Sunday, February 1, 2009

shower # 2 and a stroller crisis of conscience

yesterday we had a second baby shower and received many lovely gifts including this mobile. architecture students are known to use school equipment for everything and anything, and this is no exception. the card-stock was laser-etched (looks very similar to letterpress) with various 'archi-speak' words including 'reification,' 'foucauldian,' and my favorite, 'affect' and 'effect' paired together. i am assuming this child will spring from my womb discoursing about the nature of the sublime if he takes after matthew.

so i bought a diaper changing clutch from nonchalant mom, which means i can do without overpriced and very unattractive diaper bags. i do, however, still need a functional bag that can be easily wiped down or cleaned. i am thinking this nylon market tote will do the trick.

maybe it's because i have less than 4 weeks left, i'm starting to feel nervous about our slow preparations. i've been researching strollers for months, test driving them at the shop and obsessively checking craigslist for gently used, more affordable options. i'm hoping to carry him as much as possible, but with my bad shoulders and neck, i know that going without a stroller is not an option.

so, matthew and i finally settled on the new mountain buggy swift. in a world where $600 strollers still don't have everything i want and need, the swift is about the best i can get. although heavy (21 lbs), it handles marvelously, has a sturdy hammock seat, can be used from birth, the canopy is large, the 10 inch air-filled tires cut through the slush, and the decently sized storage basket is easy to reach. you'd think that all strollers would be designed to be functional, but the more time i spent with them, the more i realized how many compromises we're expected to make even as we spend huge amounts of money.

sure, we could go the maclaren route ($80-300), and no doubt we'll end up with a volo for traveling, but i wanted something that would be comfortable for long excursions but still practical for second-floor living in cambridge. i love the bugaboo bee, but today in the shop i asked a parent to place her 9-month old in it, which confirmed my suspicions about its main design flaw. she's about the size of an average 12-month baby, and from the looks of it, would only fit in the beee for about 4-6 more months because the canopy is low and the seat is very narrow. for $530, plus $100+ in accessories, i said no thank you.

anyway, the problem with mountain buggy is that they just filed for bankruptcy. this new zealand company, which manufactures all of its strollers in NZ, is suffering from an expansion last year. bad timing, you could call it. anyway, if it doesn't find a buyer soon, it'll have to cease production. this means that its global 3-year warranty will be null and void. i've heard how well-made the strollers are, but it seems like a bad move to spend $550 if the warranty is useless. matthew thinks that if the strollers go on sale for $250, we should just get one.

well, so i just spent almost 2 hours at this shop hemming and hawing over the strollers. i've turned into a goldilocks of the most dissatisfied and guilt-ridden sort.

quinny buzz 4? i like the two seat fabrics (memory foam and canvas), but it's incredibly heavy and i would have to purchase a separate bassinet.
uppa baby vista? the price is good for the included bassinet, and the storage basket is one of the biggest i've seen. at over 24 lbs, however, i don't think i could schlep it around town and into the apartment, though.
bugaboo frog? i prefer this to the cameleon, probably because it's a pound or two lighter, although the basket is quite small and difficult to access. however, i'm pretty disappointed in how it handles compared with the swift--not so sharp on turns and tight spaces. plus, the fold is one of the dumbest i've ever seen. taking the seat/bassinet off is the easiest part, actually. once that's off, the chassis isn't exactly locked into place (it stands like a drunken sailor). and yet, you still have to press down on a lever during stage one of the fold. then you have to lift it up and make sure the other metal bar snaps into place. when you lift the handle to unfold it, you have to kick the bar out so that it opens out again. i'm sure this gets easier with time, but that's still 1 step too many for me. the thought of taking the seat off and doing a little song-and-dance in the slush and freezing cold is not exactly appealing.

and what about the micralite toro? this is the dark horse contender (love the green). i would have to spend more for the newborn bassinet, but it's relatively light (19 lbs), easy to fold (although not very compact), and has a seat with positions like the bugaboo's (i.e. flat to extremely upright). the storage basket is apparently difficult to access, you have to remove the canopy along with the bumper bar in order to take the latter off, and the back wheels are so close together that people apparently kick them. oh, and you need to use an allen wrench to adjust the handles. hmmm. for $700, you'd think this wouldn't be an issue. anyway, i need to find a shop that carries them so i can try it out for myself.

when i was a baby, my parents used a cheap umbrella stroller, nothing so nice as the maclaren. i suspect most of us used one of these during the 70s and 80s. i also rode around in a car most of the time in the suburbs. i certainly didn't sleep in a $1000+ crib system, nor did i wear $22 cotton caps.

as much as i'd like for little allen to have well-designed, beautiful things, now is the time to set some limits. if only i could make up my mind about what they are for strollers. maybe i'll just wait 3 months until he's able to ride in the uppababy g-luxe, which may or may not be a more comfortable stroller than the lightweight maclarens. i'm probably over-thinking it, but i hate spending money on something that i'm not 95% satisfied with. it isn't even about how much i spend, just that i hate accumulating stuff that i don't love. with babies comes lots of stuff. my job is to keep it to a minimum. sometimes that means overthinking to the point that i need a nap--or ice cream. i think i'll go with the latter.


Stephanie said...

From what I have heard, the micralite is the business, but my cousin also swears by this ergonomic backpack style thing that she has used ever since her little one could hold it's head up combined with a mclaren.

That mobile sounds amazing.

(Also - please have a tape recording device ready should he indeed spring from from the womb discoursing about the nature of the sublime!)

erica said...

i think we're going to try out the micralite soon. i spend too much time going to stroller shops and lifting the heavy ones. at least it confirms my suspicion that i need one under 20 lbs.

the ergo or something similar will be the way to go. my parents gave me the carrier they used with my brother and me, i'll have to post photos soon. we might try to use that, too.

yen said...

when we had our 1st--we purchased a maclaren quest; lightweight, good for travel.

when we had our 2nd--we purchased the phil & ted's double (which can be converted into a single, newborn/toddler, 2 tods) and we've been so pleased. it's durable, folds easily, we've traveled with it (with a bungee cord to hold 2nd seat in place when u gate check). our only piece of advice regarding air tires--when traveling, carry an extra inner tube & travel pump...we've had 1 instance of a blown tire-airport sitch which sucked big time. our daughter is 5 & son is almost 3 & they both still fit in the stroller, though we can't cram anything in the back with our son anymore; bc of this, we've invested in the p&t's saddle bags for misc gear.

whichever stroller u end up purchasing...we can't recommend enough for u to get a 'universal' stroller for those first months. they're cheap--$50 new but u can find on craigslist sometimes for $10-20. it's perfect for transporting sleeping baby from pt a-b without waking; u just snap carseat right into stroller & go. HIGHLY recommend.

oh & if u do end up spending a bunch on a great stroller--invest in a lock. we use a snowboard lock.

Anonymous said...

My sister had a fancy stroller for 3 babies.... but the one she came back to every time and LOVED and swears by was a "snap-n-go". Basically a stroller frame, light weight that the baby-bucket snaps into. Ten you can transfer from car to stroller without waking the baby. She traveled a lot with her kiddos, and couldn't have done it without the snap-n-go.
They're cheap & lightweight!