Everything you ever wanted to know about kid clothes



We found out Larkyn was a girl the week of Black Friday. Perfect excuse to drop everything and pray to the altar of Gymboree and Janie & Jack, right?
Her closet before she was born. These are just the "business smart" clothes...the play clothes and PJs were in a dresser.

Yeah.... I like to buy her clothes. And I have learned a lot in the last two years about buying, storing, cleaning, and reusing baby and kid clothes. I'd love to hear what you have to add to my favorite "hobby" (because let's face it, yoga and reading sure as hell aren't happening these days...)

Shopping:
  • Gymboree:  This is where I get most of her clothes (it is close and very convenient)
    • Fantastic quality
    • Love the collections concept, where I can buy several pieces from the same collection to mix and match all season long (Hello, "Blooming Nauticals")
    • One stop shop: you can get the outfit, shoes and accessories in one place
    • Gymbucks can save you a ton of money if you don't blow it all by earning them
    • A bit pricier than most places, but this mama only gets sale items (there is always a sale and we get coupons more often than we can use them)
    • You MUST try the semi-annual Big Red Balloon sale, where you can shop for out of season clothes starting at 1.99.

  • Once Upon a Child:
    • This is where I stock up on play clothes that she can wear on "daddy" days and to the park and I don't have to worry about stains.
    • You can find amazing steals, like our favorite Gap hoodie for 3.99!
    • It is very hit or miss. You have to search through some worn-looking items and go right before the weather changes and the good stuff is picked over.
This season's play clothes. The total was $42 for 11 items of excellent quality.
  • Target:
    • If you have a "juicier" kid like mine, a lot of the Circo stuff won't go over her head. 
    • The Cherokee line fits and wears well, and is usually prices $5-$10
    • I usually buy a size bigger in anything from there. It all shrinks!
    • Their socks are the BEST! Love that the sizing is printed on the bottom
Target is a great place for cheap swimsuits (but everyone else will have them). A fun Cherokee tee and jeggings, and my absolute favorite skirt from last summer (Circo).
  • Carter's:  Our go-to PJ supplier!
    • She pretty much lived in Carter's clothes for the first month because so many were gifted to us. Since then, we just stop in for PJs or if we have a gift card.
    • They are sensible, reasonably priced, and "sweet" clothes for children
    • Their sizing (to us) is consistently a little off. I buy a size up in tees because they are too tight and a size up in their bootylicious shorts. Footed PJs were always too long??
    • Great place for summer separates (tees, tanks and shorts) as they usually have a $5 table with cute options
    • Their coupons drive me crazy though, because you have to spend a minimum $40! (Gymboree has no minimum).
Carters: Providing excruciatingly cute pajamas since Day One.
  • Trader Tots:
    • This is local to Columbus and close to home
    • Carries high-quality secondhand clothes
    • I've found some beautiful dresses and sweaters from Janie & Jack and Gymboree here
    • Like any secondhand store, it is also hit or miss (last summer was a HIT)
    • This is a higher price point than Once Upon a Child, and sometimes I think I might be better off just getting the new stuff!
  • Honorable mentions...
    • Nordstrom (Boden) is a RARE but delicious treat
    • Gap Our only Gap clothes are gifts, from Once Upon a Child, or from a gift card. They are amazing quality and would probably fill her closet if money were no object.
    • Old Navy is where Aunt Kate gets adorable outfits for the kids in her life. She is a savvy online shopper who knows how to work some ON magic!
THE bathing suit of 2012 (Gap from Kate), whale 2 piece outfit from Mini Boden, and a favorite bold patterned thermal bodysuit from Old Navy (boots from Gymboree)
So, what to pick?
  • In the beginning, as evidenced in the closet photo above, I bought a lot of dressier mini-me clothes. It was fine to rock the gold gladiators and white lace dress when she wasn't mobile, but after they walk, they won't get worn.  Save most of the wardrobe budget for play clothes, which will get worn much more often.
  • Dresses! They are easy to slip on and they last forever. I can pull out last year's dresses and they will be fine this year. And when they eventually get too short, they can become a tunic with biker shorts. 
  • Mix and match. Most of us ladies already do this, but before I grab something, I make sure I have something at home that will match it. That Target skirt was great because it could go with any color shirt.
  • Sizing: Moving into 2Ts is a whole new ball game. Now they can wear the clothes for an entire year. So, if your kiddo is nearing his or her 2nd birthday, put the 24 m clothes back and go for the 2T. You can always roll the sleeves or cuff the pants for a few months AND they can wear it a year from now (yay!)
Definitely pulling all these cuties back out this summer. Left and top right from Once Upon a Child, bottom right from Gymboree

And now that you've got the clothes, here's some (more) advice...
  • KEEP YOUR RECEIPT. I have a dresser drawer dedicated to this. Otherwise, they will give you the price in the computer, which could leave you with pennies for something you want to return.
  • Keep the tags on until you put the item on and it FITS. More often than I'd like to admit, we near the end of the season and she hasn't worn some of her clothes. With the tags on, I can return them, exchange them, or get a lot more for them at a secondhand store with the tags on. 
Laundry...
  • This is where my mom should write a guest post because I am absolutely terrible at it. There are a few things I've learned, but I have a long way to go in the stain-removal department.
  • NOTHING comes out of those terrycloth PJs. Just don't buy them.
  • Slap on the stain remover ASAP...as in take their shirt off on the spot and get er done. My mom was known for asking me for my shirt at the dinner table. 
  • If you don't have a dryer with a Low heat setting, buy a new one. Line-drying makes them mildewy (in my experience) and the regular temp shrinks them.  
  • Wash shirts that have embellishments (anything other than solid) inside out. That will keep little fuzzies from attaching to the cute designs or glitter from falling off...tragic)
 Storage:
  • 56 qt. clear containers work magic. When they are all the same size, they stack nicely and you can see what is inside. I just add a label to tell what size it is, and to the basement it goes!
  • These tubs go on sale right after Christmas for about 50% less than usual because they have red or green lids. 
  • Even if they aren't "dirty", wash the clothes one last time before you pack them away. Otherwise, you open the tub and it smells like a locker room.
I get a little sad when I pack away each season of my baby's clothes. They are starting to take up more room in the closet and are touching the shelf below. By learning some of the lessons above, I'm not packing away as many unworn or impractical outfits and feeling sad that I only got to see her wear them once. I swear, sometimes I take photos of her just because I can't stand for the outfit to be seen only once (ie: the Boden whale outfit to the aquarium of course).

Hopefully some of these tips will help you build and maintain your little one's wardrobe. Since now you will have no money left for your own. Next up, shoes!

{Linking up with Kristin at Busy Bee}

Currently...

I'm drinking a life-saving magical plastic cup of joy.
Fact: 1.99 of vanilla iced coffee turns the whole day around.
I'm wearing my new favorite outfit from my Target birthday spree. I have never received so many compliments on something so inexpensive (29.99!) or so low maintenance. Technically, it is easier to put on than pajamas, so of course I grab it every chance I get. Guess what I'm buying more of this summer!?

I'm proud of my kiddo for being a trooper at her 2 year old doctor visit. During her finger stick (lead test), she winced, then peered around the nurse's hand to watch her collect the blood sample into the tube. Things disintegrated 3 shots later, when I actually teared up at her crying. I know it hurts:o( Which is how we ended up at McDonald's with the promise of nuggets and anything she wants.

I'm wondering if I should get one of these? If one happened to show up for Mother's Day, I wouldn't be mad or anything...
shop here
I'm amazed that people ignore the sign I put on our door, asking them not to knock or ring the doorbell because of the "sleeping baby and barking dogs". Then they apologize when I open the door and all hell breaks loose. Really?

I'm ready to give the dogs away to anyone who wants them. One masterfully opened the diaper "champ" and pulled out 2 choice diapers to massacre all over the carpet while I was in the shower, and the other one created Lake Urine on our hardwood. Pull it together, please!

I'm excited to take Larkyn to her first birthday party this afternoon. Hope 5 year old boys like Target gift cards.

Birthday Thursday: 2 years!

I know I already recapped the party, but shall we check up on our little birthday girl and her antics?


New words you are saying:  Finally, you are putting words together to make demands and observations. You are especially into emergency vehicles (" See amblance!") and I LOVE when you are looking for me ("Mommmmmy?"). It is the cutest thing I hear all day.

New skills you like to show off:  Climbing up into your high chair, using your step stool in the bathroom to turn on the water and make a mess in the sink, "helping" mommy cook, and now remembering songs and singing them to us. They are hilarious...especially Fallout Boy's "Light 'em up".

New ways you are a stinker:  When it comes to snacks, your patience is non-existent. And God forbid mommy gets out the wrong cereal.

New things you adore:  SWINGING! That is all you want to do. You love to take walks to the park, you are starting to do a little pretend play with your kitchen foods and with your baby (rather than just playing with them, you know they have purposes and try to mimic real life).

My baby is 2.


I am dying to show you pictures of her party from this morning. But first, let's have a little mom moment to think about what this day is really about. As much as I absolutely loved planning and putting together her party (I used 2 of my 3 personal days this year to do so), it is really about celebrating another year we got to spend with Larkyn. Two years ago today, this is what was happening...
photo by Kate on 4.21.11
And now, our little monkey is running, jumping, telling us what she wants, and saying "Yuh-you" before she goes to bed. Being the active kid that she is, I knew the best gift we could give her was to take her to her favorite place with all her favorite people! 

I reserved Lattes & Lollipops a few months ago. I decided on a morning (10:30) party because of our noonish nap time and the fact that we are a breakfast-lovin' family. I originally wanted to do a pancakes party because pancakes are her fave, but pancakes are not as easy to transport as donuts. So, the Donuts & PJs party was born.
I ordered a printable party pack from Three Little Monkeys, which made it so easy for me to coordinate all the paper goods!


And now for my favorite part...the food! Of course, we would be doing donuts, and if you live in Columbus, you know the ONLY place for donuts is Der Dutchman. It is a bit of a drive, but so worth its Amish goodness!  I made store-brand double chocolate mini muffins, which turned out great. A good option for little hands.

It was a no-brainer to use donuts instead of a cake. And because they had sprinkles (Larkyn's favorite food), she was 100 times more excited about it. Those were Kroger donuts, special ordered by Nana to have pink icing and sprinkles, of course. Kate helped string together the little cake bunting that was part of my digital download.


The milk jugs and yogurt parfaits were my favorite part.  My only "splurge" on party supplies were these milk jugs, which I ordered from Jennifer on Etsy. These were perfect because they were plastic, so the kiddos had no problem with them. She even drilled holes in them for me and I was able to pick matching straws from her store as well. I'll be honest, I really hoped there would be leftovers, and my dream came true when there was ONE chocolate milk left.  My weakness.

I got 9 oz. cups with lids from GFS (food supply store) and filled them with low fat vanilla yogurt, strawberries, blackberries (both were on a fantastic sale this week), and topped with granola. This is a cost-effective side dish that everyone loves. And I made them the night before!

I also had 2 casseroles: cheesy potatoes made by grandma and I made a sausage, egg and cheese casserole that is one of the best recipes EVER. Maybe I'll share that later this week:)  I am so glad I brought those because they were the first items to run out and it kept everyone from having a sugar meltdown.

We had a "hole" bunch of favors. Forgive me, I have had donut puns on the brain for months....
These glassine bags are in the wedding aisle at Michael's. I filled them with 3 Kroger donut holes each, and I was surprised how popular they were! Again, I think people love smaller bites of things.

Oh, my mom. Isn't she amazing?  I just wasn't finding what I wanted to give the kids for favors. So, she texted me a photo one night of a felt donut she just whipped up. No big deal. She attached them to these totes from Michaels.

Inside, the kids would find a Horizons organic milk box, a Whole Foods cereal bar, and the cutest, teeniest bubbles that were 3/1.00 at Walgreens.


For the adults, we used the Hershey kiss stickers included in my digital download. I wanted something with a hole in it (I know, I need to be cut off), so we stuck the stickers on white Lifesaver mints.

For the decorations, we didn't need much because Lisa at Lattes & Lollipops set me up with adorable pink and brown balloons and pink tablecloths. We hung a banner on the play room window, I put all of Larkyn's monthly pictures in unfinished frames from Hobby Lobby with some ribbon I can change out later, and we set out some 8x10s from her 2 year old session. It is hard to see, but there is a little sign asking guests to sign the book If you give a dog a donut. I think I'll make that a yearly tradition.

And what did the kids do while we ate and caught up and squished the 2 itty bitty babies who came?
Dress up, slides, and bouncy houses! The room is staffed for parties, but some mommies needed to stay with their little ones (L&L is not open to the public during parties).

And to wrap it up, time for Happy Birthday and candles...

 I was hoping she wouldn't cry. She just looked at us like we were crazy like she did last year.
 There's that smile.

That's what daddies are for!  Looks like her wish for more donuts came true.

I have a bunch more pictures of her special day and can't wait to write about all the adorable gifts she received in case you find yourself in the market for the perfect 2 year old girl present. I so appreciate all of the help I received from Kate and my mom, because without them, this working mama couldn't have put it together without losing her mind. And I love Larkyn's guests (big and small) for attending her special day. We love you, sweet girl!

Magic words


My career is to shape little humans into compassionate, patient, and polite problem-solvers. Yeah, there's reading and math and science AND social studies too, but those are not my main concern in kindergarten.

You know how irritating it is to let another driver pull out and then not receive the "courtesy wave" from them? It is typically met with "You're welcome, jackass" in my car. Well, I happen to believe that those people who hold back the courtesy wave missed out on all there is to learn in kindergarten. Same with people who don't hold the door. I hate that.

Little gestures, little words make a huge difference in my book. How do people make it to kindergarten, not to mention adulthood, without developing these habits?  Manners, courtesy...they show that you are professional and that you care about other people. Simple as that.

As I am raising a child, the least I can do is reinforce and model:
  • Please: The most basic form of asking instead of demanding. I will wait for you to say it.
  • Thank you: The most important form of showing that an act or a person is meaningful. She loves when I shower her with appreciation when she helps put away the dishes :)
  • Sorry: You made a mistake or had an accident. This seems to be the hardest. I don't care that you tore my book page or if you lost something. I am an easy forgiver...if you apologize.  It is hard to do sometimes but I know I feel better after I say it.
  • How was your____?  Day? Doctor's appointment?  I have friends who will remember every single appointment or special/upsetting event I mention and a mom who will email me just to ask how my day is. I wish I was better at remembering to ask this myself, so I strive to be like them!
  • Excuse me:  "Move", "watch it" or barging through= not OK. And yes, I encounter these alternative phrases on a daily basis.
  • Putting away what you get out: I think it's easy to see why this is important in a household and in a classroom. Larkyn needs a lot of help with this one, but I still make her do parts of it. Sorry mom...I understand now.
  • Help someone: So, you might not have been the one to spill the crayons or dump the blocks. But doesn't it make life easier to pick it up instead of step over it or leave it for someone else?
What other manners are important to you? 

Golden Grahams and Mom Guilt

I hoard information. I love facts, trivia, having an explanation, and providing an answer. I have my parents to thank for my childhood knowledge of Anwar Sadat and actually believing I was on-scene for the "Baby Jessica" coverage. Anyway...I should know better.

I know better than to feed my daughter what I have been feeding her. I voraciously read all the baby books, articles, and websites to be equipped for the safety of my kid. I feel good about the things that I've shielded her from so far:

1. BPA. You might be thinking "Well my parents didn't even know what BPA was and I turned out fine". That's because it didn't exist. It is in the lining of most canned foods, in many plastics, in receipts, and is nasty. Read about all the dangers here. I don't buy toys or plates/utensils/cups unless they say BPA-free. And she doesn't eat anything out of a can. It is bad for everyone, but the biggest health consequences have been noted in fetuses, infants, and children.

2. Sugary drinks: By her own choice, she is a milk and water girl. I haven't really offered her juice and don't plan to offer it.  I'm sure as she gets older, she will have juice here and there, but since even 100% fruit juice doesn't have fiber, it is really empty calories. No judgment if you give your kid juice!

3. Front-facing car seat: It drives me nuts that people are so rushed to move kids on to "big kid" things without any knowledge of the consequences. Does she feel inadequate because her parents left her rear-facing til she was 2? Now, in Matt's car and my mom's, we had to turn her a few weeks ago because she simply wouldn't fit anymore. In mine, I will just keep her rear-facing as long as I can.

So, I can feel good about a few things I have done for her that she can't decide for herself. However...

We have fallen off the nutritional wagon. I was doing my daily (OK, hourly) CNN.com check when I ran across this article.

Instant mom guilt. "Kids breakfast cereal" was number one. Guess what our favorite snack is?  Yep. We regularly eat about half of the things on the list. And it's not that I didn't know that we were eating these things and I was surprised. I will call it "nutritional creep".  It starts with 'Well, maybe she is getting bored of Cheerios, I will let her try something new".

The problem lies in reading the labels. I freaking made all of her baby food with only organic ingredients, and then somewhere between stopping purees and our hot dog-eating cereal lover, I stopped reading labels. And I want to kick myself for it. 
"poison" anyone?  I kid.

I know she can have cereal. I know I can let her have a hot dog every now and then. I do make sure that every lunch I serve has something from every food group BUT did I read the label on the crackers or choose organic strawberries and cheese? Nope.

The snacks are the biggest problem. We need to throw out and start over. She is a snacker and if that is where our problem is, I am going to make it my goal to fill the cabinets with healthier snacks.

We moms have a lot of balls in the air. I guess every now and then, it is time to examine which ones need more attention. Thoughts??


Oh how Spring Break has changed

Gone are the days of sharing hotel rooms with 4 girls and running around the beach hijacking those giant water bikes.

Even tough times have changed, it was a good one. The perfect mix of laziness + pure chaos.  Just the way I like it. There is way too much to tell and I'm already a week behind, so I'll keep it short on words. Maybe.
We began the week with cupcakes and Kate of course. Our Cupcakery in Dublin, serving up my favorite cupcakes in town. We will excuse this once their snotty reaction to my toddler's excited behavior. Happens again and Mama Bear comes out.
Making Easter eggs! I am sentimental about the old $2 Paas kit, so that is what we used. Still just as confused by this "copper" wire contraption. 3 seconds after these shots, it broke and she said "Happened?"

She really could have cared less about dyeing the eggs. It was all about the water painting and the magical clear crayon.
Besides having a terrible record for guessing the correct color bowl for each color tablet (the blue tablet turned pink, the yellow was orange, the pink was orange!?) and using scalding hot eggs that don't take color, they turned out pretty great!
Time for 2 year old pictures!  In an effort to save a little money and have immediate gratification, we went with Portrait Innovations this time. It might have been the most stressful hour of my life. Except for this one time. Anyway, the pictures we came home with were adorable, but we will definitely go back to the kid-whispering Heather's peaceful studio next time.

Ann and Heidi gave me a gift certificate to bare s.k.i.n. day spa, where I got a fabulous massage and airbrush tan for our big weekend. If you ever need a local gift for anyone, this is it! 



Boo for dead camera batteries and no time for makeup!!  Doesn't she look excited to be at the Grandview egg hunt? Just kidding, she hated every minute of it until she could swing. The man who did the countdown said "let's add some suspense and count down from 10!" I about crashed the whole thing by asking "Can my screaming child please just go swing? We won't even take any eggs"...
As soon as they said "Go!", she was off and running....past all the eggs and to the playground. My mom picked up 2 things so she would have something. No more playground egg hunts for us. 


That night was Matt's brother's wedding. Again, phone pictures are blah, but you get the gist. It gave us a chance to dress up and see old friends. And it gave Larkyn the chance to show her dancing skills on the patio. Doesn't the bride look amazing?
After the wedding, Larkyn had her first overnight with Nana & Paw Paw! Thank goodness for grandparents. They brought her home on Easter morning for another egg hunt and her 3 Easter baskets from everyone. I only put in ONE candy item because I knew our house was about to be overrun with Reese's eggs and Cadburys. We love Easter candy 'round here. That's a flashing ring on the top that she likes to put right up to her nose. I see a theme. And the book? It was one of my favorites, given to me when I was two. My students love it and Larkyn picks it out every night. Old books are the best!
At this point, one would think I had had my fill of excitement during my 7 day break. Nope...
We left around noon on Easter to head up to Great Wolf Lodge. It is ridiculously overpriced, but I would take Larkyn back in a minute with a day pass (and stay at another hotel!) This was Matt's birthday getaway for his girls. He knows I love nothing more than a little travel! She slept the whole way up and fell in love with this tree slide.

I couldn't stand back and take pictures for long. With a toddler, this is definitely a two-person activity! Extracting her from the kiddie play area to go back to the room proved to be the downfall of the trip. But, she found some playground equipment of her own in the room. We went to Cracker Barrel for the birthday dinner of my freaking dreams: Sunday buttermilk oven fried chicken and hashbrown casserole. After a morning swim, we were on the road and headed back home!
It went too fast and got me thinking about how much I...well...love time off! Even the days spent running errands and cleaning the house. It was just what I needed.
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