August – 2012 – Frugal Novice
Monthly Archives

August 2012

Safety Features Abound With the Britax Pavilion 70-G3 {Giveaway!}

I’m pretty obsessed when it comes to my children, safety, and the car. When we recently traded our vehicle in for a minivan, I researched on crash test ratings for hours. And when it comes to car seats, we want nothing but the best and safest options.

Both of the boys have ridden in Britax Marathon seats since they outgrew their infant car seats, and we’ve loved them. We did a lot of research (shocker, right?) when it first came time to purchase J’s seat, and we knew from statistics and tons of parent reviews that Britax was the brand we wanted to go with. Oh, and as if we needed another reason to buy Britax, they now have a Registry Rewards program that lets parents earn a free convertible Britax car seat!

Now they’ve added another model to their line-up – the Pavilion 70-G3.

We got sent a Pavilion to review – C, our 3-year-old, was SO excited to get a new seat – and we continue to be impressed with Britax and their thoughtfulness in designing products. For one thing, their convertible car seats can be used for a LONG time – 5-40 pounds rear-facing, and up to 70 pounds forward-facing.

This means that you can use the seat right from the start (once baby E is born in September watch for a post showing you how the seat works for newborns too!) and all the way up until your child is ready for a booster. I personally am a huge fan of kids staying in a 5-point harness for as long as possible, so I love the high weight limit on their seats.

I’ve got to list all the features of the seat –  it’s an impressive list, and if you don’t know about Britax seats yet, you’ll quickly see why their seats are top-notch (I’ve added my thoughts to some of the features in bolded parenthesis):

  • HUGS Chest Pads with SafeCell Technology are affixed to the seat shell to ensure proper positioning while SafeCells compress to manage energy and provide resistance to the forward movement of your child in a crash, reducing the risk of head injury (If you watch the crash-test videos of kids in car seats, head injuries are by far the scariest aspect in my opinion. This added technology helps protect the most critical parts of our kiddos.)
  • EZ-Buckle System retains the harness buckle in a forward position and prevents the child from sitting on the buckle when boarding (Oh, how I love this feature. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve had to get the kids to pull the buckle out for us to be able to buckle them up. This makes it SO much easier!)
  • True Side Impact Protection is deep side walls with energy-absorbing EPP foam along with a head restraint which offers a double layer of EPP foam to distribute crash forces, shield from vehicle intrusion, and contain the head, neck and body while keeping them “in true” or aligned.


  • Base with SafeCell Technology features SafeCells designed to compress in a crash, significantly lowering the center of gravity and counteracting the forward rotation of the child seat which normally propels the child toward the front seat.


  • Integrated Steel Bars strengthen the connection to the vehicle and reduce forward flexing of the child seat during a crash (This is one of the first things we noticed about the seat, and it really is reassuring to see those strong steel bars protecting the sides of the seat).
  • Energy-Absorbing Versa-Tether features a staged-release tether webbing to slow the forward movement, reducing the crash forces reaching the child, and a two-point attachment to minimize forward rotation while anchoring the top of the child seat.

  • Click & Safe® Snug Harness Indicator is an audible aid that provides extra assurance when the harness is within range of appropriate snugness (This is SO useful, in part because we had our straps too loose for a while without realizing it!).

  • Tangle-Free, Five-Point Harness distributes crash forces across the strongest parts of the body and provides a secure fit.
  • 70-pound Weight Capacity for safety and comfort as your child grows.

  • Rear and Forward Facing Recline for child comfort and positioning.
  • High Density Comfort Foam provides an extra layer of padding to gently cushion your child.
  • Plush, Easy-Remove Cover with matching comfort pads and infant body pillow to provide extra comfort and easy cleaning without disassembling or uninstalling the child seat.
  • Two Buckle Positions for your growing child
  • Infant Positioning Insert may be necessary for small infants to achieve a snug fit of the harness around your child (sold separately).
  • Quick-Adjust, No-Rethread Harness repositions the harness shoulder height without disassembling the harness straps.

  • Premium Lower LATCH Connectors for a quick and simple installation featuring a push button for easy release.
  • Built-in Lock-Offs ensure a snug lap and shoulder belt installation with minimal effort
  • Anti-Slip, Contoured Base grips and protects the vehicle seat while offering optimum vehicle fit.
  • Harness Holders keep harness straps pulled to the sides when placing your child in the car seat.
  • Certified for Aircraft Travel
  • Made in the USA with global components

As you can see, this seat has it all! We also loved how easy it was to adjust the height of the seat by simply squeezing the handle at the top and pulling it up.

I’d give this seat 5-stars all around. It’s comfortable, easy to install, easy to adjust, great to look at, and most of all SAFE. As I said, we were already Britax fans but this seat just cements that even further.

The Pavilion 70-G3 retails for $339.99 and you can find it many places – online at retailers like Amazon, and in-store at Buy Buy Baby, Babies R Us and more. But guess what? You can also…

One winner will get a Britax Pavilion 70-G3 car seat (ARV $339.99)! This contest is open to all U.S. residents aged 18+. Entries will be accepted until the end of the day (midnight Central) Saturday, September 15. By entering this giveaway you agree to the Official Rules.

Note: We received a Britax Pavilion to facilitate our review. I was not compensated monetarily for this post. All opinions are honest and are my own.

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Nuby Makes Mealtime Fun!

If you’re the parent to preschool-aged kids, you know that meals can be a real battle. Our boys are 3 & 5, and while our 3-year-old eats pretty much anything, our 5-year-old is PICKY with a capital “P” (he totally gets it from me, I fully admit)! Anyway, it helps a lot to make meals more fun, and Nuby has done just that with their fun iMonster dishes. They can be used for kids as young as 18 months, but I’ll tell you – the boys debated over who’d get to use which dishes – they thought they were SO cool.

Can you tell C (our 3-year-old) loves this plate?

All of the iMonster dishes we reviewed are available at and at Burlington Coat Factory, in case you want to get some for your own little monster!

We also got to try out some feeding bowls (we use these great colorful plastic bowls for cereal – they can be found at, Amazon,, and Walmart) and sippy cups. Both of the boys are old enough to drink out of “big kid” cups and do at the dinner table. But when they’re wanting drinks throughout the day we still use sippy cups to keep spills at bay. The cups we received are both fun, easy to clean, and work well at not dripping.

The Sports Sipper on the left is available at Amazon & Walmart, and the insulated cup on the right can be found at, Kmart, Target, & Walmart.

What doyou do to make mealtime fun for your little one(s)?

Note: I am a Nuby Mom Blogger and received these products to facilitate our review. I was not compensated monetarily for this post. All opinions are honest and are my own.


Rut-Busting Tips

With all the running around we do, I’m always looking for ways to be more productive with my time – hopefully you’ll take some good tips away from this infographic!

This infographic is brought to you by Noomii, an online directory of business, life, and career coaches. You can find a life coach in Houston as well as thousands of other cities around the world.

Setting Up Our Nursery

Our house just has three bedrooms, and we’ve always had one of the bedrooms set up as a play room. When we found out we were expecting baby #3, we decided at the time that we wouldn’t set up a nursery. Both of the boys slept in a pack n’ play until they were 6-8 months old, and I’m sure it’ll be the same this time around too.

Of course, now that the nesting phase has hit me full force I have changed my mind and it now seems very crucial to have at least some space dedicated to baby E. Thankfully Brian is pretty laid-back and just went with it when I suggested we go ahead and get a crib. We’re going to make the play room partially a nursery, while still keeping some of the toy storage for the boys.

We put together a crib this weekend, although we still need to put in the mattress – I love this crib! It’s modern and light, and it even came with a bed rail to turn it into a toddler bed down the road – beautiful and practical!

I’ll post more photos as the project progresses – we’re doing letters for her name (thanks to my lovely sister-in-law Lauren for finding the idea for what we’re doing!) and I’m attempting to make a valance for the window (was going to make curtains, but don’t have enough of the fabric – whoops).

We’re also hoping to add a little bit of storage to the room, but I haven’t 100% decided what to do. I am leaning toward saving up for the changing table that matches the crib (it’s sooo pretty!) but I’ve also been scouring a variety of chest of drawers to see if there’s an option there that could work as a changing table & still provide the storage we want. Right now we’ve cleaned out a few drawers in our room for baby things, but that’s not going to work long-term.

I think the room will turn out really cute, and it’s fun having a reason to be crafty (seriously, can’t wait for you to see the letters once I finish)! Do you have any nursery ideas you just love that I should try? Share them in the comments!

Caboose Too Adds Even More Versatility to the Joovy Caboose Stroller

Since we’re about to have three kids, the Joovy Caboose Ultralight stroller was extremely appealing to us. We love the bench seat in the back that’s perfect for older kids to sit on when they need a rest, and it also has a foot rest so kids can stand too if they prefer.  Here you can see the boys trying out the stroller – the canopy covers both kids well at once.

I know from experience that traditional double strollers are HEAVY – the one we had when C was a baby weighed in at 40 pounds. The Joovy Caboose Ultralight weighs just 21 pounds, which makes it so much easier for loading and unloading in the car, and for maneuvering around.  And can we talk about the awesome colors? We picked the “Greenie” pictured above, but they also have Blueberry, Orangie, Brownie and Black.

The Caboose comes with a car seat adapter, allowing you to use it with most infant car seats and still have the added bonus of the bench seat.

Did you notice something in the photo with the car seat above? That’s right…. there’s not just the bench seat in the photo – now there’s an option to purchase a full-sized second seat – the Caboose Too! And we got the chance to try it out. This accessory converts your tandem Caboose to a full double stroller really quickly (it seriously only took me 5 minutes maybe to add the seat). It installs easily onto the existing rear platform and stroller frame, and it reclines and includes a 5-point harness, just like the front seat.  The Caboose Too seat offers additional support and comfort for children still too young to use the bench seat and the standing platform of the Caboose. This configuration offers the flexibility to use the seat until the older child reaches the point where they want to sit or stand on the back of the Caboose.

Since our baby isn’t due until September, we tried out the seat with our boys – J is almost 40 pounds and C is 35 pounds, so they can still use the stroller together (instructions suggest a maximum of 90 pounds of weight combined). C loved sitting in the seat and said he had plenty of room!

I also liked that it’s easy to see through from front to back (and vice versa). It was easy for J to turn around and talk to C, and C was able to get a good view of what was in front of us even with being in the back seat.

We are thoroughly impressed with the Caboose Ultralight and love the added value of having a second full seat with the Caboose Too. It’s a compact, sleek-looking stroller that’s lightweight, easy to maneuver, and versatile. Check out Joovy’s site to see all of the color options!

Note: We received a Joovy Caboose Ultralight and Caboose Too seat to facilitate this review. I was not compensated monetarily for this post. All opinions are honest and are my own.

Take a Sunny Stroll with Tiny Love {Giveaway}

I think most parents can relate to a situation in which you’re driving in the car, or are out running errands, and your baby starts to get fussy. For us, having toys to entertain the boys was essential for helping us survive outings successfully. But it’s not always easy to remember to bring toys along – unless, like the Sunny Stroll from Tiny Love, it attaches right to your infant carrier!

The Sunny Stroll, a ?exible feature-?lled arch that attaches to a stroller, has been an especially big hit with moms, including actress Selma Blair, who was pictured in US Magazine pushing her son’s stroller with the Sunny Stroll attached. The Tiny Princess Butter?y Stroll is the follow-up version to this innovative product, so you can have it in pink too!

I love this product – first of all, the flexible joints give you all sorts of options as to how to configure the toy, AND they make it really easy to make it compact when you’re not using it. But the best part is the clamps. You can easily attach them to almost any stroller or car seat, giving you ultimate versatility.

Both versions of the Sunny Stroll retail for $19.99, making this an affordable item to get for your child or as a gift for someone else!

Of course… you could also win one here. :)

One winner will get their choice of the Sunny Stroll in either the version I have, or the Tiny Princess version! This contest is open to all U.S. residents aged 18+. Entries will be accepted until the end of the day (midnight Central) Tuesday, August 21. By entering this giveaway you agree to the Official Rules.

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Wear Your Baby Easily Right from the Start with the ErgoBaby Bundle of Joy {Giveaway!}

When babies are first born, they’re near you virtually all of the time. When my first son was born, it was really easy to hold him all the time because there were no distractions around! When our second son was born, we quickly realized it was a different ball game. I needed to be able to attend to our older son AND hold C, which was sometimes pretty impossible. And now that our daughter’s due date is right around the corner, the importance of having a great carrier is pretty pressing!

I asked around in all my mom circles for which carrier I should get, and the resounding answer was almost always the Ergobaby. The Ergobaby carrier is designed to be as comfortable for you as it is for your baby. It distributes your baby’s weight evenly across your hips and shoulders so you can enjoy being close to your baby while having your hands free. It can be worn in the front, back or hip position, and supports babies up to 45 lbs., and infants 7-12 lbs. with the use of the Infant Insert. In the past you would purchase the carrier and the insert separately, but now Ergobaby has packaged the two together in the appropriately-named Bundle of Joy, available in four colors:

We got to review the set and went with the Galaxy Grey, although I would’ve been happy with any of the four – I like that they’re all nice and neutral.We apparently picked the “right” color, though – the boys love the stars on it.


My friend Amanda tried it out and modeled for a picture with her sweet daughter Rea:

And of course I took photos of all the features for you to see for yourself. I can definitely see why this carrier is rated as one of the best among moms! Here are some of the aspects I love:

• Padded straps. These are incredibly comfortable to wear.

• Zippered pouch on the front – perfect for keys, cell phone, or a few other essentials while you’re out.

• The Infant Insert – of course, this is the key factor of the Bundle of Joy set. I love the coordinating fabric and the fact that it’ll allow us to wear the baby and keep her cozy right from the start (7 lbs. +).

• Back and waist clips – it’s great to have both of these both for easier wear and for security.

• Built-in hood. Whether you’re shading your baby from the sun or from the wind, this is a great feature to have (and it tucks neatly away in a provided pocket when you’re not using it).

• Quality of fabrics. This is sturdy, yet soft, material – and the embroidered stars are really well-done! I love that they offer organic fabrics as well.

I know we will use our Ergobaby a ton and am already looking forward to having it for the cooler months! Would you love to have an Ergobaby? Well you can purchase their Bundle of Joy (or any of their other great products) here and you can enter to win one here and now!

One winner will get to pick their choice of Bundle of Joy sets! This contest is open to all U.S. residents aged 18+. Entries will be accepted until the end of the day (midnight Central) Monday, August 27. By entering this giveaway you agree to the Official Rules.

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Note: I received an Ergobaby Bundle of Joy to review and one is being provided for the giveaway. I was not compensated monetarily for this post. All opinions are honest and are my own.

Scott Shared Values Campaign – Great Way to Get Free Coupons & Rewards!

I love coupons and bargains, as anyone who knows me can tell you. And I love reward programs because I’m already making purchases anyway, so earning rewards for those purchases is like icing on the cake for me!

Scott is a brand we’ve purchased for years, and I’m thrilled that they’re working to give back to consumers with this program. It’s simple to sign up, and you get a coupon right away (which you can increase the value of by sharing it with friends – great, right?).

You can also earn some great prizes such as free amusement park tickets, 3 free Blockbuster Total Access rentals, Hertz Rental Car discounts and more.

There will also be NEW coupons on the website each month so you can save on Scott products every month! For example, when you sign up you get a 75 cent coupon that you can easily change into a $1.25  coupon.

I hope you’ll sign up for this great program – start saving $ and earning rewards today! Signing up seriously takes maybe a minute and it’s SO easy to get started.To make it even easier here’s a widget to sign up right here and now:

I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Scott. I received a promotional item as a thank-you for participating and am able to earn additional rewards throughout the campaign.