23 July 2015

Three Car seats in an 07 Ford Fusion

For the first time in seven years, we, officially, my friends, are a two car family.

We decided to take the expensive European car seat + cheap sedan route. It definitely feels like the right move for us. I mean, not that buying two cars in one year ever "feels good," but given the set of circumstances we had, I like the outcome we chose the best.

So I get to keep the silver 07 Fusion that we bought after our red Focus was totaled a mere five months ago. I'm glad, as I really like the Fusion: it's a manual, it has some upgraded features that the Focus didn't have like power windows and fog lights, and the trunk is huge. I easily fit the double stroller plus all the luggage in the trunk for our summer vacation this year.

I think my car would look fabulous with pink racing stripes. No, I'm totally serious. If racing stripes were something you could buy by saving up Christmas money, I would totally do it.

As I mentioned in a previous post, the girls' car seats were Target's compact car car seats and I was sure there was zero chance that a third seat would fit in that backseat, so I thought our only option was to buy a vehicle with third row seating.

The girls' "old" seats.

But after some thought, I came to the conclusion that I didn't want to drive a big vehicle and Matt didn't think we could get what we wanted with what we could afford. So I opened the car seat search up from "What Target sells" to "What you can find on the Internet" and found a number of expensive European seats that were smaller than ours. I bought two Diono RadianRXTs on Amazon with free shipping and free returns and a Cybex Aton 2 from Kohls with free shipping and free returns. We added in our two Eddie Bauer XRS 65 Convertibles and Baby Trend Expedition ELX infant car seat. One night after the girls went down for the night, we lugged our six car seats out to the Fusion and began testing lineups.

While the Eddie Bauers and Baby Trend did technically fit in the backseat, it was tight. As in "the infant seat hangs over into Abigail's seat" tight. And while the Cybex Aton 2 bills itself as one of the smallest, lightest infant car seats on the market, my four year old "cheapest jogging stroller/car seat combo that Babies R Us sells" was both narrower and (slightly) lighter! The Aton 2 was shorter from head to foot, but length doesn't matter for our purposes.

So we chose the two new Radians + our Baby Trend infant. This gives us the most space between the seats and between the seats and the door. When this baby outgrows the infant seat, we'll almost certainly buy another Radian. Three $300 European car seats is an expensive option, but definitely cheaper than an SUV.

Side note: technically the Radians work from birth, but I really want to be able to get the new baby in and out of the car seat in the apartment and set the baby down outside or at a store or doctor's office. Abigail is a runner and I don't feel safe having two loose kids plus Abigail, so we/I want an infant car seat that snaps into and out of a base.

Once we secured a three car seat lineup, we moved on to getting a second car. We knew we wanted either a Ranger or a Focus and set our price range. Matt mentioned our search to his dad, who mentioned that he was looking to sell his 07 Ford Focus by August. It's a very basic model, two door hatchback, but it's a manual, runs well, has been no major accidents (damn deer), and was well within our price range. So, we bought it!

It's incredible having two cars! It feels so great especially because we really, really paid our dues in One Car World. It wasn't so hard before we had kids, or even with just one kid. And it was very easy in Chicago when we barely needed our one car. But once we moved to a rural town, it became more challenging. Then we had two kids and things were genuinely burdensome.

There is a bus that runs from our rural town up to Lansing, but it only runs once per day. The timing doesn't correlate well to Matt's work schedule, so on days he would take the bus, he'd have to wake up at the crack of dawn and he'd be gone an extra two hours. Sometimes the girls and I would drive to Lansing to pick him up if I didn't want to wait the extra time for him to come home. It stunk, so I rarely took the car so he could rarely take the bus. But there are no parks within walking distance and no backyard or basement for the girls to run around in. We have had to turn down short-notice play dates. I can't couldn't run the girls up to the doctor's office or Urgent Care if something worrisome popped up. I can't couldn't run errands or pick something up at the grocery store. I have to would group all my appointments into as few days per week as possible, which stinks because young kids tend to have a "one store maximum" tolerance level.

Sometimes I would need the car for something incredibly tiny, like a twenty minute parent-teacher meeting at Abigail's school on a rainy day (so I couldn't walk up with the girls). Matt would wake up at the crack of dawn, be gone almost all of the kids' waking hours, walk home from the bus stop in the rain, heat dinner in the microwave and eat alone while I got the girls ready for bed. All for a twenty minute meeting.

When we started Abigail's summer therapy, the sacrifices we were making to stay a one car family became greater than the rewards. And thinking about life with three kids? Ugh. I'm really proud of us: we held out as long as we could. We stuck with it until the pain was too much to bear. Now it's finally time! It's only day two, but we are totally relishing the rewards of life with two cars!

My Mommy car gets a sparkly bracelet on its shifter. Abigail declared it "pretty!"


Cammie Wollner said...

When I saw that you were fitting them all I wondered if that was what you were going to get! That's what we have to James and it is now my all time favorite car seat. The only thing I didn't like about it was how heavy it was installing it, but at the same time it feels like it's so much stronger than the other car seats we've had. And I love the narrow size! So glad you were able to fit all three in together!

Amelia Bentrup said...

Congratulations on the second car!! I'm impressed you held out as long as you did with only one car, unless you live in a place that is totally walkable or one parents works very close to home, so it's no big deal to drop them off and pick them up, it's a major pain and trial.

Kourtney said...

I think that your research on various sizes of car seats will really help so many parents. I know that there are many parents in your similar situation. I agree that the three expensive car seats were most definitely worth not having another huge car payment. The information on where you found the carseats and and the end result will be very helpful to parents who have more than one child and are on a budget.

Kourtney @ Thomas Sales and Service Ford