The Pregonaut

A non-breeder's journey into the unknown

Strolling along September 27, 2009

Filed under: Provisions — anditron @ 8:22 am

Cat ScanHere is our stroller, getting a cat scan. Hey, we had to test it out and make sure everything was working. Right?

Trying to figure out the best stroller for us, out of the I don’t know how many gazillion there are out there, is hard work! We started looking back in May, schlepped out to a Babies-R-Us in the burbs. The trip was long and overwhelming in many ways but mostly in trying to understand what we actually need versus what the world *says* we need. Babies, like weddings, are big business and much money is to be made from first timer’s with no experience with kids what-so-ever and all their relatives and friends. The reality is, I think most of it is a bunch of crap. There’s a reason why our wedding was offbeat. I expect our pregnancy and parenting will be pretty offbeat too.

So while at BRU (as parenting sites everywhere call it) we dodged dozens of other couples doing the same thing we were. We tested out a few different styles and found that we really liked the jogging stroller for it’s sturdiness and maneuverability. But beyond that… we didn’t know much. One was too big, this other type had a locked front wheel. We thought about weather in Chicago and 12″ of snow and trying to get little tiny wheels through shoddily shoveled sidewalks and street plowed drifts at corners. We knew that plastic wheels wouldn’t hold up, and especially not those tiny little ones that were only like 6″ round. We found one travel system (that’s a stroller and infant seat) that seemed affordable and doable. It didn’t fold easily, but we thought surely that’s just cause it’s a floor model and gets beaten up on a daily basis. So we figured we found what we were going to get, but would keep our eyes open just in case.

Over the next few months we became obsessed with strollers. Eyeing every jogger-style that passed us, noting names and colors and size. Did the parent look like they were struggling? Did they seem to like it. We became more brave asking questions and noting the answers. Then we found someone with the one we were thinking of getting and they told us… Oh NO! They hated it. It had wonky wheels and didn’t collapse well. They were getting rid of it and buying a new one as soon as possible. This actually coincided with a lot of reviews we’d read on it. Suddenly we were back to square one.

Then, one day, I was at a bike shop searching for a specific type of basket for my new bike. I entered this store, found what I wanted and had them put it on. While I was waiting, I decided to check out the strollers they sold. They were called the Bob. It was nice. Its moves were smooth like butter. One hand to spin it ’round. One move to adjust this or that. So simple compared to the one we had thought about. And a sales guy came over to give me more info. He showed me how it collapsed… only two steps! And all the other features. I was in awe and love and then I saw the price. This stroller was twice the cost of that system we had thought about and it didn’t have an infant seat! But the big 16″ wheels made me swoon. Yes, I said swoon over big air-tire wheels.

When I got home, I started researching it. Does this company make other strollers? What colors do they come in? Reviews? I needed more info. I told Bob909 about it. (Amused at the name.) We found that REI sells them, and he is a member so he gets a discount. That just made it a possibility.

Over the next few months I started noticing them everywhere. Everywhere. This along with one other brand were easily the most popular ones around. Was it because I think all the others are crap? Or was it because they’re really that good. So again, I started asking questions. And everyone I asked said the same thing, they swore by them. The best investment they made. They hold up to 70lbs (more than any other stroller I seemed to come across) meaning you can use them up to 4 and 5 years old.

When I stopped to think about it. My road bike was $800 new; I’ve had it for 5 years and I can’t even use it every day. This will be used every day, probably for a good 3-4 years at least. But most importantly, it seems everyone we know discovered the first stroller they bought was crappy or it wore out, or it was outgrown within a year or so. Especially those travel systems. Then they had to buy a new one because what they bought initially didn’t fit their lifestyle. Of the people we talked to with the Bob, many wished they’d bought the Bob to begin with as it would have saved much heartache and frustration.

After much thought and comparison, we decided to get the Bob at REI. We managed to luck out and get an additional little discount on it as well, so that definitely sealed the deal. My dad, who was up for a visit and took us to get it, bought it for us as a baby gift. Incredibly sweet of him and completely unexpected. Also, fortunately, my brother still had his son’s infant seat which he is giving to us so we managed to balance out the price difference pretty reasonably when it comes down to it.

I think this is the problem with BRU and places like it. They have so many options, which is good for ease of shopping, but they don’t have everything. In fact, I’d say the majority of stuff I saw I would consider lower end and not that great a value. When buying things like a stroller and crib and such, you have to think of the investment of it. How long do you want to use it for? If it’s a crib, do you buy a crib then a bed later or a 3, 4, 5 in one? It depends on your situation. Your life and how your baby will fit in there. Shop like you would for a car. You do plenty of research and talk to people about those. You go to different dealers to test drive and look at different models and bargain for the best price. You have to ask important questions such as “Will it hold up? How sturdy is it? and Does it fit *my* needs”. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in the price of things and wanting to make quick easy decisions because life won’t be a cake walk much longer. Marketing and business are always making claims you need something, it’s hard to see what is true or not.

So take your time and research. You’ve got 9 months to figure it out!

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My Aerocar has how many wheels?

Filed under: Provisions — anditron @ 6:51 am

jetsonsHow do I get from A to Z? It’s a constant question, especially when living in a large metropolitan area with loads of public transit and you don’t own a car. BP, that’s before pregnant, the weather tended to dictate how I got around town. Being a cyclist means having different concerns. Traffic congestion isn’t one of them, I know I’m never going on the highway. It was usually a thought of, do I want to take the lakefront trail or has it filled up with too many pedestrians at this point. I preferred not to ride in rain, but could and would, just altering routes for increased safety. Winter in Chicago always challenged my convictions, but I tried my best to be on my bike if there was no snow and I had clean warm gear; failing that it was public transit all the way.

Being pregnant has affected my lifestyle (and I know having a child will even further) in so many ways, but to start with… I can’t ride my super shiny silver Ghost of a road bike! I’m not afraid to ride it… I just can’t throw my leg over the top tube or bend over like that anymore! I also have this beautiful classic girl’s Schwinn Suburban, I *thought* I’d be able to ride it but unfortunately it’s over the weight limit of what I can carry so I can’t take it in and out of the house.

I needed a new (at least to me) bike solution and fast.

Fortunately, my husband acquired an old mixte-esque frame from a friend ages back. He never got around to doing anything with it but he thought “well, maybe I’ll put it together for my wife.” (I was still able to ride Ghost at this point, barely.) At about the same time, a friend sent me a link to something Bicycling Magazine calls “Biketown”. They pick a few cities every year and, over the summer, give free bikes away to essayists who can show how having a new bike will change and improve their life. Well, heck, how could I not try for that. I write, I bike, my life is changing one way or another – why not make it for the better. A new commuter style bike is exactly what I need in my prego-state; to ride for the remainder of my pregnancy, but also to attach the trailer to once our little Bot is big enough. So I wrote a little essay and forgot about it.

A week later, Bob909 got around to building the bike for me. A pretty good bike for being a total Frankenstein’s creature. I bought a nice sturdy basket for it – the less I have to carry on my back, the better – and I was back on the road riding everywhere and thrilled to be doing it.

Then I had a really bad morning. I found that for the first time in about 4 years, I overdrew my bank account. I was grumpy, stressed and had woke up at a ridiculous hour thanks to baby rumblings in my belly. Just as I was about to say “Forget this back to bed” I got an email telling me I won a bike. Holy cow, was I surprised. (The day miraculously managed to improve further but that’s not relevant here and now.) I showed up at a special little event to pick up my new ride. It’s a smooth riding Jamis Citizen in a light frosty purple. I can’t say enough how much I love Jamis Bikes. What a great company to be doing this for people!

We’re now overloaded with bikes! Between my husband’s two (and he has a third in pieces he hasn’t put back together yet) and now my four, the apartment is getting pretty packed. We’re going to sell the one he built for me, might as well right. but that still leaves us with five bikes between two people (I can’t wait until the little one can ride and we have to add another one). It’s a good thing we’ve got a decent sized basement and a great, understanding landlord.

 

The Turtle Moves August 10, 2009

Filed under: Provisions,Space Station — anditron @ 11:33 am

Paul Kidby DiscworldIt’s boiling here in our little haven and I haven’t been able to get out of the house at all. Ok, honestly, I could have left, but let’s put it this way. It’s 12 Midnight and 81F and I just had to crank up the AC to high because I’m sticking to my couch. Going outside when barely any of my clothes are comfortable was *not* on the top of my things-to-do list. So when I’m stuck inside all day and pregnant, apparently I shop. I’ve been scouring websites, reading reviews and generally looking around here and there for the past few months, but nothing terribly serious. Today I guess was the true kick off to my nesting instinct.

We are ridiculous fans of Terry Pratchett and while Bob909 introduced me to most things which I grew to love, I introduced him to The Discworld and all the great characters therein. I’m currently rereading the series (I just can’t get enough) and we had a discussion early on that we’d love to do a Discworld-themed room for our baby. I have visions of a giant turtle swimming through the sky and a super hairy orangutan sitting by baby’s crib reading a book… like maybe Where’s My Cow. The only reason the look might change depending on boy or girl is really that it might just get a slight nod to one or the other in colors… but no pink either way!

thumbnailBecause we won’t find out for a couple more weeks whether our bot will be a boy or a girl, I promised myself I wouldn’t go buying anything or adding anything to my registry until we knew, but surfing around I came across this little guy and could not resist.

I also ended up finally deciding on a crib. I’m trying to be a thrifty mom-to-be (you have to be when unemployed) and I can’t justify putting anything on my registry I’m not willing to figure out a way to buy myself. So I think I found a nice compromise between cost, aesthetic and such. I opted for the DaVinci Rivington 4 in 1. We went back and forth whether we needed a 4 in 1, if we even need a crib, if we want a more simple standard one. But when I looked at prices and what you get for the money and longevity… well, even if we end up in a place that can’t have a full size bed for our bot, we could sell it at that point and I’ll feel I got our money’s worth.

I did add a few other things, but one gratuitous consumer post at a time. It is probably bad that in the registry you can mark “Nice to Have” vs. “Must Have” and the Sea Turtle is the only item I marked as Must Have So one big thing down and it feels like a billion to go.

Oh well… I can feel the idea of my Discworld Baby room starting to take shape. This gives me glee.

 

Stompy Zombie Attack July 21, 2009

Filed under: Celestial Body,Provisions — anditron @ 5:37 pm

Chicago zombie pub crawl Well, it happened. I knew it was inevitable, I was just really hoping I wouldn’t succumb so soon. Yesterday I had my first true bought of Pregnancy Cravings. I was rabid. The picture Bob909 nabbed yesterday shows it all. I was feeling hungry and wanting celery and peanutbutter for a snack. That wasn’t so much a craving as it was I knew I needed some protein and wanted something I hadn’t had in the last few weeks. So we put on our shoes and ventured out the whole 3 blocks to the grocery store.

But then it struck. While we went in for just two little things, we always end up remembering other stuff we need and suddenly we needed a basket. No biggie until we walked by the ice cream aisle and a lightbulb went on in my head so bright if I had a migraine my head would have exploded. I turned, walked right down the aisle to where the frozen snickers bars were. I haven’t bought those in a year! But I had to have them. I ripped open the freezer door only to find their spot vacant! I pushed and pulled all the nearby frozen treats to the side hoping against hope to find that glimmer of my MUST HAVE NOW TREAT! But no luck. Sure, just below it the Snickers Drumsticks stood tall and proud. Yes, just down the aisle a couple of doors was a shelf of Snickers ice cream by Breyers, but that wasn’t what I wanted.

I saw an employee and raced toward him. “Please, you’ve got to have the snickers ice cream bars in the back right,” I demanded.

“I’ll go check,” he replied. He was smart, noticing the wild look in my eyes he quickly did an about face and ran to the back. To bad for his family the answer was not the one I was looking for. After I devoured him I proceeded to scare off all the customers in the aisle as I ranted and thrashed about in desperate hunger for an ice cream bar.

Meanwhile Bob909 found this all extraordinarily funny. He taunted and teased and laughed at my insanity. He would suggest one thing or another and chuckle as I foamed at the mouth in rage.

“I want my snickers ice cream bar,” I roared!

“Do you want to go to another store?”

Of course I didn’t, another store was a good 15 minutes away. I wanted ice cream in Snickers form and I wanted it NOW. Finally he stuffed a regular snickers bar in my mouth in hopes that it would act as a tranquilizer. Luckily for all involved it did and I staggered back home where Bob909 hid in a closet with the kitties while I cleaned the blood of the poor employee off of me and slowly transformed back to my normal sweet-natured self.

I’d like to think a lesson has been learned here but really, these cravings are swift, sudden and completely random. There’s no telling what I will demand, but I’m sure the local grocer won’t make the mistake of having anything out of stock again.

 

 
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