Monthly Archive:: June 2012

Up for Debate

See that cute little guy waving at you over there? That’s my son, Oliver. He’s been around for about eight months now, so there’s a lot I know about him, but there’s even more that I don’t know.

I know that he likes Cheerios and hates diaper changes, but I can’t tell you what subjects he’ll excel in or whether he’ll play sports in high school. I don’t know what religion (if any) he’ll follow, what political party (if any) he’ll join, or what career path (hopefully something) he’ll choose.

That’s why I have started to hate shopping for kids’ clothing.

Perhaps I should back up a bit?

When Oliver was a newborn, I went to a store that carries nothing but kid’s clothes. When my older son was a baby, it was the perfect place to get simple essentials: solid and striped shirts, little khakis, pajamas with dogs on them. Because we didn’t learn Oliver’s gender until birth, I didn’t have a lot of clothes and looked forward to buying some cute boy things. I walked out with almost nothing.

Instead of stripes and solids, everything said something. “Mommy’s little prince.” “Grandma loves me.” “My dad’s a rock star.”

The whole store felt like a desperate scream for a parent’s validation. Do we really need to broadcast messages from our babies’ shirts to make ourselves feel better?

Then there are the clothes that let parents live out their own fantasies or hopes for their kids. (“Future quarterback.” “Tough guy.” “Rock hero.”) And the ones that highlight kids’ age-appropriate but supposedly negative behaviors. (“All my mom wants for Christmas is a silent night,” “Here comes trouble.”)

Don’t even get me started on anything that includes the word “sexy,” insults a gender (“Girls rule, boys drool”), or celebrates apathy (“Too cool for homework”).

Needless to say, I don’t buy children’s clothes that are designed make me feel better or that pigeon-hole my kids into certain roles.

And here’s where I become a hypocrite. If you’ll notice, in that photo up above, Oliver is wearing a onesie that says “Captain of the Debate Team.” As my 8-month-old clearly is not really the captain of a debate team, that means I have broken my rule about pigeon-holing my kids and living out my dreams through their clothing.

It all started one day in Old Navy. I was in the baby section and had just turned up my nose at some kind of football-related shirt when I spotted it. “Captain of the Debate Team.” I think I squealed out loud. A shirt that celebrated brains over brawn? Oh my gosh! And, I’ll admit it, I was captain of my high school debate team. (Technically I was co-captain of the Speech & Debate Team, and I represented the Speech portion, but still. The only thing that would have caused me to squeal more enthusiastically would have been one that said “Newspaper Editor.” I was, uh, a bit of a nerd. But I digress.)

So, for a split second, I thought, “No. You don’t like things like this.” Then I bought it.

I took it home and posted a photo on Facebook. Many friends liked it.

I threw it in the wash. Then, the next day, I went to fold it…and turned it over for the first time. There was another phrase on the back I hadn’t noticed before. “Talks 247.”

Suddenly, I felt defeated. Sad. Angry. Stupid.

The shirt wasn’t celebrating intelligence at all–it was poking fun at kids who won’t keep their mouths shut and argue about everything. (Sort of ridiculous for that to be on a shirt for the pre-verbal, of course. It would be much better suited for my 7-year-old. But I digress again.)

After I calmed down, it occurred to me that maybe I was overreacting, so I called my mom for her opinion. She didn’t see it as a bad thing, but she also sees loquaciousness as a sign of intelligence. Without giving the background, I polled friends on Facebook about how they feel about a “Talks 247″ shirt. Some felt it was positive or neutral. Others felt it was negative. A few people commented that they don’t like kids’ shirts that say stuff about their personalities.

So what have I done with the shirt? Well, Oliver still wears it. I don’t like the wording on the back (partly because I interpret it as a ridicule and partly because he’s EIGHT MONTHS OLD AND DOESN’T TALK!!!), but I’m still heartened by the front, even if I do realize the shirt is for my benefit and no one else’s.

I also realize I’m probably overthinking the whole thing, but I suppose that’s important for a debater to do.


Evenflo Embrace 35 Infant Carseat Review: Ding, Ding! We Have a Winner!

Evenflo’s latest addition to their infant carseat lineup is the budget-friendly Embrace 35. I can’t tell you how thrilled I am to have another good infant seat option in the under $100 category. The fact that this is a 4-35 lbs. seat makes this even more of an impressive accomplishment in my book. Still, every carseat has pros and cons and only you can decide if the Embrace 35 is right for you, your baby and your vehicle.

For starters, let’s clarify that the new Embrace 35 is a completely different infant seat than the original Evenflo Embrace model which is only rated from 5-22 lbs. The original Embrace has a Z-shaped handle. The new Embrace 35 has a standard round handle. The new Embrace 35 carrier is not compatible with the original Embrace base although the two bases look similar. However, the new 35 base is back-compatible with the original Embrace carseat (but still only to 22 lbs). As a visual reference point – the original Embrace base has a window where you can see the number 1, 2 or 3 (indicating the recline setting). The new Embrace 35 base lacks that window with the numbers. Extra Embrace 35 bases can be purchased for under $50.

The pattern I have is called “Breakout”. The neutral grey pattern with green piping has a stylish modern appeal and looks like it should hold up well over time with proper care and cleaning.  This particular fashion comes with a head support insert. Additional fashions are available on Embrace 35 travel systems and on the Embrace Deluxe model.

Britax Box Bonanza (Advocate 70 G3 Preview and Accessory Unboxing)

Today it’s a double bonus for your viewing enjoyment!  We will have a Britax Advocate 70 G3 review coming soon to CarseatBlog.com, along with a number of other reviews we’ve promised and we really are working on them!

Today’s unboxing includes new Britax Advocate 70 G3 along with the Britax Vehicle Seat Protector and Infant Head and Body Support Pillow.  The new G3 series of convertible seats will be available within a month or so, while the accessories are available now.  Key changes to the G3 model are the EZ-Buckle system that keeps the buckle forward so you don’t have to dig it out from under your child all the time.  In addition, the new HUGS system with SafeCell technology offers improved crash performance.  Current Britax owners will notice that the HUGS pads no longer float like they did before, as they are tethered to the seat.  That means that you can no longer pull on the HUGS pads to loosen the straps.  Instead, you have to make sure to pull on the straps themselves to loosen them.  These updates also apply to the other G3 models, including the Marathon 70 G3, the Boulevard 70 G3 and the Pavillion 70 G3 (the updated version of the Boulevard 70 CS).

Here’s a shot with Jon in the Advocate 70 G3.  You can see he has reached the harness height limit of the seat (I’m so sad he’s now outgrowing convertibles!).  His shoulders are barely able to fit inside the shell and are almost up to the head wings as well.  Granted, he just turned 7 years old last month and was around the 75th percentile for height and weight at nearly 57 pounds and 52″ tall.  So, I expect most kids will fit until they are at least 6 years old and some well beyond that.

From Britax USA: http://www.britaxusa.com/car-seats/advocate-70-g3

The SnoozeShade Infant Seat Cover Review

Man, my kids are simply too old! Sometimes I think I shut down the ol’ babymaking factory too early, because there are new products that come out all the time that I want to test with my *own* kids. The SnoozeShade cover is one of them. I remember back in the day when I would go on long walks with first my ds, then both my ds and dd, and the sun would beat down on them in the stroller. I would rig up these elaborate blanket covers with clothespins that half the time would get blown off in the wind. I tried attaching the clip-on umbrellas, which would promptly snap off—useless, cheaply made things. So then I’d have to coat my kids in nasty, greasy, goopy sunscreen which we all hated and got in all our eyes.

Enter the SnoozeShade. The model I’m reviewing is for an infant seat, but there are stroller versions, which I would have gladly bought if it had been available 10 years ago.




  • Mesh material means breathability and comfort for kids
  • SPF 50 for safety in the sun
  • Dark material for easy napping
  • Easy shower cap slip-on style doesn’t interfere with harness
  • Around $29.99 for the infant seat version


  • Child is covered up! Easy to forget to re-fasten harness if you unbuckle, so always leave harness buckled when child is in carseat.


When you are out and about and want your child to sleep, sometimes you need a dark place and the SnoozeShade Infant Seat Cover is here to help. Both my kids required darkness to sleep, despite my disastrous attempts to sleep train them so they could sleep *anywhere* (yeah, don’t you love righteous parents who tell you that you should train your kids to sleep under bright lights with loud sounds around?). The SPF factor is great for parents who live in sunny climates or who are out in the sun frequently, and the slip-on style means it doesn’t interfere with the safety of the harness.