“Science says your kid will remember that first vacation, so make it count.”

Good to know.  

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Cadillac CTS Review

img_8702.jpgI recently had the pleasure of test-driving a 2017 Cadillac CTS.  The CTS-V sitting in the showroom was tempting (pictured above with those massive brakes and 600-something horsepower), but I knew I would feel much guiltier taking a car I had no intention of buying out for a spin with a salesperson in tow if it was a $100k, 2000 made per year car as opposed to a $50k car.

 

 

IMG_8596.2Our salesperson was an older gentleman, over 70.  I want to say 81, but now that I think about it, that seems kind of extreme.  This was just something he did while “retired” though, so 81 might be correct.  Super pleasant and very knowledgeable about the car.

The car had some very cool bells and whistles that I hadn’t seen before.  The entire center console was touch sensitive — volume was controlled by a touch slider, seat heating and cooling was a force touch button with haptic feedback — and it all lifted up on a hinge to reveal a small storage area.

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Another neat feature was the left part of my seat vibrating as a car entered into my blind spot (while I had it in reverse; I’m told it would do the same if I had my turn signal on in that direction).

All very cool features that I wouldn’t mind having on my next car, but that I could also do without.  Things have a tendency to go wrong in cars, and if a car has more things it has more things that can go wrong.  The first thing that flashed into my head was an image of the center console stuck in the up position for whatever reason (probably because the salesperson struggled to get it to close because he was hitting the wrong touch sensitive spot).  Also annoying would be if it was stuck in the down position — all of a sudden whatever you have stowed away behind there might as well be in Fort Knox.

But, you have to strike a balance and take some bad with the good.  Both of our cars have push button start with “keyless” entry, and I’d opt for that feature every time, even though the key fob battery life is shorter and I occasionally have issues when I have multiple sets of keys in my pocket.

Back to the car — this car was comfortable.  The 2.0 turbo puts out about 270hp or so.  There was considerable turbo lag when mashing at low RPMs it while the trans was in a high gear (I expected the trans to shift but it didn’t), so I suspect it’s a traditional turbo and not a twin-scroll or variable geometry or anything fancy like that.  I briefly switched the drive mode into Sport and the trans into manual, and the shifts themselves were quick and crisp, with downshifts being accompanied by a nice blip of the revs.  The response time (time between me pushing the paddle and the car shifting gears) was not so quick nor crisp — I’d guesstimate half a second.  I don’t know if that’s considered quick or not these days, but it felt like I was waiting around.

All of the switch gear and interior materials felt top-notch.  The interior smelled nice.  All makes seem to have a different new car smell, and this car smelled decidedly upscale.  Nothing offensive, but wafts of high quality leather.  The gauges were clear with a large LCD screen between two mechanical gauges.  The center caps on the needles looked machined which I liked quite a bit.

My wife and kid were loving it in the back.

As a family sedan, I give this car a two thumbs up.  Comfortable, quiet, smooth.  I guess it’s exactly what you’d expect a Cadillac to be, but modern with a fairly tight suspension and a solid powertrain.

2017 Escalade interior
CTS interior

Toddler YouTube Storytime: “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt”

“We’re Going on a Bear Hunt” by Michael Rosen

Best Gymnastics Classes in Orange County

Wildfire Gymnastics (Tustin and Lake Forest, CA)

The gym itself is huge and has tons of awesome equipment, that even the parents would love to jump around on.  The long trampoline, the foam pit, the regular trampoline, etc. really make this place one of a kind.  The teacher for the Parent and Me class in the evenings is engaging and so sweet.  The facilities are somewhat distracting for our toddler, with so many other students of all levels running around, in what is very organized, but also makes it hard for our toddler to resist not running off.

We’ve been to a 4 year old’s birthday party there though and it was great.  They have teachers who lead the kids in different activities interspersed with some free time for them to run around.  They are careful not to let any accidents happen.  Upstairs, they had the tables set up for the pizza, cake, and presents.  The kids looked like they had a lot of fun.

Monkey Business (Lake Forest, CA)

Miss Lynne is an excellent gymnastics coach, especially for the little ones with shorter attention spans and maybe a loose idea of queues, following directions, and going with the flow.  She gives the parents guidance and makes structured obstacle courses that teach the kids balance and practices their physical movement skills, but also emphasizes manners and the rules of society, like waiting their turns, moving in the same flow of traffic, and saying please and thank you’s.  It’s a much calmer environment than Wildfire with only one age group or class at a time, and Miss Lynne is very conscious of protecting their heads and necks from getting injured when doing different moves, like somersaults and cartwheels.  We took a tumbling tots class through the community center at Irvine Heritage Park and it definitely wasn’t the same thing.  The teacher was more rough and less concerned with protecting their little necks when they were tumbling.  It was a bit disconcerting.  Anyway, we love Miss Lynne.  There is very low turnover, which is unusual for kids classes, I’ve found, and it’s been great to see the same kids in her class get bigger and have those familiar faces around.

Cal Elite Kids

We only went to an open gym (from 12 to 1 pm, if I remember correctly), and got to peek around and try some of the equipment.  It was okay.  It was too far for us coming from the Irvine area, and the area wasn’t as nice.  It was surrounded by auto repair shops and whatnot.  I felt that, after looking at the pics and reviews online, that it would be a lot nicer than what I saw when we were there, that it was a bit of a disappointment after being to Wildfire, Monkey Business, or Waterworks Aquatics.  I don’t think we will be going there, but it might still be worth checking out if you live close to Rancho Santa Margharita.

TIL Pritzker Architecture Prize is Architecture’s Most Acclaimed Honor

Condos designed by Pritzker Prize winners sell for 44% higher (price/square foot) than those in their respective neighborhoods, and 47.5% higher than the Manhattan market average.

I.M. Pei, who was chosen as the 1983 Laureate of the Pritzker Architecture Prize, turned 100 years old today.

[Photo credit to Alexey Sergeev]

Latest Sunscreen Haul: It’s My Addiction

Arsenal

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That is all.

Best Baby Wrap and Carrier

Like sunscreen and strollers, I became obsessed with finding the best and most comfortable baby wrap and carrier when baby girl was younger.  I tried the original ergo carrier and found it to be uncomfortable and too much material for it to be breathable or cool for the baby.

This was when eBay was our best friend.  We sold that carrier and after much research purchased a Lillebaby carrier.  It had a mesh material that would hopefully keep baby and mom cool in the stifling heat, and an ergonomic shoulder/back strap.  This carrier, however, was as uncomfortable as the original ergo.  The torso length was far too long and the ergonomic strap was pretty pointless and silly-looking with my outfits.  It was also difficult to carry baby for long periods of time as she got heavier and the mesh material felt rough and scratchy against baby girl’s skin.  In paparazzi photos though, Liam Helmsworth and Ryan Reynolds were both seen wearing a Lillebaby.  I think if you have a similar body frame as those guys, it might be more comfortable, than on someone as short (5’4″) as myself.  It is designed by a Scandinavian company, isn’t it?

Anyway, after much persuasion and arm-twisting on my part, we then sold the Lillebaby and got the ergo 360.  Although this was an improvement on the original ergo and the Lillebaby, it didn’t take more than 40 minutes before my hips, shoulders, and back would start aching.  If baby girl finally fell asleep when I wore it around the house, and I wanted to put her down to bed, I’d leave the room and then undo the giant Velcro waist strap as to not wake her.  The Velcro strap was pretty annoying too because you couldn’t make minor adjustments easily once you had the baby in the carrier.  This is a a major dealbreaker.  I am able to change the waist and shoulder straps throughout the time that I am wearing my toddler now with my Tula.   How tight or loose we want the straps changes depending on if she’s sleepy, how long I’ve been carrying her, and the activity.

In the end, I found two amazing carriers, one of which I still use to carry my 30 pound 2.5 year old toddler for more than an hour at a time, with hardly any discomfort:

Baby Tula Ergonomic Carrier – Urbanista – Baby:  I have no idea how, but all of the slight differences in various carriers, make a huge difference on your pain and stamina when wearing them.  I found the Tula carrier, after poring over countless blogs and forums about babywearing.  This carrier is the only one you will ever need to buy.  Don’t waste your money on the other ones.  We got the toddler size on Amazon.  She was around 18-19 pounds when we got it, and I was debating whether or not to get one, since she was already much older (almost 13 months), was walking, etc..  I regret a lot of stuff that we purchased when we had the baby, but this is not one of them.  I only wish I had gotten it from the beginning.  I am constantly using it.  Even now, when she is 2.5 years old, I bring it with me, when we take the train, go to the zoo, museum, on the plane, on vacation, etc..  I can easily carry her for an hour, without being uncomfortable or have any back, shoulder, or hip pain.  She weighs 30 pounds too and was a big baby from the start.  The Tula has so many cute designs too.

Solly Baby Wrap:  I follow them on Instagram and they honestly seem like really nice people and I love their story.  They are living the dream.  That’s reason enough to want to support their business.  However, their wrap is also pretty awesome.


I had a hard time picking one, especially when comparing it to the Moby wrap or the Boba, on Amazon, which have thousands of reviews, but I chose the Solly for a couple of reasons.

I read that the other ones are made of thicker material, and, in the dry heat of southern California, it’s important to pick one that is breathable and cool.  The Solly wrap is thinner, but stretchy.  They also focus on making ones with really cute colors and prints.  I also read that the Solly is much shorter in length, in comparison to the Moby, and that for more petite women, the Solly was much better suited.  We babysat one of my friend’s four month old a couple of months ago, and I was able to bust out my Solly wrap again, after not using it once our baby got much bigger, and it helped the baby fall asleep right away and kept him calm, despite being in a new environment.  I credit his unusually long naps that day to the Solly wrap.

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His mom had given me a clipboard to rigorously mark how long his naps were and details about his feedings.  She told me afterwards that his naps are usually much shorter, and was shocked to hear how long he had napped for that day.  When I dropped him off later that day, I lent her my wrap just in case.

It really is so freeing to be able to put your baby in a secure wrap, and to have your hands and arms free.  I couldn’t even get my own drink from the refrigerator pre-Wrap era.  I felt my independence come back that day my Solly wrap came in the mail.

Wearing a regular baby carrier is not as comfortable as a wrap in certain situations.  If you’re at home, doing housework, or walking around on the plane, you want to stay comfortable and as light as possible, and the Solly wrap is perfect for that.  I can thank my Solly wrap for not completely losing my sanity, when it became clear that the baby wanted to be held almost non-stop.

On vacation, I traveled with both the Solly and the Tula.  If the weather was more humid and sticky, I wanted to have the Solly and wear it instead of wearing a heavier carrier.  The Tula is great for when you want to put the baby down easily.  I recommend both brands though to all of my friends.