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.

Comments (2)


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.

Comments (1)

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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Practicalities of Discipline

I’m finally following up the rest of my thoughts on disciplining, and these are my findings so far, based on my flawed usage and my kids.

What works (in my order of preference and use):
GBD 5 Steps
Love & Logic, Conscious Discipline 1 and Conscious Discipline 2 (Choices with natural or logical consequences)
Giving Time to Adjust to Change

What doesn’t work:
Telling them what to do and then punishing (time outs, loss of priviledges)
Asking them to do something and telling the consequence of not complying – Eila will almost always choose the consequence no matter what it is!

I’ve found that having too many rules or too much info, doesn’t work, but Eila needs to know what to expect and what’s coming up. Josiah is starting to want that as well, as he gets to the point where he can understand that there are some things he can do and some things he cannot do.

Yee House Rules:
Treat others with love and respect. (We do not hit or push or kick other people at any time for any reason.)
Listen and obey.
When we’re done playing, we clean-up.
We go to our room when we can’t behave appropriately.
No climbing on moving things (like ride-on trucks) or big furniture (like dressers or tables).
No eating or wearing shoes (princess shoes included) while jumping. (This rule changes with the season – it was previously: Only throw soft balls.)
Only play on the computer with Mama or Papa.
Ask before you take (especially for food, but also applies to toys & taking turns).

There are always consequences for not following the rules. The most common one is no more jumping. Followed closely by “We can play with that after we clean up this.”

Finally, the most important rules (which are the silly rules):
No Smiling.
No Laughing.
No Having Fun.

As our kids get a little older, I’d like to implement “Our 24 Family Ways” from the Clarkson family, which I discovered in the back of Sally Clarkson’s The Mission of Motherhood.

So, for some real life examples, you’ll have to await another day.

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Getting Older

You know you’re getting old (and have young kids) when:

Your husband’s co-worker thinks his iPod is an antique collectible.
You go to a kid’s play cafe to get out on your birthday, and you enjoy it.
Shoveling the snow makes you huff and puff.
It’s 10am and you are ready for bed.
The only birthday gift you request is a quiet night out.
You forget all the birthday gifts you get at the party.
And, finally, your father jokes that you are only an acquaintance now because he doesn’t have kids THAT old!

I’m now 30 and proud of it.

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Bye Bye Pacifier

Eila’s third birthday was last week and she started ballet last Saturday since she is three years old now and a big girl. Part of the requirement of turning three and taking ballet was to give her pacifiers to a little baby who needed them, and so she did. I won’t say it has been easy, but it has been done. She is going to sleep mostly on her own and only wakes up a few times with a little moaning and crying. The only real change that came with this was that she is now sleeping in the pack and play (in the middle of their already very small and crowded room) because she just isn’t quite ready to fully be a big girl, yet.

It was our intention to get rid of Josiah’s pacifiers at the same time, but as they were waking each other up at different times, we decided that we’d let Eila adjust to breaking the habit before we force it on Josiah, who should take it pretty easily after a few nights. Seeing as he has pneumonia now, though, I want to wait until he isn’t sleep deprived from coughing and difficulty breathing before throwing another wrench in there.


Cool Beans

I’ve been taking some strolls down memory lane recently. Eila dripped a bit of jelly out of her sandwich (she now eats pb&j, yippee!) and it reminded me of lunch everyday at SHS when Steve would drop jelly from his sandwich. I finally got to reconnect with my better half (the square root of Shan squared). Brian and I took Eila to see the dinosaurs this weekend and had lunch near the Bell Tower, parking on East Ann. Grant came over and wanted to listen to Five Iron Frenzy. We went to Chicago, home to many a great trip in the past and a fun time seeing my sister. Brian and I went on a date, just like when we were young… It was all very cool beans.


My Sweet Babies

Eila and Josiah in the jogging stroller



It’s almost time for Josiah to eat again, so this will be quick. But, changes are taking place now. My new baby is starting to sleep better (ie longer) at night and my big girl is starting to speak in sentences and make her desires clearly known. This means, that by the grace of God, just as I need more patience, I am getting more sleep, which invariably helps with the patience… Yeah!

Also, the house hasn’t changed nearly as much as I’d imagined for having a newborn. Going from 0-1 child rocks your world (or at least it did mine), but going from 1-2 kids was a walk in the park and things are basically the same as before, except that there is another baby to take care of. So, the really changes are in the level of noise in the house and the amount of time it takes to get things done – both growing with more children. Also, the amount of love has grown as well and the pleasure at watching them develop and do the things that kids do.

Change is not always bad. In fact, I think I like all of these changes, even the trying ones (like Eila drawing on the walls and floor and peeing on the chair rather than in the potty…)


Separation Anxiety

So, I thought toddlers were supposed to have separation anxiety or at least notice when their mothers leave them for any length of time.

Brian and I went to a wedding this weekend and left Eila for the first time overnight. She stayed with my sister at my mom’s, so Grandma and Aunt Amber were fighting over taking care of her. I’m sure there was no lack of love and attention, but still, I thought she’d be a little excited to see us again, especially her mom. Alas, I was mistaken, because Eila was actually a little upset that we were back and trying to end the fun at the park. I’m still trying not to let it hurt my feelings. Once we got back home, she was more affectionate and even cuddled with me for a few minutes.
I was a little afraid that I would be the one with separation anxiety since this was her first extended time away from me since I became a mother. Honestly, I did pretty well. It was a little stressful when Amber called and asked how to get into our house (we forgot to leave her a key, oops!), but Eila did fine at Grandma’s, and the wedding reception was a great distraction for me. I only cried a bit and that was mostly because of the movie we were watching.


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