Archive for the ‘shopping’ Category
So I starting thinking about gifts early… like a month ago.. but did I buy anything? Not so much… And now I’m officially competing with all the crazies since it’s after Thanksgiving.
Luckily, I’m doing most of my shopping online. And I’ve spent some “mental time” on the process… that has to give me at least a partial leg up on the task.. Right?
About a month ago I wrote about how complicated it could be to find the right stroller. And about how we had bought a travel stroller and infant carrier combo to start out but we still needed an everyday stroller. I also mentioned I was worried about how this stroller would handle the cobblestone in some parts of our neighborhood.
Turns out that the
Quinny Zapp/Maxi-Cosi carrier
This cobblestone covers a small bridge that we must cross to leave our apartment’s courtyard, and it is disturbingly rocky with the Quinny Zapp set-up. To be fair, most strollers would find this stretch challenging.
So within two days of our first outing, we bought the stroller below, a Teutonia, which is a well known German stroller company:
Although still bumpy crossing the bridge, with this stroller we can go for a walk without worry. Besides the bigger wheels, the removable bassinet, which though we thought we didn’t need, has proven to be quite useful.
Where to start on this topic. Things like strollers and car seats were WAY off my radar at this time last year. And I would never have imagined that picking out a stroller is akin to picking out a new car, only maybe worse. I mean really, how much could be involved? Let me answer it this way – after many months of looking, we still aren’t sure what we want, or, more importantly, what we actually need. Hahaha. Yes, this after reading countless reviews, watching youtube videos, talking to friends with younger children, etc, etc..
Maybe starting with the car seat is easier. We ended up picking a Maxi-Cosi Cabriofix car seat/infant carrier, which is good from birth to 13 kgs (~28 lbs).
Why? Because it is popular here in Germany (Europe), known for being safe, and fits into a Maxi-Cosi Easy Fix base, which we also bought. Funny aside, we bought the car seat BEFORE we bought the car.
This Maxi-Cosi Easy Fix base, in turn, locks into the seat of the car via the ISOFIX latches which almost all cars have now. These attachments go by the name LATCH in the US. With this base and attachments, the car seat is more securely attached to the car’s frame. The other big advantage is that it makes taking the carrier in and out of the car super convenient. No need for strapping the seat belt each time, or worrying if you did it right, the carrier clicks into place and can removed with a pull on the release handle while lifting. We installed the base and car seat last weekend and it really couldn’t be easier to use.
Back to the stroller business. And yes, it is really a business. There are sites devoted to nothing but reporting stroller news and reviews. At one site I found useful, BabyGizmo, they have no less than 7 different categories of ‘single strollers’, i.e. strollers for one child:
- Standard Strollers
- Lightweight Strollers
- Travel Systems
- Lightweight Plus Strollers
- Luxury Strollers
- All-Terrain Strollers
- Jogging Strollers
Before you even contemplate if you are going to actually run with a stroller, or go off-roading with baby, there are a list of things to consider:
- Is this stroller suitable for a newborn? Alternately, when will the baby/toddler outgrow said stroller? Many don’t do both extremes very well.
- Is it tall enough for you and your mate? Usually a test drive is needed to verify this. Do you kick the back of the stroller when you are making a normal stride?
- Is it maneuverable / easy to turn?
- Is it stable, do you want to hang a diaper bag over the handles? Any storage areas?
- How heavy is it? Is it easy to fold? Will it fit in your trunk? Will it fit in your trunk with other things – like groceries or suitcases?
- Does it recline? Can the baby lie flat for naps?
- Is the sun canopy big enough?
- Is the stroller sturdy enough for the everyday terrain where you live?
All of this probably seems like overkill right?
And it could be if your lifestyle is stroller optional. When I think of some places I’ve lived, I never saw that many strollers actually being strolled outdoors on a daily basis. Florida is hot most of the year and cities are sprawled out, so the only times I really remember seeing strollers was at theme parks and zoos, and inside shopping malls. I didn’t have baby on the brain then so I could be wrong here. But if you only need a stroller for the zoo and the mall, and you have plenty of trunk space, you can pick one of the most popular travel systems (car seat/stroller combo) at Babies R Us and be just fine. Really.
Budget wise, the range is wide – from hundreds to thousands. The Dwight-Orbit scene from The Office comes to mind.
Where we are now, I walk all the time. With groceries. And there are cobblestone streets and trains and buses to get on and off. Cobblestone and shopping bag space would refer me to a standard, luxury or all-terrain category stroller. Public transportation and our European-sized car trunk, to a lightweight or lightweight plus category stroller. Ay carumba.
So we don’t have our everyday stroller purchased yet. We did buy our lightweight travel stroller. The Quinny Zapp:
It’s light, compact (can fit in airline overhead bin, though we’ll probably gate-side check it), good for taller parents, and the Maxi-Cosi infant carrier can be attached to the frame for use during the first 6 months. We’ve seen this combo around town, and though I have major doubts about it for prolonged use on cobblestone streets, I think it will be great on trips and short outings.
From the Checklist:
x Car Seat
_ Travel crib
We picked up our car on Thursday afternoon.
It was a strange day. There was a heat wave, dry heat coming from Africa, so stepping outside felt like walking in a blow dryer. D ended up having one of those crazy days at work, but we had agreed to meet up early afternoon so we could be at the dealership in time to fill out car insurance forms and do whatever else was needed so we could take the car home. So after my weekly midwife appointment, I came home, ate, and packed a water bottle full of ice and water and met up with D at the main train station at 2 p.m.
We walked roughly 2 km from the closest train stop to the dealership, noting one sign said the temperature was 35 C (95 F). Crazy! The water bottle came in handy. Once there, we proceeded to the office to finalize the car insurance. None of the building was air conditioned; each agent had a personal desk fan going as everyone tried not to sweat in their work clothes. The only agent who spoke English had been only been with the company for 2 days and had to relay questions we had to his boss and was somewhat unfamiliar with the forms.
For all that, the whole process went smoothly. The dealership had taken care of re-registering the car, as well as getting the new plates. Our car saleswoman, Silke, met up with us after the insurance was finished and wanted to show us how to work the radio, etc. but we told her we were ok there. With all the travel for work, we have gotten to know how most of the current cars’ dashboards function.
We went for a late dinner out that night, at a place we’ve been wanting to try for forever. We thought it was French from the outside but it turned out to be Italian. We sat in the courtyard, it was still very warm, under a large, square, terrace-style umbrella. Just after the appetizers arrived it started to rain. Really rain. A few other parties had just left, so the waiter hastily pulled all the tables under the umbrella too. So there we were, luckily sitting at the table closest to the center of the umbrella, in a Florida worthy rain storm, surrounded by strewn tables and chairs, eating mushrooms and laughing.
I just had a conversation with my mother this evening about how we should not “go crazy” on gifts this year. I think she was already thinking similarly because she immediately agreed. It’s not really that the economy has hit us hard, luckily, but just a general feeling that we’ve overdone it a little in the past.
The same thing goes for other side. D’s sister has been talking with him about a budget, which we are all going to adhere to this year. It also avoids a potentially dangerous phenomenon:
Other families or groups of friends that don’t have small children to buy for, are doing gift exchanges. Each person randomly draws one name and has only one nicer present to buy. It saves everyone time and money.
I’m not quite ready yet to not buy everyone a gift, but I did hear recently about a principle for gift giving. Some are crediting it to the Victorian era; I couldn’t verify from where it comes but it goes like this:
– Something you want
– Something you need
– Something to wear
– Something to read (or do)
Great idea? I really like it, I added the (or do) on the last line since not everyone likes to read.