is my taste palate after decades.  My children's palate is brand new to the vegetable.  I want them to taste it and learn to love it for it's taste not the condiment along side.  To this day, my children are not dippers.  They do not ask for cheese on their broccoli, ranch for their carrots or peanut butter for their celery.  For the most part, they think it's weird that people do that.  This certainly puts a smile on my face.

     The third sort of loops back to the first.  It is all about offering, I offer a vegetable multiple times.  Here's a case in point.  Currently, my four year old did not like asparagus.  The first time I offered it to him, he said no way, but house rules, he took a bite.  He still said no way.  four more times later, we BBQ'd the asparagus.  Again, he had to take a bite, but this time he said "yum" and wanted more.  Success!  I am not fooled into thinking that he loves asparagus or that it might become his favorite vegetable, but he now will eat it, likes it.  

     It is true that it takes at least 10 times of being introduced to a new food, for someone to form a real opinion about liking it or not.  So don't give up.  Offer vegetables, keep offering vegetables.  Encourage them to try it, but don't necessarily push it.  Even have them pick a vegetable when you are grocery shopping.  Sometimes by them choosing, they feel more willing to try tasting.  Trust me, there will be one, two, maybe three vegetables they will learn to like, possibly love.