Archive for April, 2008

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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Yelling Deal

So, I have a problem. I am a screamer. If you grew up with me, this would not come as any surprise.

I am not nearly as loud or obnoxious as I was in my teenage years, but that really isn’t saying much. Not too long ago, I started yelling at Eila (when she peed on the special Nativity book that we got this past Christmas – on purpose!) and she started yelling back at me! I realized then that we had a much bigger problem than I had originally thought – now involving my very impressionable youngsters.

In light of this, Eila and I made a deal. After cleaning up the mess and apologies, we agreed to stop and take a deep breath when we are really mad or frustrated with circumstances (and pray!) and then talk as calmly and kindly as possible. If we screw up, the other person will say “Please try again without yelling.”

Honestly, this has worked great for us (but not anywhere near perfectly), in the nearly two weeks since we shook on this deal.

Whining is still my nemesis and wears me out like there is nothing else. Fortunately, the whining is mostly when Eila is really tired and hungry, so fairly easily fixed.

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So, I entered a writing contest at MOPS Int’l. My true story of a very exciting weekend – just two weeks ago- of the adventure of motherhood. Basically, Eila and Josiah got into lots of trouble… lip stick, bug spray, bodily fluids and solids, cooking oil up, down, and all around. I’ll let you know if I get published…


Things I Value


I am beginning to realize more and more how much I really value family. I need to change how I spend my time a little to reflect this value, but I love spending time with our family – immediate and extended. I love them all and appreciate the variety in the bunch. I want my kids to know and love each one of the members of our family too, and I think that they do, sometimes better than I do!


Friday’s Feast


Name a color you find soothing. Lavendar (and it smells nice too!)


Using 20 or less words, describe your first driving experience. When I first drove a manual, I sat through three green lights trying to turn left with a patient Dad.


What material is your favorite item of clothing made out of? 100% cotton (but the close second is made of silk)

Main Course

Who is a great singer or musician who, if they were to come to your town for a concert, you would spend the night outside waiting for tickets to see? I cannot imagine ever waiting outside overnight when I could be sleeping in my own bed to hear some musician in concert, especially if I can get a much better studio recording of said singer to listen to in my bed! I am far to lazy and comfortable for that type of sacrifice.


What is the most frequent letter of the alphabet in your whole name (first, middle, maiden, last, etc.)? E (with 5 occurrences)

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The weather has been so nice the last few days and we have been enjoying the sunshine immensely. I did come to the realization that my two little red-heads must wear hats and be fully covered at all times; they already have a decent sunburn and we aren’t even outside during peak hours.

I love the warm weather and outdoor play and nightly baths and fresh air and lots of exercise! It is all so good for me and for my kids and I am enjoying every minute of it. Thank God for sunshine!



You might not be familiar with this term, but babywearing is pretty self-explanatory and refers to carrying your baby around after they are born, usually with some sort of sling, baby carrier or fancy way to tie the baby comfortably to you so you can still use your arms and hands, but have the baby on you. My babies are growing up and our recent sling moment made me remember fondly my babywearing days.

I started babywearing out of necessity. My first born was carried somewhat, but she was very happy to sit or lie and play by herself. Her little brother was not so much and didn’t get a lot of chance to develop a fondness as the danger of being sat on or hit by big sis was great. Josiah wanted to be held all the time and so he babywearing became our modus operandi. I have a Baby Bjorn and three slings that I made. Now, I don’t sew, and it shows, but they work great and were extremely cheap as far as sling go ($20 total for all three).

When I started carrying Josiah it was mostly just because it was so much easier. He was happy to be held close to me and I still was able to take care of Eila and he slept great when so snug and cozy. It became a habit rather quickly and worked really well for our family. Even when we went places, like the zoo, with the double stroller, I still brought the sling along because I knew that if it wasn’t going well (ie. there was lots of crying), I could carry Joe and at least he would be happy. At times, though, Eila would be the one who wanted to be worn and she would get a chance, but being significantly bigger (read heavier) than her baby bro, she only had a limited time in the sling. I can’t imagine how we would have maintained the pace of life that we did with two little ones if at least one of them wasn’t being worn. I personally, came to love holding Josiah close and grew very adept at all sorts of activities while wearing a growing kid. He became very good at getting in and out quickly and getting comfortable. He knew that he could cuddle up and go to sleep anytime if I had the sling and when he got tired, he would signal that he wanted in…

I stopped wearing Josiah when he was a little over a year old. It was a very gradual drop off once he started walking really well. He didn’t want to stay put when he could explore and wasn’t needing as much sleep. He was getting heavier too, so I didn’t want to carry him quite as much. Then, some friends and family started having new babies and I lent them my slings and carrier, so there wasn’t even the option for a few weeks at about 15 months of age. So, we were done with babywearing. I guess even if we did it now, it wouldn’t be babywearing so much as kidwearing or toddlerwearing.

So, that’s my babywearing story, I hope it will inspire and encourage you to wear your baby. For me, it really was the best! If you are really excited about babywearing, there is a conference you could attend.

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Friday’s Feast (Sort of)

Since the chef is taking the week off, I’m listing instead 5 actions that I like to do… Enjoy!
1. Talking with my husband!
2. Dancing.
3. Reading.
4. Running outside.
5. Giving advice, but without being responsible for what happens if it’s followed! 😉


Friday’s Feast

Invent a new flower; give it a name and describe it.
A sparkling, wispy sort of purple petal with lots of petals making up the flower on top of a thin stem – inspired by Eila and therefore that would be this flower’s name.

Name someone whom you think has a wonderful voice.
Brian, my husband. He could be on the radio as a speaker, as our high school US History teacher once told him. And, I love to listen to him sing. I love to see other people’s reactions when they first hear him sing. I feel sort of proud, as if I had anything to do with it – Ha!

On a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being highest, how clean do you keep your car?
2. I cannot remember the last time my car was washed; I have two young kids who eat snacks, play, read books, etc. in the backseat and when we get home we are often so eager to just get inside that I don’t go back and clean up so it piles up very quickly.

Main Course
How do you feel about poetry?
It’s nice.

What was the last person/place/thing you took a picture of?
Josiah climbing in his crib…
Josiah climbing in his crib

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Tender Moments

There are have been lots of times recently that I’ve wanted to capture and know that if I don’t write them down somewhere, they will be forgotten and gone forever, so here they are.

I have lent out my slings to those in need and have only one left that I don’t really like, but someone else is in need so I was trying it out to decide if it would be okay. My little NINO (Nine In Nine Out) wanted up and so I tested it out with him and he snuggled up just like he had never had a break from being carried. Well, big sis couldn’t be left out of the cuddling and being carried, so she had a turn as well and of course little Joe wanted to do what Eila was doing, so I somehow managed to fit both kids in the sling and we sat on the couch (because who can carry 55lbs in a sling and walk around!?) and read books for a bit – all cuddled very close.

On a rare (hopefully soon to be more common) beautiful spring day recently, Josiah was playing outside while I made dinner. I was watching through the window and he saw me and started to play peekaboo. He kept ducking behind the window in his little outside house and I ducked down below the window in my big house and we were cracking up.

Shortly after peekaboo, Eila and Josiah were actually sharing and playing together in the sandbox. Eila was giving Joe sand and he was saying “Tatoo (Thank you).” Then they were dumping it out and throwing it in the air and all kinds of other hilarious and messy things.

Watching my husband interact with his children is something that tugs at my heart strings like few other things can. Last week, Brian and Eila were dancing, but rather than dancing near each other this time they were dancing together. Eila was standing on Brian’s feet and occasionally he would spin her around. I almost cried.

We pray often in our house and usually Eila likes to pray for things too, like Cora’s mommy to feel better and for Agathe to sleep well and for Nathan to not fall down the stairs anymore, etc. Recently though, she has been asking for things in her prayers. Now, Eila is not content to just pray for herself, but is asking me to pray for her. And, what does she need prayer for (in her words)? “Hannah Montana stuff!”

Josiah loves little babies and will hover near any small child. This is sweet enough, but he not only likes to look at them, he likes to hold them. Anytime he sees babies, he goes up to them, whispers gently, and then tries to hug them, or so you might think at first, but his persistence makes it clear that he doesn’t just want a hug, but would like to take those babies and rock them or hold them and hug them all by himself! He also realizes that pacifiers are for babies and that if they have one near them, they probably want it – even if they don’t. So, unsuspecting babies are forcefully given pacifiers by a little boy who means well, but really scares (and sometimes entertains) them.

That’s enough for now, but there are lots others and maybe I’ll add more another day.

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