Daddy Bonding Time – A Child Carrier Backpack Review

I became a dad just over 4 years ago. I was extremely excited when I learned I was going to be a dad. I was all in and wanted to be the best dad I could be. Despite my dedication, I had no idea what to expect or how to be a dad. The one thing I did know was I want my son to know that he is 100% loved. I am happy to say my wife and I have done a good job giving him love because our son is confident, happy, and secure in himself. That being said, one way we have been successful is by making the most of the time we have together. Being able to take our son out and just have fun has been an amazing bonding experience for our family. A favorite way to bond is by putting our son in a child carrier backpack and just going for a walk.

A Child Carrier Backpack Review

First off let me start by saying; having your child close to your body is a natural bonding phenomenon. One of the first things doctors and nurses tell parents to do after giving birth is to put the child on the mothers bare chest. The same is true for fathers, this is referred to as skin to skin and creates a bond for the child. I could go into greater detail but will spare you for the moment.

The continuation of the bond for me was to have my son first in a baby carrier wrap, because he did not like a regular baby carrier (like Baby Bjorn), and then graduate him to a child carrier backpack. The backpack I chose was the Thule Sapling Elite. This is essentially a large hiking backpack, but rather than carrying a tent and camp stove you carry your kid. It sounds silly but it is the greatest thing I have every purchased, and my son loves it.

The Breakdown

The pack sits on the wearers hips where the bulk of the weight should be supported. The secondary support is the shoulder straps, and a chest clip for additional comfort and safety. The support system will keep the wearer comfortable and the child secured to the wearer. On either side of the hips is two large zipper pockets (Elite model only, smaller pockets on the standard model) that can store a wallet, mobile phone, keys, cash, or anything that you would normally carry in your pockets. The right side pocket contains a small mirror (Elite model only) that can be used to check on the little one behind you.

The child compartment consists of a forward facing seat, that is adjustable to your childs’ height, and a shoulder harness that secures your child to the pack. The child can enter the pack from above by being lifted and placed in, or from the right side (older kids can enter without the help of a parent). The pack has adjustments all around the child so that they feel secure, and will not fall out. There are additional adjustments that will accommodate for the wearers’ height and body dimensions.

The backpack has padding and venting throughout keeping the wearer and rider (child) comfortable. Behind the head of the child is a padded area to comfort the head, behind that lies the adjustment to the shoulder straps for the child, and a stored foldable sunshade that when opened fits over the head of the little rider. There is a double kickstand that will allow the pack to stand securely on its own when loading or unloading a child. The legs fold into the pack when not in use and fold out when needed. The construction is solid.

Where Can I Use It

Initially I was overwhelmed with the size of the pack when it arrived and asked myself, “Where can I use it?”, and wondered if my purchase was a mistake. The answer to that question is a resounding “NO”. My purchase was not a mistake! This pack has been great, used countless times, and in so many places. Some of the places we have used it includes: Apple picking, pumpkin picking, multiple zoos, several beaches, many walks around the neighborhood (my neighbors thought I was nuts), many walks to the coffee shop, airport, amusement parks, and finally the shopping mall. Each time my son had a blast.

My son enjoyed it so much that he started asking for it before he could speak. For me, the Thule Sapling child carrier backpack was expensive, but it has been the best money I have spent as a dad thus far. The bonding and fun we have had using the pack has been priceless. My son is now 4 years old and he still asks to ride in the backpack.

The Benefits

The benefits of this pack are many, but the greatest benefit to me is the quality bonding time that I have had with my boy. Many parents have had the experience of putting their child in the car and driving around praying they will fall asleep. This method has worked for us, but one day I discovered that putting my son in the backpack and walking around worked even better.

Nap after our walk

Our son has fallen asleep many times in the carrier and I have learned to keep him in it rather than risk him waking up when trying to take him out. He is not a napper but riding in the pack put him at ease often resulting in an hour long nap for him and I. In addition to the bonding and nap time, I get a great workout every time we take a walk.

The weight of the Thule Sapling is about 8 lbs. and it can carry a maximum load of 48 lbs. The load includes the weight of the child as well as anything stowed in the various compartments. Keep the pack light, especially as the child grows.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line is a child carrier backpack is an amazing addition to the Baby+ (meaning baby and beyond) paraphernalia used to raise a child. It is not a stroller replacement, but can replace the need for a stroller on day or short trips. It can be heavy for some to manage (my wife can’t carry it) but if capable is a great way to be close with your child.

My experience is with the Thule Sapling Child Carrier Backpack, but there are other companies that also make similar carriers, such as Kelty or Osprey. After researching I chose the Thule Sapling Elite. I found it to have a well thought out design and sturdy construction. Outside of an integrated Bluetooth speaker system and maybe a heating and cooling unit (kidding of course) this pack is perfect. In all honesty, this pack has brought my family a lot of joy.

Although I know it is coming, I am not looking forward to the day when my son is too big to ride on my back.

Until then we will hike on.

Thanks for reading.  If you have a comment please leave it below.

Be safe,


Have You Heard About Bone Conduction Headphones?

Have you heard of bone conduction? I hadn’t either…until my son was diagnosed with a profound hearing loss in one of his ears. As a dad, I instantly went into problem solving mode. How do I help my son overcome this deficit in his hearing? We had multiple tests done, went to the best doctors, and finally one suggested the use of a bone conduction hearing aid. What is bone conduction, and how can it help my son hear?

What is Bone Conduction? – A lesson on hearing

Get ready for a little science lesson: The truth is when hearing is normal we hear through air conduction, meaning sound waves hit the eardrum and turn into vibrations which eventually turn into nerve impulses that are recognized by our brain. Bone conduction is hearing that bypasses the eardrum and directly vibrates the bones of the inner ear and then continue on and turn into nerve impulses which are recognized by our brains as sound.

An experiment you can do right now to understand bone conduction is to put your fingers in your ears and talk. The sound you are hearing from your own voice is done so through bone conduction. Another example of bone conduction is hearing underwater. There is no air present underwater so the vibrations that make sound are experienced through bone conduction. Bone conduction plus air conduction equals normal hearing.

I am trying it first!

Before I was willing to consider a bone conduction hearing aid for my son, I wanted to better understand how this hearing assisted device could possibly help him. After doing some research on the Web I found the same technology used for the hearing aids being used in headphones. Bone Conduction Headphones primarily use the same principles as the hearing aid, by sending vibrations to the bones of the inner ear to hear, rather than normal headphones that rely solely on air conduction, sending airwaves to the eardrum.

After learning about these bone conduction headphones I bought a pair and used them exclusively. They performed so well that I was in disbelief that they were purely bone conduction. Although I was right and they do have tiny speakers producing sound through air conduction, bone conduction is the primary source of sound and they are impressive. I was really impressed by their performance when I tested them with my ears plugged. By plugging my ears I took away my ability to hear through the air and relied solely on bone conduction, I was amazed. The sound was excellent and surprisingly crisp.

I was so impressed with how well the bone conduction headphones worked that I decided to test them against a pair of noise canceling headphones on a flight. With the use of earplugs blocking out all ambient noise the bone conduction headphones were by far the best I have used on a plane. The headphones worked great and it quickly helped me understand how this technology could help aid in hearing.

Used by Cyclists and Runners

Bone conduction headphones are popular with cyclists, runners, and anyone else who still wants to hear their immediate surroundings. The headphones do not fit inside the ear, blocking surrounding noise, rather they sit on the either side of the head and leave the ear canals open to the outside. This design allows these athletes to be more aware of their surroundings by keeping their ears unobstructed which enable them to hear on coming traffic and other possible hazards that may affect their workouts.

I can hear many of you saying, “I am not a cyclist or runner!”, well neither am I but I have walked in New York City at night with bone conduction headphones and felt much safer than if I had my ears covered with conventional head or ear phones. Additionally, I use them at night when my family is asleep so I do not disturb anyone and can still hear my son or wife if they need me. In the morning, I use them to hear the news and weather while my son is watching his cartoons and my wife is doing her thing, all the while still able to hear both of them is need be. I use them all the time and feel much more liberated that I can listen to my show or music and still have the ability to be present in my surroundings.

Ask Me How I Really Feel

If you have read up to this point, Thank you, you probably know I am a huge fan of Bone Conduction technology and yes I really think you should get a pair. I have tried three and can only recommend two. The first pair I tried were a friends and they were corded, let me just say “Stay away from the corded variety altogether!”. My reason for saying this is there is really no need, and they weren’t very good…enough said. The other two were the Aftershokz and Vidonn. The Aftershokz work well but are pricey. I have had two pairs the Titanium and the Airs, both worked well but broke on me. The Titanium broke on the headband, and the airs blew on of the speakers (I guess I played them too loud).

Being I busted these very expensive headphones I searched for a cheaper alternative and found the Vidonn Bone Conduction Headphones on Amazon. They were substantially cheaper, a little more bulky but their performance is comparable to Aftershokz. I was very impressed at how well they have performed and held up for me. As of this posting I have had them for 3 months and don’t think I would pay the extra to buy another pair of Aftershokz, which is why I have added a link and recommend them on my site.

Will They Help?

The verdict is still out on whether or not Bone Conduction will help my son, but at least I have a better understanding of the options for him. I also found an alternate way to listen to whatever I want to listen to. In my opinion, Bone Conduction is a safer way to listen to all of your media for the simple fact that it allows you to still be aware of your surroundings by not eliminating all of your hearing. The father in me is compelled to tell you, despite the increased safety of these headphones please watch your volume because even bone conduction headphones at high volumes can damage your hearing.

Thanks for reading. Please leave your comments below. Be well.

Cutting the Cord on Cable TV and Finding the Right Solution

If you are like most, you are or may have been a prisoner to your cable or satellite television company. Many of them require you to sign a contract and that requires you to pay that amount for a year or two, or suffer a penalty for early termination. Of course that amount is not all you pay, outside of the fees, there are cable box rental fees, DVR fees, etc. I for one was sick of it, which is why I cut the cord on cable TV!

Cable TV Cord Cutting 101

Cutting the cord on cable TV is not hard but it is scary. When you make the call to your cable company, the customer service representative, on the other end, will work hard to make you second guess your decision. They may transfer you to a supervisor, or the retention department and may even offer you a lower rate with the addition of HBO for 3 months free. Sounds like a great deal, Right? Wrong! Remember your reason for cutting the cord in the first place and stick to your guns.

Once this dance is completed and you’ve ended the unhealthy relationship you had with your cable company. Full disclosure: You will probably will not be able to break free from them completely, as they may also be providing your high speed internet service. However, if you have options (other internet providers) let them know and negotiate with your ex to get a better rate.

Now What?? – Cut the Cord Options

Now what? You have no TV and have to communicate with people. Well, you could read a book or talk to someone, you might actually learn something or connect with someone. However, if that is too much work for then you should start your cord cutting journey with an antenna. Antennas are not expensive and will provide you with some free local channels, some major networks, and possibly more. This is not a perfect solution because many areas lack a strong enough signal to local networks and it may take some trial and error to find a good location for the antenna. It is worth a try especially if you live in a major metropolitan area. You may be satisfied by the amount of television you get and decide you do not need any additional service. If this is the case congratulations, now invest that money for your retirement (a topic for another discussion).

Beyond an antenna, there are many options to replace a very costly cable bill. The range of options are vast, as is their cost and content. If you are comfortable watching shows and movies on your computer then you can find free shows on websites like YouTube among others and not have to pay anything beyond your internet service provider bill. If you want to use your television, you may need a Google streaming, Apple TV, PlayStation, or Roku device to view online content on your big screen. Using these devices gives you the option of watching free content or paying for a subscription service like Netflix, Hulu, YouTube TV, Sling, Disney +, Apple TV, and Philo. This is not a complete list of the services available but these are some of the most popular.

Too Much of a Good Thing

The good news is there are a lot of options, but more than you will ever watch. My suggestion is to pick your service based on household viewer taste and content offered. For example, in my home we subscribe to Netflix, YouTube TV, Amazon TV, and most recently Disney +. The reason for our selection is: YouTube TV has all the major networks, local television, as well as basic cable channels, and unlimited DVR storage all for about $50 a month. Netflix has original content, recently released movies, and plenty of content for kids. Amazon TV comes free with my Prime Membership. Disney + is a new service and we decided to give it a trial.

Listing all of these services is making me realize that we may have too much and could save some money by dropping a few. The idea is to pick a service or a few that make sense to you and your situation. If your family loves Disney, then Disney +, and YouTube TV might be right for you (YouTube TV offers the Disney Channels whereas Sling does not). Match your interests and that of your family to the channel offerings and program variety of each service and pick one. If you pick too many, as apparently I have, then you may be paying more than you had with cable.

Mix it Up

Picking the right mix of streaming services, free or paid, will provide you with more than enough content than you had with cable. Be aware of the danger of having too many services and take advantage of the flexibility that these services offer. I read an article that reminded me that streaming services do not require the lengthy contracts we have become conditioned to expect from our content providers. Streaming services are monthly, if you have seen everything on Disney+ or Netflix, then try Apple TV or Hulu for a month or more. If Disney+ adds another season of the Mandalorian and you can’t wait to see baby Yoda, then sign up for another month. Use the flexibility to your advantage.

The Cord Cutting Solution

There are many benefits to cord cutting. The most obvious to me is saving Save-Moneymoney, which is why you must not get caught up paying for all of the streaming services. There is a ton of content and a lot of options, so pick one and enjoy it. Binge watch a series in 30 days or less, then cancel the streaming service and pick up another one the following month. This is an easy way to get great content, pay for what you want, and save money. I haven’t had cable since 2012 and don’t miss it at all.

Don’t forget…you could always read a book.

Thanks for reading. Let me know what you think and if you have any other ideas that you would like me to explore.

All the best,


Cheap Cell Phone Service for Seniors and Other Wise Individuals

Cheap Cell Phone Service for Seniors and Other Wise Individuals

The Problem with Cell Phone Service

Smart Guy choosing prepaid phone service
Smart people know saving money and great service can be achieved by using prepaid phone service.

Cell phones have replaced the landlines of yesteryear. Although there are still “Landlines” out there, they are often no longer the primary phone number for the majority of the population. I have a landline with a Voice Over the Internet Protocol or VOIP service that I keep at home as a back up. It is rarely used but very inexpensive so I keep it. This is a topic for another discussion, but the task at hand are cell phone services.

For years, I was paying the big cellphone companies hundreds of dollars a month for their service and a number of unexplained fees. In my experience, the worst offender has “the largest and most reliable network” but shall remain nameless, Can you hear me now?. Becoming increasingly tired of these fees I searched for better options. After jumping from carrier to carrier only to realize they all have additional fees, some more than others, I stumbled upon a mysterious and slightly uncomfortable option…prepaid.

Prepaid, It’s Not Just for Bad Guys Anymore

If you are like me you watch a lot of cop shows or action movies and the bad guys always have prepaid (burner) phones. Yes, Burner phones are of the prepaid persuasion, but I am not suggesting that you become a bad guy or throw away a perfectly good phone. I wouldn’t do it, nor should you. I either want to keep my existing phone or buy one at a reasonable price and add a service plan that matches my needs. Right now some of you are saying to yourselves this guy is nuts, he’s living in a fantasy world, or this will never happen. The truth is it’s happening now, this magical type of service really exists and has saved me thousands over the course of a decade. The problem is it is not yet mainstream.

In Prepaid We Trust?

The problem with prepaid phone service is it is not trusted by the masses and therefore not mainstream, or the norm. I live for not being mainstream, because most mainstreamers are broke or struggling, and living on credit. I don’t want this for me or you, which is why I try to find a better way to have the same conveniences of mainstream for a better price and perhaps better service.

Prepaid is trying to come mainstream by advertising on television, and offering their product in large retailers such as Walmart and Target in the US. But in my experience many people are afraid to change because they just don’t trust that their service will work the same or be as reliable as what they are used to. I try to help, but cannot force anyone to save money or do anything else that they do not want to do. But if you are still reading this then soak up the savings and continue on.

In general, there are two types of companies offering prepaid 1) the first is the large widely known phone companies (AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile, US Cellular, etc).  2) the second are the lesser known prepaid companies (and there are many) that offer service on the same towers as the big guys. Let me reiterate my last point, the prepaid companies offer service on the same towers as the big guys.

Same towers = Same service

In essence, this is the same service as the major carriers. The proof is when I dial for assistance I get an operator from “the largest most reliable network in the US”. By the way, that is the same company that was charging me all those hidden fees, but now I know exactly what I am going to pay each month regardless of my usage. Long story short, my service is great and so is my bill.

The Fine Print

Some things you must know, not all services are equal. What is meant by that is know the coverage maps of the major carriers and find out which carriers towers your prepaid service is using. For example, In my area Sprint does not have the best of coverage, so I would not use Boost Mobile or any other company that uses Sprints coverage for my service. You may have carriers in your area that do not cover well. Do your homework and find the best coverage for your area, and then find a prepaid company that uses those same towers. Some companies like StraightTalk use multiple carriers for their service, so if you have an AT&T phone you would use the AT&T SIM provided and place that in your phone’s SIM slot, if you had T-Mobile, or Verizon you do the same for those phones.

It is stated on most prepaid sites that the customers who are in contract directly with the phone service provider will take priority over a prepaid customer. I have read this on several sites but have never experienced a problem or a slow down of service for the decade I have been using prepaid. That being said, some prepaid companies offer 3G versus 4G service, which is obviously slower but for most not noticeable. The example I am thinking of is SIMPLE Mobile, which was offering 4 lines of unlimited talk, text, and data for $100 a month. That is $25 a line for four people, which is a great deal that I did not partake in, but was tempted.

Last of the fine print, you have to buy your own phone. This can be accomplished by purchasing phones online, in retail stores, or using an old phone from a previous service. Please make sure the phone uses the same SIM type as the previous service. There are two different protocols for phones that I am aware of GSM or CDMA. I made the mistake of trying to put a GSM SIM in a CDMA phone, long story short it won’t work.

Get What You Need, Pay What You Want

Stop paying the hidden fees, and hoping your didn’t go over on your minutes, texts, or data. Find a prepaid plan with the coverage and service that you need at a fixed price that makes sense for you. Imagine getting what you need at a price you can afford. Having a fixed price month after month helps anyone to manage their money better, live on a budget, and reduces stress…not to mention therapy bills.

I think prepaid plans are the perfect cheap cell phone plans for seniors, so much so that I put each of my parents on one. Not only is it good for seniors but my wife and I both have our own prepaid plans that we have had for many years. I was an earlier adopter (over 10 years) but my wife was initially resistant.  She grew tired of overage fees for texting and now loves her unlimited plan. Remember, you don’t have to be a bad guy to buy prepaid cell phone plan, but you can be a wise ass. Haha!

I hope you enjoyed reading this article, and came away learning something. Your feedback is always welcome. Be well.