Rave Review: Baby Trend TrendSport Stroller

Before traveling to the Philippines, my husband and I knew we needed a smaller and lighter-weight stroller to use for Miguel during our trip.

Miguel's first stroller

We’ve made good use of his Graco Quattro Tour Deluxe Stroller (Bombay model) ever since he was born (which I absolutely loved), but because it got quite bulky after a while (it got stuck at an airport screening machine during one of our domestic travels), we decided to hit our local Babies “R” Us store prior to traveling to check out some smaller models.

There were some things about Miguel’s Graco stroller that I didn’t want to give up, the main thing being the large storage basket underneath, which always came in handy during our trips to the mall or the park (I carry a LOT of stuff with me whenever we go out). I also liked the included cup holders (for Mommey and baby) and the built-in sun shade on this thing.

We looked at umbrella strollers first, since nothing beats them if all you’re considering is the weight. Plus, they’re the cheapest, costing only at around $29.99 each. Unfortunately, most umbrella strollers do not come with any of the stuff I wanted to keep (basket, cup holders, shade), so we tested models that were a “happy medium” between umbrella and travel strollers.

We first considered the Chicco Capri Stroller (Black model, $79.99*). It is the closest you can get to an umbrella stroller, but it was better-built, and it came with a small basket underneath and a shade on top. Sadly, the basket was too small, and it didn’t have any cup holders. Price-wise, it wasn’t bad. It seemed practical for our needs.

Next, we looked at the Maclaren Quest Sport Stroller (Black and Scarlet model, $229.99*). This was very similar in terms of features to the Chicco stroller we were considering, but I was put off by the flimsy rubber footrest. I expected much better for something like this. Maclarens are fancy (and so are their price tags), and I know a few friends that use them. There are days when I also dream of owning a branded baby item (hello Bugaboo!), but at this time, I just could not see us spending over $200 for a stroller that I know will get a lot of abuse at the airports (and pretty much everywhere else we take Miggz to).

Then we saw the Baby Trend TrendSport Stroller (Nile model, $54.99*). This one got everything we needed checked off.

Miguel's current "travel" stroller

It was the perfect compromise between a bulky travel stroller with all the bells and whistles, and a lightweight stroller with its ease of use and transport. It had a nice, roomy storage basket, a decent canopy, and a cup holder/food tray for Miggz, plus an additional cup holder for two up by the handle. It didn’t fold like an umbrella stroller, but folded compactly enough to not give us any headaches at any airport we went to. And the best part, it was only $54.99, cheaper than the Chicco we were eyeing, and costed much, much less than the Maclaren. All in all, it was a great buy! Practical and tested! Needless to say, we took it everywhere we went and definitely got our money’s worth.

*Prices listed are the costs when we looked at these models at Babies “R” Us three months ago back in November 2010. Since it’s now February, these prices have actually gone down. An idea for those who are wondering how long it takes for some baby items to go “on sale.” At times…it actually takes sooner than three months 🙂

Could This Be True? I’ve Come Up with a FAMILY BUDGET!

A couple of weeks ago, Terrence and I had a night out while my parents took care of Miguel. We hit up our local Barnes and Noble (it’s a little bit of a further drive from our home now, unlike the two-minute-away Barnes we had back in Jersey, but it’s in a great location in Val Vista…nice shops in a park-like setting, with plentiful restaurants—a perfect place for a date night). We went there to get a break, of course, and to get our *free* magazine fix. At the end of the night, I gave myself a pat on the back for coming out of there without making a purchase. In our double-income days, I almost always get something from Barnes (a gift, a card, a cute notebook for me, a book for Miguel, etc…).But not that night.

Lately, I’ve been more conscious and cautious of our purchases for obvious reasons. I really thought I was doing well, until last night, when I decided to compile all the receipts from the past month and a half, and add up what we’ve spent out-of-pocket (I won’t even divulge the number…it’s embarrassing to say the least). After seeing where our money went (some were practical expenses, most others…not so much), I’ve come to the realization that it’s time to create a budget and really stick to it. It’s the only way we’d be able to avoid unnecessary purchases.

I’ve been blessed with a frugal husband who wants nothing to do with paying the bills, leaving the financial control (and the freedom that comes with it) up to me. My financial mantra in the old days was as long as we’re paying everything on time, any extra money is free for spending (and my gosh, I do most of it!). Well, it’s time for a new financial mantra for the family, and it starts with this budget breakdown…

39% – Housing

22% – Health Insurance

15% – Misc (Credit Card Payments, Phone Bill, Gas)

10% – Groceries

6% – Miguel (Diapers, Wipes, Milk)

4% – Dining Out

4% – Clothes Shopping

…and it really should start with me. If we skip on the dining out and clothes shopping, we get to save that money. But realistically, who skips on dining out?

The clothes shopping might be a lot easier to give up…we’ll see.

Taking Care of Business

After a month and a half of being in Arizona…this week we registered our car and got our Arizona license plate and drivers’ licenses. We’re not really required to do this immediately (by definition, Arizona Residency means seven months of being in the state), but we decided to go ahead and get it over with. Plus, insurance rates in AZ is sooo much cheaper than the NJ insurance we carry now, so it was better of that we switched up sooner than later.

Below is a breakdown of what we’ve spent:

$27.75 – Vehicle Inspection and Emissions Test (valid for two years)

$122.21 – Vehicle License Tax (Arizona charges this fee in lieu of property taxes charged by other states. This fee is based on our car’s value, which is now five years old. If it were a new car, this would have been a LOT more.)

$8.25 – Registration Fee

$4.00 – Title Fee (we had to give up our NJ title for the car and they changed it to an AZ title)

$1.50 – Air Quality Fee (not sure what this is for…but they charge everybody it)

$25.00 – Driver License Fee (for me, expires in 2046, when I turn 65 years old)

$25.00 – Driver License Fee (for Te, expires in 2040. At first I wasn’t sure why the difference in expiration dates, but I’ve figured that this is the year when Te turns 65 years old)

So there. It goes to show how different our state is from NJ. I am curious when the time comes when we purchase our home, if they really won’t charge any property tax. I’ll think about it when we’re there 😉

UPDATE – February 2012:

After living in Arizona for a year-and-a-half now–and getting my AZ Real Estate license–I was clearly mistaken to think that Arizona did not charge property taxes. The state DOES charge property tax, and currently it is 10% of the assessed value of your (residential) property. Not bad…that is still significantly lower than what most states charge (it’s definitely much lower than NJ taxes!!)

Operation: Family Schedule

We’ve been in Arizona for almost a month, and I must say the progress that we’ve made is great. We’ve got most of our boxes unpacked (except for those tagged as “new home” for when we eventually move into our own home). Our room and Miguel’s room are pretty much set up. For our room I just need to get to work on organizing our files, a task I wanted to get done in New Jersey but didn’t have time for. For Miguel’s room, we just have a wall border to apply, and his transportation and safari-themed bedroom-playroom will be complete.

Now all that’s left to do is LIVE. BREATHE. ENJOY.

In the time we’ve been here, our days have been pretty much unstructured: lazy mornings, brunches, and no designated bedtime except for Miguel. But after a month, I really feel like it’s time to put some order into things, especially if I want to be a productive SAHM. Here’s a preliminary schedule I’ve drafted:

8 AMRise & Shine: Miguel wakes up, takes a bottle. Most days he’ll snuggle and snooze some more for an additional two hours (I’ll try to resist the urge to sleep in with him from now on). I’ll get up, have some coffee while I read for half an hour (emails, Facebook, the morning paper), and contemplate what to prepare for breakfast.

8:30 AMCan I be a Culinary Queen? Time to cook breakfast. I hope to be able to whip up some goodies from my dusty old cookbooks, deviate from the usual bacon and eggs from time to time.

9 AMBreakfast. Just some quality time to enjoy the first meal of the day.

10 AMThe First Chores Get Done. Miguel takes another bottle. Clean-up after breakfast. Take out food for lunch to cook/heat up/or thaw.

10 AM to 12 PMA Two-hour Block for Morning Activities. Playtime… errands… a time to tackle to-do’s.

12 PMLunch Prep. Cook rice, etc. This might be a good time to try out those recipes from Giada or Rachael Ray. Miguel takes another bottle (he only drinks 4 oz. at a time, hence, the frequent two-hour feedings).

1 PMLunch Time.

2 PMClean Up After Lunch. Take out food for dinner to thaw. Another bottle for Miggz.

2:30 PMShower Time.

3 PM to 5 PMMiguel Naps. This is a good time for me to get a break and either nap with him, or work on hobbies I’d like to get back into or start doing (photography, scrapbooking, writing among other things).

5 PMDinner Prep. Miguel wakes up from his nap and takes another bottle. Time for me to cook rice for dinner.

5 PM to 7 PMEvening Activities. Playtime and bonding with the grandparents. A nice two-hour break for me and the hubby to get our own things done.

7 PMDinner. Miguel will take another bottle after his meal.

8 PMTV Time. Fall shows are right around the corner…yess!

9 PMEvening Bath. Then a final bottle for the day for Miggz.

9:30 PMBedtime. Miguel is off to bed. Lights are turned off, and he eventually dozes off.

10 PM Miguel is Asleep. =)

10 PM to 12 Midnight Late Evening Activities for Me and Te. Wash and prepare his bottles for the next day, kitchen clean up, maybe more TV, Facebook time, blog updating, etc.

12 MidnightLights Out. Time for bed. Tomorrow is another day.

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