This is the face of a very adventurous one year old girl. A girl who once upon a time was almost always wrapped to her mamas body - a bit timid in the face of a big world and almost always comforted by the closeness of being carried on a parent's hip.
But all children grow up, they say, and Claire has done so as well. As I'm told by her teachers, her grandparents, all my friends (and seen with my own eyes) Claire has somewhat exploded as a human being within the past month and we are delighted and also trying to catch up to her rapid fire developments!
A girl who once only said "hi" and "mama" now answers "Claire!" to "What is your name?" She can make the animal sounds of no less than 10 animals and has begun to hum along to the ABCs. We are still working on "please, thank you, you're welcome" but she unsurprisingly has a firm handle on "more, help, up." She can spot a "woof woof" a mile away and loves to point out the moon.
Most of all, she has decided that physical independence above all else is a necessity when we are out and about and because of that we've had to reconsider our thinking in the stroller department....
As the proud owners of a nice little arsenal of baby carriers, we previously hadn't owned much of anything in the way of a good stroller. We have a great jogging cart (essential) that was a generous gift, but it has a fixed front wheel so it doesn't function as an everyday stroller - it's literally only for running or attaching to the back of a bike. For everyday trips to the farmer's market or park, we had a pretty crappy Britax that was a total disaster once we started using it with our 23 pound baby.
That "B-Agile" could fall off a cliff as far as I'm concerned - while it seemed fine with a teeny newborn that we didn't take many places, with an active toddler it suddenly seemed flimsy, rickety, and difficult to steer. No room for storage, a recline method that woke a sensitive napping toddler, and such crappy wheels that if we hit a curb she was nearly tossed out altogether. (Also, these are all things highlighted in the stroller's many one star reviews - WHY did I not read the reviews???)
One thing I have learned with babies is this - and this applies to nearly everything out there - buy the best, and don't buy it new!! People change their minds almost constantly and you can buy strollers like used cars; with very little mileage and a big discount.
Want to know how we got our hands on this stroller for $350? I'm going to let you in on my best kept parenting secret (but only now that I've perfected my "stroller stash" haha!)
My #1 go to for baby gear is Little Britches
But let me back up. After doing some research online, I decided the only way to go was to get an Uppababy.
This one is the Uppababy Vista, their most full-featured stroller, and to say Claire and I are in love with it would be a gross understatement. This thing is the Cadillac of strollers. She frequently climbs into it and tries to buckle herself in - I am not kidding!! Just to give you a quick overview, these are a few of my favorite features and reasons why I chose it:
- Folds in one piece (or two, for a more compact fold)
- Huge extendable sunshade
- Adjustable footrest
-Magnetic peek a boo window in the sunshade so that you can check on a sleeping baby with no noise
-Automatically locks when folded, but easily unlocked to unfold.
- Seat reclines to five different levels facing out to the world or towards the parent - this includes a position where baby sits up entirely straight, which was an essential for Claire
- Comes with a beautiful bassinet for the newborn stage so can be used from birth
- The basket underneath is literally the biggest of any stroller on the market, and accessed so easily - it also has pockets near the back for essentials like phone and water bottle
-Has an option to add a rumble seat to make it a double stroller, and 2015 version can be a full double stroller with two toddler seats, or a toddler seat and bassinet
- Telescoping adjustable handlebar for parents with a big height difference
-Foam filled rubber tires will never ever go flat, but it has great suspension that keeps baby from feeling bumps in the road
-Adapts to fit many brands of carseats to be a travel system, including Uppababy's own highly rated brand, Mesa
-I also love how high up Claire sits in it, and I find it to be a really attractive stroller - no, not Bugaboo attractive, but we'll get to that in another post in a couple of weeks!
Basically it has everything. I had to have it - nothing else would make me happy! Having had a baby for over a year I know how much those little details matter, and since I was making the investment either way I wanted exactly what I wanted.
I knew Darrell would never clear me to pay the full price tag, and admittedly it was hard for me to swallow as well (over $1000 for the whole kit and caboodle new, gulp) so I called Little Britches to see what they had available! Sure enough, there was a silver/black frame Vista in stock - my preferred color combo - and she was letting it go for $350.
Little Britches is an incredible discount baby gear store in my hometown, but lest you think that irrelevant to any of you that live across the country, let me first say that they ship, and at quite reasonable rates, in my opinion.
Kelly, the owner of Little Britches and deal finder extraordinaire, has relationships with baby stores all over. These stores have policies that prevent them from accepting any products in shipments that have even slightly damaged boxes - I'm talking bent corners, tiny holes in cardboard - baby stores have among the most strict and sometimes pointless standards for order acceptance. In addition she hunts down gently used items or accepts them for store credit and spruces them up. While there is no high-tech website, I prefer the personal approach you can get from her store - she'll post giant albums of photos of what's available in store from time to time, and you can comment there on half off Diono car seats, Uppababy and Bugaboo strollers in every style and color, and bassinets, pack and plays, walkers, bounce seats from 4moms (I could go on, but I'll stop here, you get the idea!)
If for any reason you don't see what you're looking for on their Facebook page, message them! They will keep an eye out for deals and get back to you, in my experience almost always within a couple of weeks. No matter your price range, needs, I've never found a better deal somewhere else on an item I needed for Claire - I truly swear by them for baby/toddler gear, and so do all my friends with children.
I'll also link you here, to my favorite baby gear reviewer on Youtube, where she demonstrates how each feature works and how to fold/assemble this specific stroller.
*PS - this post was not sponsored in any way! I genuinely love this store and am always eager to help support businesses in my home town. Buying baby gear for Claire at Little Britches has saved us so much money over the past year!