What TSG is rocking (and rolling) lately….

So I had three babies. At once. In terms of strollers, I knew this would be either heaven or hell. Turns out its a little bit of both. Also, I have a 2 year old. So, this is what I have in my arsenal:

- Triple strollers suck and there are almost no options. I bought the Peg Perego Triplette and 3 Peg Perego Primo Viaggios. This was for almost no other reason than because I didnt want Graco infant seats and thats what all the other triple stroller frames use. Also, I love Peg Perego.

I wont be doing a review on this because, well, how many people are really in the market for this? But hey, if you want one, you let me know. Spoiler alert: Its like driving a cruise liner. But in a good way.

- I kept the Uppababy Vista but also bought the ‘piggyback’ running board and the second seat to make it a double. I also bought car seat adapters for Peg Perego. This way I could use it for a baby and my 2 year old. Or if I only had one baby (the Vista comes standard with a great bassinet), or if we had two adults so could split babies between us.

- For the other adult or if I had only two babies in a stroller I added the Baby Trend Double Snap and Go. One of the cheapest strollers I have ever bought, and also one of the most used. We had one for our twins 7 years ago and I am happy (and surprised) to say it hasnt changed at all. You go, Baby Trend.

 

All it does it carry two car seats. Its light and easy and practical for Dr visits and quick trips or when you dont want to use full bassinets. But I DO want to use full bassinets so I also got:

 

Thats right. I did it. We went with the Bugaboo Donkey twin. So, all the thousands of disappointed readers who I see come here from googling “Bugaboo Donkey review”, you will finally get one. Oh, and since I know you are wondering: we put two babies in one bassinet. More on that later because it was a TOUGH decision and I spent a lot of time with my laptop resting on my huge baby belly weighing all the options. I also got it because, darn it, I wanted something pretty and decadent and fun.

Oh, and we also still have our Aprica Presto. And, I have the Inglesina Trio Domino chassis awaiting seats and toddlers to put in them. And thats just until they are bigger, then this will all change again.

So I will be back ASAP as I am working on the Donkey review and will also do a little about the Vista as a double/ triple. Because I know Vistas are crazy popular and are about to be even more so with the release of the Mesa car seat. Which reminds me I ALSO need to do some coverage of the ABC Show. I havent forgotten you!!!

Been a little busy…

I hesitate to bring my personal life here too much, but I did want to take a quick minute to explain why I have been such a dismal Stroller Girl for the last few months.

So. Yeah. I will be back soon with all my new stroller acquisitions (some boring, some not so boring) and reviews and so on. Just as a reminder, I am taking a break from personal consultations so please don’t be angry at me if you write and don’t get a reply. Thanks for being so understanding!

xxx TSG.

 

One of my Stroller Girl dreams….

Is to sit in on a design planning session with the folks at Bugaboo. I pinky promise I won’t say anything, or eat anything, or even look at anyone directly in the eye. I just genuinely want to know whats going on in there. I want to be able to pinpoint that *exact* point where these design geniuses, the people with the inside edge on style, take that step from “Fabulous” to “I must have misheard you, you want to do what now?”. 

Because Bugaboo have had lots of design stars. Their Paul Frank special line still nets 150% to 200% over original retail if you are lucky enough to find them. The Missoni line, despite being released in the middle of the Bee-Front-Wheel-Armageddon of 2011, was pretty gorgeous. But then, they also are responsible for the horror that is the Bas Kosters Bugaboo…

Image

Tell me, would you put your gorgeous squishy soft newborn in the middle of that? 

And today, while still sleepy eyed and totally unprepared, I opened my email to find three separate readers alerting me to this newest Bugaboo Special Edition: 

Image

Oh and this one. 

Image

Oh wow, is that neon….ummm… coral? And to use it on plastics!

This little baby can be yours exclusively through Nordstroms, for $1059. Of course, if you are looking for a Bugaboo that almost no one else has you might want to just stick with the regular ‘off the rack’ color combination. At this point with Bugaboo releasing about 25 “Special Editions” a year, they would do well to remember the old adage: when everyone is special, no one is. 

 

The Stroller Girl Review of the 4Moms Origami…

Image

I am getting so many emails and questions about this stroller, I thought it might be easier to just do a whole review on it instead. I saw this at the ABC Show last year, and was impressed with it in the same way I am impressed with those $5000 japanese toilets that can read the newspaper to you while you sit. Very cool, but just kind of…… unrealistic.

The main premise of this stroller is that it is the pinnacle of tech gadgetry. It has headlights, its battery powered, and it folds and unfolds itself. It has a great USB port for recharging your cell phone. Oh, and it has an LED screen that tells you the time, temperature, how far you have travelled, how many steps you have taken, and a very handy picture of the child in case you forget you have one. Its THE perfect stroller for people who forget they have children and need a flashing LED baby to remind them. Fabulous. The presenter at the ABC Show was extremely proud of the feature that the stroller won’t fold with a baby in the pram, it will FLASH A RED LIGHT AT YOU to make you remember to take the baby out before you fold it.

I just don’t know what to do with that.

Anyway. It does fold itself with the turn and press of a button, and that is powered by a battery that is recharged when the stroller is being used. If for some reason your stroller battery is dead, there is a manual open and close mechanism as well. The fold is quite compact, which is nice for people with smaller cars or who store their prams indoors.

Also, there are little hidden wheels that are only out when the Origami is folded, so you can wheel it along like a suitcase.

Which is good, because the Origami weighs in at 29 lbs, AKA one of the highest weights on the market for a single stroller. Comparatively, a Maclaren Quest weighs 12lbs, the BabyJogger City Mini weighs 17lbs, the Cameleon is 20lbs and the (in my opinion) already a little too heavy UppaBaby Vista is 24lbs.

Because of the shape of the stroller- having a large ‘spine’ instead of a more traditional rectangular frame, the seat has a very slight recline which means it can’t be used until 6 months with the regular stroller seat. If you plan to use it with an itsy bitsy, you will have to buy the bassinet ($150) or the car seat adapter ($60). The car seat adapter is only available in Graco, which is disappointing. Hopefully they will release adapters for Maxi Cosi and Peg Perego as some point. Also, the handlebar doesn’t adjust at all, although it is quite high (I am 5’10 and was in 3 inch heels when I tested it and it was fine for me) so that might not be a problem unless  either you or your baby daddy/ mama/ partner/ whoever are very short or very tall.

Another ‘side effect’ of the spine shaped frame is that the underseat basket is very very small. As you can see, it apparently only fits a sock monkey.

And unless that sock monkey has two bottles, four diapers, a pacifier and my Grande Iced Coffee crammed into its abdominal cavity, its not very big. Don’t think you will be able to get around this by hanging a diaper bag on the handles, because you aren’t allowed.

The Origami in its base package retails for $850 and comes in 6 different colors. As I said, if you want the accessories to use it from birth, it will be $1060.

OK, so that what I like and don’t like, now let me summarize it in a neat little package. I think that super cool and unusual strollers have a definite place. I liken the Origami a little bit to the Xplory: Its interesting, it has features that no one else has, and its going to get some major attention. However, also like the Xplory, its not the most day in and day out practical. I cannot imagine having the Origami as your only stroller til your child is 4. I have enjoyed my Xplory’s the most when I also own a normal, practical pram to go with it, and I can wheel the Xplory out for ‘special’ occasions or when I could be bothered. I am really turned off by the lack of recline, and the non-existent storage or ability to hang a diaper bag. Spending $1000 on a stroller doesn’t bother me, but it better do a whole lot for me and my baby. I don’t think the Origami can say that. I worry that the many many gadgets will break and then be useless (4Moms back up the Origami with a 2 year warranty). Will it be OK after you get caught in a rainstorm when you are parked in the last row of the parking lot? I also wonder how often many of the things will really be used. With a tiny recline, small storage and only being forward facing, the reason people are buying this over, say, a Maclaren or a BJCM is because of the high tech stuff. But honestly, how many times have you been walking through the mall and thought “I wonder how many steps it was from Nordstroms to this food court?”. Or, needed to know right then that the Dr office was cooled to 72 degrees? I do like the USB phone charger, but the rest just seems superfluous. And $850 is a lot to spend on superfluous.

If you have an extra 1K laying around and don’t know what to do with it, or you have a dear old Aunt who wants to buy the baby something special, by all means get one and marvel over the baby on the LED screen. But if you are reading this because you are trying to decide on the one stroller you plan on using until your gorgeous bebe gets on the bus to preschool, make sure you are looking past the shiny bits to the real practicality of the Origami.

Uppababy Vista: Two Months in….

Its been two months since I got my shiny new Uppababy Vista. And in the spirit of testing, I have used it almost every day and I am back with more thoughts on it.

I am genuinely torn over how I feel about the size. I have admitted before that I like big ‘pram-ish’ strollers, and for kids under 2 I do prefer to have them nice and high and enclosed. So I DO like it for that. On the other hand, this thing is BIG. If I am going to a Dr’s office, dressing room or restaurant, I am not taking it. I actually feel like a bit of a tool taking it in crowded shipping places too, like the clothes racks at Target. The wide rear wheel base means I occasionally have moments when the back wheels catch on something and I  go crashing into the handlebar- and I might or might not curse loudly and then people are looking. Grace and elegance: I’m doing it wrong.

Which brings me to my next and biggest issue with the Vista: What the h#ll am I doing wrong that I cannot fold this flipping stroller? Thats not a rhetorical question, readers. I ACTUALLY want you to tell me. Because I am 5’10, not slight or weak by any means and my folding the Vista and getting it into my car looks a lot like this:

I don’t know whether I am the guy on the bottom or the one winning. Depends on the day.

Because it is far too heavy to fold ‘in the air’ if that makes sense, some part of it is on the ground, and right now that ground is wet, cold and dirty. It also means that parts of my stroller are getting gross and/ or damaged and that makes me very angry.

See? Did that within 10 seconds, the very first time I closed it. Disappointing.

Like I said last time, the Vista is too wide at the rear wheel base to fit in my minivan ‘flat’ on the floor. 

Ugh. So, I have to sit it on its rear wheels and handlebar like this:

Which makes it kind of harder to get in and out. Oh, and I drive a 2011 Toyota Sienna, so its not like I am trying to fit in it a small car. Again, this can’t be a huge problem because people fit them happily in cars all the time, but its something that bugs me. Really, its the only thing I don’t like about it- its very wide rear wheel base and its bulk/ weight. Its only one thing, but because I am a suburbanite and get it in and out of the car a lot, its something that I notice often.

I do think it steers well. I have received a few emails saying the opposite, and I can see why it would seem that way. Its not going to push like a Cameleon, because it weighs 5lbs more (25lbs versus 20lbs) and is wider and longer. But, for a heavier, bigger, taller and ‘prammier’ (Trademarked ‘prammier’ already, don’t even try….) stroller, I think its pushes really nicely.

The basket is huge and easily accessible from both the front and back of the Vista. Its handy to be able to fit diaper bags and everything else in it at once.

The seat is very spacious, it has a nice high seat back which is important if you have taller kids or plan to use it til age 4. For anecdotal evidence, here are my two youngest daughters in it:

This is my ‘baby’, she is 18 months. She only weighs about 23lbs but is very long at 34 inches. She has a long way to reach the end of the foot rest, and about 5 inches to the top of the seat. I have no concerns about her being in this stroller for another 2+ years.

Lola is almost 4. She weighs 40lbs and is 41 inches tall. Even at that age and height, she still fits. Her head does not touch the canopy when its extended, although her feet are easily past the footrest when she stretches her legs out. She doesn’t ride in any stroller anymore, but she could fit in this one if we made her. And if you are still planning on using the Vista til a higher weight limit or 4 (whichever comes first) this is a good example.

I also still love how easily the seat reclines (one handed- far better than the Cameleon in this respect) and reverses.

So, in summary. I am glad I spent $385 on this stroller. I would not be as happy if I had spent $700. I feel like anything up to $500 is a decent price for the Vista, which is lucky because its what you can get one for now on eBay or almost anywhere else. I think its an excellent choice for its price range, and for people who want a bigger stroller. However, if budget allowed I still wouldn’t choose one over the Cameleon. In terms of agility and overall quality, I think the Vista comes in second place.

That said, I have no plans to sell or pass on the Vista. I like it. I think I will like it a lot more if we have another child before our youngest hits three so I can use the rumble seat, which I really like the look of. Right now its my second full size stroller other than the Orbit Baby, and I like having a bigger more classically styled pram as well as the uber modern Orbit. I am happy I got to try one out. :)

P.S- I was not a fan of the UppaBaby foot muff, so I am using (and you can see in the pictures) the Petunia Pickle Bottom Stroll. 

The gorgeous Phil and Teds Promenade…..

One of my absolute favorites strollers from the ABC Show in September, the Promenade is now available for purchase and is just AMAZING. Its obviously a close competitor of the baby Jogger City Select, but here is why I like it more:

1. Better quality in every way. Especially in seat fabrics, my biggest issue with the BJCS.

2. The ability for each seat to be a bassinet. You all know I am BIG on bassinets, they are just so much better for babies than being stuck in a car seat or even laying flat with their legs up in the air.

3. I am not a huge fan of how the BJCS looks in single mode. I don’t think the Promenade has that issue.

Its $849 for the single and then $999 for the double. Pricey, yes. But worth it, especially when you think that its $700 LESS than the Donkey in the same configuration (two bassinets).

I can’t wait to start seeing these around towns.

New for 2012: The Maclaren ‘Globetrotter’

I know, it looks like a Volo. But its better (and more expensive, ha!) The Globetrotter has a seat that can recline in multiple positions, and an extended canopy for extra sun protection. Like all Maclarens, it includes a rain cover, one handed fold and carry and a lifetime warranty. I LOVE Maclaren, I think they make the best umbrella strollers on the market, and there is enough styles to get everything you need and nothing more.

The Globetrotter will be released in January 2012 in 5 colors: Red, pink, bright blue, black and a more muted blue-ish lilac-ish unisex-ish. It will retail for $199 in the US, which is another $70 over the price of the Volo, but I think its worth it for the extra features you get.

Because it doesn’t recline fully flat, its only recommended from 6 months up. It weighs just over 10lbs and has a weight capacity of a whopping 55lbs. Thats, like, Justin Beiber.