Child Safety Seat Review: Apex 65

When Josiah had outgrown his infant carrier carseat, we decided to move him to Eila’s (Gray Britax Roundabout) and get her a new one that would last her until she would be done with carseats and boosters, so after much research and hemming and hawing we ended up with the Brown Alpha Elite Apex 65.

I love the Roundabout, except for the price tag, so I knew that I wanted a car seat that had some similar features and was equally well-rated for safety. The features that I was most interested in for this new car seat included: five-point harness for up to at least 65 pounds and booster seat conversion after that, easy pull tightening/loosening system for adjusting the harness each time, and comfortable ride for the lovely occupant. We wanted to be able to use the LATCH system as well. Being easily washable would be nice, but it’s not really realistic in a car seat.

So, in my research, I narrowed it down to the Apex 65 and a Britax. There are lots of Britax models that would work for the harness, but I figured I’d still have to buy another booster seat except with one: Regent with a 5-point harness up to 80 pounds and for up to 53″. In either case, I figure that Eila will outgrow the height before the weight, but I could be surprised. Eila is currently around 34 pounds and 38 inches at almost 3.5 years. She is very average sized (50th percentile). I visited several stores to try to find the Regent and see how big it really was, but never found it. I did see the Marathon and knew that the Regent was considerably larger, so I wasn’t really sure how it would fit in my little Mazda Protege5. With the really big difference in price, I had to go with the Apex. Here are some stats compared.
Regent (harness to 80 pounds):
Seating Compartment Height (in) 27.75
Seat Area Width (in) 12
Shoulder Width (in) 15
Harness Slot Heights (in) 12 / 14.4 / 16.75 / 19.1
Buckle Strap Depth (in) 7.4 / 9.4
Product Weight (lbs) 25
Exterior Product W x H x D (in) 21.5 x 30 x 25

Apex (harness to 65 lbs., booster to 100 lbs.):
Seating Compartment Height (in) 28;
Seat Area Width (in) 13.5
Top Harness Slot Height (in) 17.5
Buckle Strap Depth (in) 4.0/ 7.0
Product Weight (lbs) 17.2
Exterior Product W x H x D (in) 19 x 28.4 x 20

Most of the time, I feel like it was a great decision for our family. The car seat fits in our tiny backseat without any trouble, but there is no room left even for a very small person to sit in the middle. When we want to take more than 4 people in our car, we can only do so illegally, so, of course, we don’t do that! 🙂

The giant Apex 65 takes over the backseat, but on the plus side, Eila has tons of room in it. Honestly, she still looks like you could fit two of her in the car seat and once she did invite Josiah to come sit with her – they both fit (while the car was not running). She can cross her legs and take a nap; her head will still rest easily on the wings. The crotch area fits her snugly, and is not tight yet, but there is not much room for growth. She is already on the third set of slots (our of four).

After about a year of use, there are some regrets in not splurging, but I think if given the choice I’d pick the Apex 65 again. The main complaint that I have is in the tightening and loosening of the straps. We adjust them with each use (as everyone should!), but it is really hard to pull it tight enough. Sometimes, I pull so hard I pick the seat up and it still isn’t as tight as I’d like it. Since this is a feature that I had specifically wanted and that is used every time we get in and out of the car, it can be more than a little annoying, plus it effects the safety, which is the whole point.

The arm rest covers were removed by Eila as soon as she sat down and they remain on the floor of the car (I attempt to replace them every so often only to find them removed again…) The cup holder is removable, which is a good thing as it sticks out from the right side of the seat quite a bit. Eila is currently very interested in making sure that the cup holder is in its proper place to hold her water, but it is a little low and far forward for her to reach it easily while strapped in. She is able to strap herself in, but struggles to get the snap for each side of the buckle between her legs. Unfortunately, I’ve pinched her leg in the buckle a couple of times, which shows how it is a pretty snug fit (or that I wasn’t paying attention).

As for washing the cover, I’ve only done so a few times, but it was fairly painless and cleaned up great. The brown color hides dirt pretty well. I read that only the brown ones have the EPS foam in the head rest, but I don’t know if that is true of newer models as well.

The car seat was fairly easy to install and tethered to the back without any problem. Tightening the latch strap proved to be the most difficult and making sure that there wasn’t too much sway was tricky, but not too bad. I wouldn’t want to install it regularly, but it only takes a few minutes really. Although, the Roundabout is ready in about half the time (still rear-facing, but I don’t think it should make a difference in installation time.) is a fabulous site with lots of great info. If you want other options for big car seats/ boosters, check under the Front-Facing and Specialty Models section.

When shopping for a new car seat, it’s a good idea to check out the NHTSA.

So, the Apex 65 is big and not so easy to use, but the price is right. I got mine for just over $100 including tax.

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Discipline in Action

Just in case, you haven’t had enough of my thoughts on discipline, I thought I’d describe a few very typical scenarios in our house.

In the mornings when we need to get somewhere in a timely matter, it can be a little bit of a struggle if the children and I are not working towards the same goal (namely for me: getting ready and leaving on time; and usually for them: have fun & possibly also eat). Pro-actively, I will attempt to make our getting ready as much fun as possible. We might play a game of who can get dressed fastest or make a silly face while getting dressed. We might also sing a song about cleaning up or putting on shoes. In deciding what to wear, warnings and choices are of utmost with Eila. I’ll usually tell her: “We need to get ready for preschool, so in two minutes we are going to go to the bathroom and then get dressed. Would you like to wear pants or a dress?” She almost always chooses dress, so then we head to the closet and I pick out two and say: “Would you like the dog dress or the circle dress?” or she will immediately tell me which one she prefers, and I rarely care. If I want her to wear pants; I will specify why and give her the pick of the drawer. She is much more likely to be agreeable and cooperate with my goal in this way. The GBD 5 Steps are a great tool for when choices aren’t working. Step 4 is to help her and so I do. I’ll get out her clothes and help her put them on so that we can leave when we need to – hopefully, not in a mean way, but because she isn’t able to do it herself, just like I help Josiah.

Another troublesome issue for many folks is eating. I really like the idea that I control when and where my child eats and s/he controls how much. I choose what s/he can eat and she chooses what (from what’s in front of her) s/he does eat. For Eila, this works great because she likes to eat and is almost always hungry. She enjoys a wide variety of foods and is willing to try one bite (which is sort of a rule) of anything and almost always wants more after that first bite, but if not that’s fine. Josiah, on the other hand, does not eat well. So for him, I offer the same wide variety that the rest of us eat with at least one food that I know he likes each day. I offer him foods whenever he asks and it’s reasonable (this is the same for Eila), which is usually every 2 hours. If he wants to eat, he must do so at the table, but since sitting for more than 30 seconds is beyond his ability at this time, he can come and go as often as he likes until I put the food away (usually when Eila is done eating.) As for attempting to break the eating protocol, it’s very simply taking food away. In most cases, the kids are done eating anyway and if not, they can try again by sitting at the table and behaving appropriately and get their food back without much ado. It works very well. I tend not to stress about messes while eating, but if they are goofing off, they are done because I don’t like to clean unnecessarily (or really at all.) We try to act in the way that we want the kids to act and they want to act like us, so it works out.

When the kids don’t listen and don’t obey, when they hit each other, climb on dressers, throw hard & pointy objects and put valuables in the dirty toilet, when they whine, cry, yell, or act disrespectfully and unlovingly (is this even a word – you know what I mean), what happens?
Often there are several phases in the process.

Recently, Josiah has been going through a bit of a challenging stage – testing limits over and over again. He is climbing up the dresser and standing on top, looking out the window or just admiring the new perspective. At first I took him down and clearly told him “NO! You may not climb on the dresser. You can climb on the couch or on the bed.” Then, when he did it again, we repeated this with several “NO”s and put him in his crib for a bit. When he did it again, we repeated the admonition and he stood in the corner for a brief time out. When he did it again (the third time in just 6 waking hours), he went in his crib for a full minute with a simple “No!”. He now says “No, No, No” after he climbs up, which shows me that he at least knows that this is not okay, but isn’t able to stop himself, so if he does it again, I’ll move the dresser. I hope I won’t have to.

Now, Eila is an exceptionally whiny child when she is tired. Most of the time, she is extremely well-spoken for a preschooler, but when tired, she barely manages 2-3 words together and uses either a baby voice or a whiny voice, neither of which I have much patience for. As she has gotten older and I’ve gotten a little bit wiser, things have changed… I used to get really annoyed and just lose it. Now, it takes a bit longer for me to lose it, and before I do, I usually will do a few things to help her cope. First, I offer food or sleep or potty. If she doesn’t choose, I might choose for her by saying: “Do you need to go potty? (wait for answer) Let’s have a little snack or would you like to go back to sleep. If you can’t decide or ask nicely, I’ll just tuck you back in bed.” In the event that she is still cranky after a bowl of cereal- her favorite snack, I offer a little cuddle with Mama (which is often what she really wants, but can’t voice it). When Eila is whining at a store or friend’s house, I’ll simply talk to her calmly (sometimes) with two choices: speak with a nice voice and clearly say what she wants or play/sit/walk quietly. If that doesn’t work, we wrap up and head home as soon as possible because she needs to sleep! When we get home, I’ll put her in her room and let her change into pajamas if she wants (and she always does), then say: “You can read books quietly in your bed or sleep in your bed – I’d like you to sleep, but whichever you do is fine. We all need to take a break for a bit.”

Finally, the sticky issue of other people’s kids… I like the policy of each person taking care of their own kid. When someone hurts my kid, though, it’s really hard not to want to “help” the other parent. I have to resist because I know that each mom knows her kid best and what works with him/her, and plus, I need to take care of my own hurt kid. If I’m watching someone else’s kids, they are have the same rules and respect that my kids do – with a little more grace. The golden rule “Treat others as you want to be treated” works with parenting too.

Basically, where there is love, grace abounds and so do limits that have to be enforced. The more I learn, the more I have to adjust my expectations and know that I have more to learn!


Time Drain

Of all the things that I do, like taking care of my children, cooking, cleaning, exercising, reading, attending meetings, hanging out with my husband, etc. The thing that takes the most time and is the least productive must be anything related to the computer.

No matter how quickly I plan to check something, it invariably leads to something else and I spend 20 minutes looking at random things that were not at all related to what I intended to do on the computer, which I may or may not have actually done.

Facebook, reading blogs, and checking email are my serious down falls. It is easy to waste away hours just looking at what other people are doing and then reading about what people they know might be up to… Oh well. I’m allowed several guilty pleasures, right? As long as they don’t get in the way of my responsibilities… Does the bathroom really need to be clean?


Friday’s Feast

What is your middle name? Would you change any of your names if you could? If so, what would you like to be called?

Michelle. No, but as a kid I wanted to change my name to something much shorter – I think I was just lazy…

If you were a fashion designer, which fabrics, colors, and styles would you probably use the most?

Probably bright silk colors for going out type of attire. This would assume I was creative and could sew, which are not the case.

What is your least favorite chore, and why?

I hate cleaning, that includes vacuuming, laundry, dishes, bathroom, dusting, mopping, sweeping, etc.

Main Course
What is something that really frightens you, and can you trace it back to an event in your life?

I am terrified of being abandoned by my husband – traced back to my dad leaving when I was 5 years old.

Where are you sitting right now? Name 3 things you can see at this moment.

I’m at the computer (go figure) and I can see the large box of papers next to me waiting to be filed, a cute french board book, and a map of Paris from 1615 that Brian and I bought on our honeymoon.


Cloth vs. Disposable

I feel like there should be more choices in diapering than just cloth or disposable. I know that there are some out there who don’t diaper at all, but that isn’t really a diapering choice although in some ways I can understand the idea of not training a kid to go in a diaper only to untrain them later. It’s the Baby Whisperer‘s mantra of: Start as you intend to go on…

I can’t decide which diapering choice is better. I like the cloth because I feel like it must be more comfortable (when not wet) and lends itself to easier and quicker potty training. I also like the reduction in garbage as well as the cute designs offered in cloth. I didn’t know it before, but I really appreciate not having a scented diaper with cloth diapers. I don’t really like doing laundry at all, so cloth diapering only adds to this chore. I also feel a little bit badly for leaving Joe in his diaper far too long at times as it must be very uncomfortable all wet.

Pros in disposable diapers include being able to hold more liquid waste than anyone would imagine a diaper could possibly hold (but not solid…). So, I like being able to use only one diaper at night and how that diaper is relatively slim. I also like the small size of disposables for traveling and not having to bring them back with me. On the flip side, I can’t stand the smell of disposables and the cost is outrageous!

So, I cloth diaper mostly at home except overnight. When we are out and a diaper change is needed (rarely), I have disposables in the diaper bag, so that’s what I use. At home, Brian usually uses disposables. Since I’m often the one at home; the balance is toward cloth, for now.

I’m curious. What do you use? And why?

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Best of Times

There are some parts of my life that I wouldn’t trade with anyone – no matter what. Several moments like that occur everyday and I want to treasure and remember them! Here are few examples of precious events over the past two weeks… being the apple of my husband’s eye, vacuuming the rug with Eila and Josiah each using a toy vacuum to help, reading books in Eila’s bed while nursing Josiah, Brian taking care of everything so I could sleep for two days, waving to Josiah and that being the funniest thing he has ever seen, sharing zerberts with the kids and them spitting on me in return, ribbing Brian for wanting another computer, saying to Brian “what can I do to keep Josiah from falling out of the stroller?” as Joe slams his head into the cement at Zoo Boo, and hearing Eila say “I love you, Mommy!” and Josiah shake his head furiously and laugh “Nnno!”


Being Home

Sometimes I wonder what I do as a stay at home mom… I’m at home very little, so the title in itself is a bit off, but maybe I should be home more. I’ve been thinking lately that having kids so young is really fun when I take the time to enjoy them and play with them – doing what they want, which is to play with me, while we are at home. Often when we’re at home, I need to cook, clean, or they need to eat or sleep. There could be a lot more time for playing if I looked for it rather than trying to move ahead with my plan for the day.

For instance, this past week was VBS, which was amazing in so many ways, but we were out of the house by 8:45am and gone until 12noon every morning. When we got back, it was lunch, then naps, snacks, and then whatever I had planned – shopping, errands, meeting with various people, but no playtime. As soon as we got back again, it was dinner time and then time to sleep. I know that this week was an exceptionally busy week, but I still can’t help but wonder if I’m just letting good opportunities to have fun and enjoy this time with my kids pass me by.

This fall we’ll have something almost every morning, every week and several afternoon commitments too. I don’t want to miss out on the next year, so I think I need to start really evaluating what fits in with our family priorities and then cutting out things that don’t matter as much or where the timing isn’t right. A few years ago, I made a list of 5 life goals/priorities and they still hold true. The test is if I can really be honest about the opportunities and their value to the goals that I believe God has for my life. One of those goals is to be a loving wife and mother, which for me, can only be done by being at home – really being at home.



I’ve been reading about kids doing chores and wondering what age and what types of chores are good for starting out. It appears that many people (ok, maybe not many, but at least a couple of parents) start their toddlers with simple chores, like “helping” with laundry, emptying the dishwasher, setting the table and cleaning up, dusting, and even making beds.

At our house, we don’t make beds, but maybe it would be a good thing to start now – Josiah could do his bed as there isn’t much to do and Eila could pull up her blankets, I think she might even like it. For laundry, Eila already occasionally helps me transfer loads from washer to dryer and I heard that some kids really enjoy cleaning out the lint trap. Josiah seems to love the dishwasher, at least as a climbing gym, and Eila knows where the silverware go and helps when she is in the mood. I don’t trust her to help with setting the table and clearing it, but would like her to try to take care of her place at the table. So, I guess it’s time to make a chart or at least a list of chores and remember to include Eila in these activities.

I found a fabulous website for just this sort of thing and I may sign up and keep track online. I’ll probably do rewards, but not allowance at this point. I never got an allowance growing up, but it might be good for older kids in learning to budget and handle money. We’ll see as we get to that point. For now, Eila thinks that stickers are the coolest, and nothing in the world could be ice cream as a reward. One reward I might try is letting her choose books to read or videos or something like that; I don’t want food to be the only reward – something I personally struggle with.



I am always learning and want to always continue learning. This week these are some things that I’ve learned:

Eila notices and remembers everything – or at least much more than I previously gave her credit for.Josiah needs a routine too.

Hiding God’s word in my heart really does help me not sin against Him.

If I want to leave the house with everyone dressed, I have to take each person to the car as soon as s/he is ready to go or start the process over from the beginnning.

Patience may be a virtue, but it is not one of mine.

Brian doesn’t like me telling him what to do.

Eila doesn’t like that either.

Asking forgiveness is hard, but extending grace is just as tough.

Being forgiven and forgiving are amazing gifts and worth every ounce of effort.

I feel lost without email; sad, eh?

The more I pray, the more I want to pray.

Laundry does not take care of itself.

Neither do the dishes or any household cleaning tasks.

Saying “I’m so happy!” can make things seem a lot better than they did before, even if they aren’t any better. It helps to lift your hands up to the sky and smile while saying this, and even add a little hop.

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Peace & Quiet

I have been trying for some time to get my children on the same or at least somewhat overlapping nap schedule and today I have succeeded! It is wonderful to have a little time to myself during the day and do a few things on my ever-growing list. But, first I procrastinate by chattering on and on about how I have a few minutes of time while both of my beloved children nap… I suppose that having quiet might be something that others would try to escape or fill. I am not like those people. I enjoy not hearing anything at all – except right now the click-clack of the keys on the keyboard and the final spin of the washer with an occasional bang from the overalls in the dryer. However, when I’ve said my bit here, I’m going to go read a chapter or two and curl up with in the easy chair with no noise (I’m not even going to change the laundry!) Peacefulness is, of course, a gift from our great God and He has blessed my heart with peace even while Eila spent a good portion of the morning crying because she was hungry, but didn’t want to eat and Josiah fussed because he has a cold and is generally uncomfortable. So, I’m off to relish the peace and quiet in the house while it lasts.


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