I woke up without my alarm this morning, languidly observing the clear weather and the bright sunshine...and then, upon remembering, bolted out of bed (scaring the dog) and proceeded to shower, wash all the dishes, and refill the dog's water bowl in a frenzy, because my building is doing some sort of maintenance work on the pipes today and all hot and cold water was scheduled to be turned off after 9:00am. Just made it. I washed my last glass, and then, moments later, when I tried to fill my Pregnant Lady Water Bottle, the faucet just sputtered out a hiss of air. Luckily, we have plenty of Poland Spring lying around, our stockpile after the blackout two years ago.
The plus side of apartment living is that you never run out of hot water like in suburban homes, and most major repairs (like pipes and roofs and things) are taken care of by the building. The bad part about apartment living is that sometimes they just turn off all your water entirely. Or turn off your air conditioning. Or you have crazy upstairs neighbors who love to drill things when you're post-call. Seriously, after all this time, what do they even have left to drill? Their walls must just be a honeycomb of drill holes.
* * *
I know in the last entry I said I would talk about our biggest baby purchase to date, that being the elaborate and exhaustively researched stroller system that we finally decided to get. But be warned, this may be boring for those of you who don't give a rat's ass about 1.) strollers 2.) ridiculous baby gear in general, or 3.) fine Netherlandic engineering. So you can skip this next part with all the pictures. I don't mind. However, if you are like me, and are a total whore for freaky European products and have been known to spend hours upon hours scouring the internet for the pros and cons of various makes and models of baby gear, to the point that you have specific customer reviews from Epinions and Amazon memorized word for word, then this is the entry for you.
The stroller system that we finally decided to get was this one: The Quinny Buzz. (All pictures below are courtesy of babycare.nl.)
I know--what? The Quinny what? Who in the what now? Before I explain to you about why we decided to get this stroller, let me first talk about what we were looking for in a stroller in general, and our reasoning for finally choosing this one.
Given that we live in New York and hardly ever drive anywhere (except for Joe driving to work, and me occasionally hitching a ride with him), we wanted a real pedestrian stroller. Not a stroller just for the mall, or for short jaunts around the block, or for wheeling through the parking lot between the supermarket and the car. This stroller had to be our car. We wanted something that was sturdy and steerable, we wanted a smooth ride for those less than pristine city streets, and we wanted it to be able to fold up and be portable in the event that we decided to jump on the bus or the subway. And also, let's be honest, we wanted a stroller that looked cool. Given all these factors, we were willing to pay a bit more for the stroller we were eventually going to get.
We had, of course, like any shamelessly trend-conscious set of Manhattanite parents-to-be, thought long and hard about getting the Bugaboo Frog. As I noted before, on an average day's stroll through Central Park, it seems that everyone has either the Bugaboo (bigger stroller), or the Maclaren (smaller umbrella stroller)--and in all honesty, most people probably had both, since the Bugaboo isn't something that really easily transports onto bus or subway, given that you have to take the seat off to fold the damn thing.
We were very, very close to getting the Bugaboo. After some fruitless searching for a cheaper deal off eBay (if this was your plan as well, my advice would be to wait a year or two for the heat from this stroller to die down, because even the used Bugaboos I found were selling for close to full price) we were pretty much resigned to the idea of paying sticker price for that sucker. I know, I know, it's a ridiculous amount of money for a stroller, and the fact of it's very existence inspires vitriol on many a parenting discussion board (countered by a just-as-ardent passion from the Bugaboo-owning contingent). But whatever. Argue argue argue, agree to disagree, in the end, people can choose what they want to buy and how they want to live. Case closed.
My reservation with the Bugaboo in the end was the very fact that everyone had one. Seriously, my last weekend at Buy Buy Baby, I must have counted 10 Bugaboos in the store (with babies in them, I mean, not the ones on display), and maybe 5 on the street during our walk to the store. And if it seems like I'm overthinking this whole "trendiness" thing and the avoidance thereof, you're right, I totally am. I just felt like I didn't want to be so obvious as to get the Bugaboo, tagging along with the Manhattanite stroller brigade. I wanted something that functioned and drove similarly, but was a little more unique for our kid. Enter the Quinny Buzz.
The Buzz had all the features that we were looking for. Full suspension, fully reclinable and reversible seat (meaning you can look at your kid while strolling, or have them facing out), very steerable, very foldable, with "gas spring" unfolding--which means that it unfolds basically by itself when you push a button, not unlike those adjustable height office chairs. And, as the final nail in the coffin, it folds up even with the seat still attached to the frame (see picture above). This inability to fold without taking the whole damn seat off was the lamentable drawback to the Bugaboo, which you basically had to deconstruct in order to fold, which I imagine would be difficult to do one-armed while holding a squalling infant in the other arm.
The final pro: The Buzz cost about three hundred dollars less than the Bugaboo. Sweet. However, the major con: The Buzz was not available yet in the United States, and would have to be imported from the Netherlands. Ah so.
So after doing some more research and reading some reviews and descriptions of the Buzz, we decided (OK, I decided, and then convinced Joe, who took the, "I don't care, whatever you want" stance--smart man) to do what this guy did and figure that if we're paying the importation fee anyway, we might as well get two strollers with the order--the Buzz, and another umbrella-type lightweight one for travel. This other stroller is called the Quinny Zapp. Buzz, Zapp--clearly this is a stroller marketed for the gadget-loving daddy-types of the world.
As you can see, the Zapp really does fold up ridiculously small, and weighs about 10 pounds less than the Buzz. It even comes with this cute little bag to stuff it in, which I anticipate will be useful those four or five times a year that we drive up to Baltimore or fly to Ohio to visit Joe's family.
And if you're thinking that both of those strollers look a little big and lacking support for a newborn, you're absolutely right. Which brings me to the final piece of my "one-time-importation-fee" scheme, the Maxi-Cosi Cabrio carseat.
Both the Buzz and the Zapp come with attachments that enable the carseat to be snapped onto the stroller frame instead of the standard stroller seat. I know that Bugaboo has a similar option, but here in the US, the Bugaboo attachment only takes the Graco Snugride and the Peg Perego infant seat, which hold babies only up to 20 pounds. We originally decided not to get an infant carseat just for that reason, just because we felt like it would be kind of a rip to get a carseat that you're only really able to use for the first 4-6 months. However, the Cabrio can be used up to 12-15 months, or up to almost 30 pounds (I guess whichever your kid reaches first), so with the added versatility of use with both strollers, we felt like it would be a nice option.
Here's a picture of the Cabrio snapped onto the Buzz frame. (It snaps onto the Zapp frame too, which is nice for use with a younger infant since the regular seat on the Zapp doesn't recline.) The Cabrio also comes standard with a sunshade, a really useful feature, especially since we'll probably be using the seat more for strolling than for actual driving.
So yes, we ended up returning the carseat that we bought two weeks ago. It was a hard decision, since the first carseat carried up to a weight capacity of 40 pounds, and the utilitarian in me was screaming "Now you'll have to get a new carseat when the kid turns one!" But honestly, even before all this, I was having some doubts as to whether the Britax was even going to fit in our car, especially in the rear-racing position. We have a two-door 1991 Honda Civic, and trust me, it's a tight squeeze back there. We'll still have to deal with the bigger carseat issue at some point, but we have a year and a half to get there, and at least we'll be able to transport the kid home from the hospital now.
So anyway, the basic gist of it is this: for the price of a Bugaboo and a carseat, we ended up getting two strollers and a carseat. And thus endeth the Silly First-Time Parent Consumer Rationalization Section. I will update those interested when the gear actually ships, with reviews and pictures that I hope will be useful to other people contemplating taking a similar leap of faith of buying a stroller that you haven't actually seen in person yet. Most of the product reviews out there are in Dutch or German or some such thing, so I figure that if I have anything contributing to the English-language opinion pool about these products, all the better.
And my final thought here is: Dammit, why didn't I know about these strollers while we were actually in Europe? I could have just brought them back to the US myself and saved us the international shipping fee. Oh well, too late.
Currently reading: This article about 19 elementary school students in Philly being put on anti-retrovirals after some freaky 8 year-old kid went around pricking people with her mother's HIV-infected insulin needle. Apparently, one of the kids who got pricked has tested positive for HIV. This is such an insane story, it's almost the stuff of urban legend.