Friday, July 30, 2010

What to Wear to Kindergarten

Dressing the girls is one of my favorite parts of the job. It's both a necessity and an indulgence, and I am lucky enough to have girls who, for the most part, don't care. Which means, yes, I am still picking out what my 5-year-old wears each day. And I love it. Not that we are little fashion plates all the time. We play hard and that means play clothes - washable, inexpensive, disposable if it comes to that. And true, not always matching. The orange-staining sand alone at Hazel's preschool the last two years has played an inhibiting role in what we buy and wear.

However. Hazel starts school next week. Real school. Kindergarten. With wood chips on the playground. And that is a new realm of wardrobe we haven't encountered before. She will need clothes that are versatile and comfortable but also look nice. Luckily, with the coming of school is the coming of fall catalogs in the mail and there have been some fine ones lately.

A word about priorities. Sometimes I look at someone else's children and I think, "What was that Mom thinking?" The kid probably looks cute. But there are 100 buttons up the back of that shirt! Or she is wearing glittery ballet flats and it's raining outside! Or is that sweater cashmere...and they're painting at school today? Whatever. I keep it to myself because different people have different priorities when it comes to clothes and fashion. Here are mine:

1. Comfortable - I don't like to be uncomfortable, and I don't want my kids to be. I don't sacrifice comfort for fashion, at least not in everyday wear. That means sweaters can't be scratchy. Waistbands can't pinch. And movement can't be too restricted.

2. Practical, Functional, and Quality - MUST be machine-washable. Must cover all important body parts, especially butt cracks. Must be able to move in it, and it can't have dangly sleeves or whatever else might get in a kid's way. And I have a problem with glitter, beads and sequins because they fall off during play and wash and then the piece looks bad, like it's falling apart.

3. Style and Design - We get a lot of functional pieces like plain leggings and t-shirts but for anything else it has to have a cool element: fabric, cut, drape, or some kind of detail that appeals to me. Now that we have three girls and I know clothes will be passed down for years, I am trying more and more not to settle on this point. I have to love it. It has to be interesting. It has to be worth the money we spend and the space it takes up.

4. Price - How much would I spend on it and does that match the price tag? I am trying to not get sucked in by clearance prices as much, and get dumb clothes just because they are cheap. There's a balance; it's hard to pass up a low price. But it has to pass the other filters as well. On the other hand, even the most perfect and beautiful piece is simply out of range if the price is too high. I have to always keep in mind the greater family budget, and the possibility that any piece of children's clothing could get ruined, so not to spend too much on any one thing, no matter how cute.

So here are a few things I've liked online and in catalogs. Don't be surprised if you see Hazel wearing some of these this year. Not all of them - the rest of us have to eat this fall - but some nice things for kindergarten, and that can be passed down if they survive, are called for.



Something I've noticed this year is the emergence of jeans leggings (Old Navy has even calls them "jeggings") and knit jeans. This trend solves a monumental problem for us, which is that my girls think jeans are uncomfortable. Hazel has a round waist; jeans pinch her when she sits and slide down when she stands. Ginger thinks denim is a "hard" fabric and doesn't like how it feels. These "jeggings" from Old Navy and knit skinny jeans from Tea Collection below might be a fashionable answer for us and would look awesome with tunics, dresses or long sweaters like the purple one below from Gap Kids.

DRESSES We have chosen this little Hanna Andersson number in pink for Hazel's first-day-of-school outfit...if it comes in time:

Metallic is so cute but honestly impractical because when it scuffs, like in the first two seconds of wear, it's scuffed for good. Which is why I am picturing these here but probably not getting them.

Photos from: Mini Boden, Tea Collection, Old Navy, GapKids, Hanna Andersson, Olive Juice Kids and Zappos.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Three Months

I'm not sure which day it happened, but at some point Poppy stopped being a newborn and became a bigger baby. I think it was while we were sleeping. Maybe it was when she moved to size 1 diapers. Not sure. I knew it was going to happen so I watched for it closely. But it has still surprised me. I seem to think if I keep kissing her all over she will not grow so fast. With my first baby I was so excited for every new development and next thing. Now I am in no rush. But that doesn't seem to stop it from happening.

Having successfully completed the "fourth trimester," Poppy is a new baby in many ways. You probably can't tell, but her hair actually is growing in. It's kind of a light neutral color so it will likely be blonde. There is some reddish-gold in the sunlight, but that's also my wishful hoping. She's consistently sleeping 6, usually 7, occasionally 8 hours at a stretch, waking once to eat sometime between 2 and 4 am. Which is fine if I go to bed by 10 or so, but when I stay up until midnight I'm hating it and it's my own fault.

She's a superstar eater. And she has entered the adorable cooing stage. When she's done eating she likes to lay there on the Boppy and have an earnest conversation with me. There is much vocalizing, smiling, facial expressing and sometimes giggling (my favorite.) I love connecting with her when we look straight in each others' eyes and coo at each other. She seems especially tickled when I imitate the sounds she makes. Speaking of tickled, she is ticklish! It's so dang fun to find her spots - so far, the collar bone and somewhere around where her left leg connects to her pelvis.

Her neck strength is phenomenal. She rolled over a few times at her 2-month doctor's appointment, but not quite since then. If I put her down on her tummy she immediately tilts to the right and traps her right arm under her, laying on her shoulder. While her arm turns red and then purple, she frantically kicks her left leg, trying to get leverage. If I give her foot or knee just a little nudge she rolls right over and smiles, probably from relief that her arm is receiving blood again.
And we are so happy to be in the Bumbo stage! If I lay her in a bouncy seat she strains and strains her neck and head forward, trying to sit up. Work those abs! But the Bumbo is perfect for her; we always put her where the action is and she is happy to supervise while intently stuffing both fists in her mouth and sucking loudly. Occasionally she scratches her mouth and screams bloody murder like it's my fault. It's always Mom's fault.
And the cutie baby fat rolls have arrived! They are everywhere and I love to count them on her arm when she eats (even though it's always the same - two on the upper arm, two on the lower.) There are some clothes she has outgrown not in length nor girth, but in arm size. And they are on her legs, too. Once during a diaper change I was squeezing some of her rolls as Hazel watched. I said something about her cutie fat rolls. The next time I changed her, Hazel asked if I was going to squeeze her biscuits again. "What? What biscuits?" Took me a minute to follow the semantic processes of a 5-year-old with blossoming vocabulary. Rolls, biscuits. Cute.

Poppy loves being worn in the Bjorn on Ed but continues to resist being worn by me, despite my best efforts. I've tried several slings, the Bjorn, a backpack, and pouches. I even went to a local babywearers' meeting to try all the wraps, slings and ties I could, but she just cried. She loves me to hold her but lodges complaints when I try to strap her on in any way. Hopefully, hopefully, it will come in time.

She adores her older sisters and is never happier than when she can watch them and their antics. They like to make up songs and dances for her, but despite three months of reminding, warning and threatening by me, their favorite is to invade her personal space until she cries. Still working on that. All this time I've been thinking, won't it be great and easy in the fall when both girls are in school (Ginger 3 days) and it will be just me and Poppy some days? On second thought, not if she misses her sisters and wants to be with them! We'll see how it works out.
Overall, Poppy is pink, fat and generally happy. Like mother, like daughter.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Francie Pants

Dilemma: The girls have long outgrown sizes that pair bloomers with a dress. Occasionally we find a skirt with built-in shorts but for the most part it's just their roos under there. It's too freaking hot for tights and leggings, and shorts can get bulky. So that leaves us wearing dresses and skirts as little as possible, pretty much just for church and then we spend the whole time telling them, "Put your legs down. Stop showing your panties. Fix your skirt." Sigh.

Solution: Francie Pants. Thin, slippy and stretchy shorts in super cute prints that go over underwear and under skirts. You know, just in case she has the sudden urge to do a cartwheel. Or has to sit criss-cross applesauce for circle time. Or insists on flopping around during church, dagnabbit.The name makes me giggle because it comes from the rhyme, "I see London, I see France." You know the one. No one's gonna see their underpants now! When ours arrived and we tried them on, Ginger and Hazel said such things as, "Ooh, they're so soft!" and "I want to wear these ALL day, EVERY day!" Nice.

AND, as if they are not cute as a button already, each pair comes with its own "collector's paper doll" (one of the 5 "Francies"), and you can print off paper doll clothes from their website.I discovered Francie Pants on this charming post from the irresistable Design Mom: What to Wear to 5th Grade (that Maude is so stylin' and has the best name EVER.) I ordered mine from a site I like called Mom4Life - they have a smaller selection than the Francie Pants site, but sometimes what I need in life is fewer choices. Plus they have free shipping and included a nice free peppermint lip balm with my order.

One dilemma solved. Check.

Friday, July 23, 2010


Wednesday, 1:33 pm. Poppy is sleeping in the stroller. The rest of us are huddled in the back corner of Bed, Bath and Beyond, sniffing Yankee candles. And we have sniffed quite a few.

I am fielding a lot of, "Mom, what's this one called? Mom, I want the cherry one! Mom, what's this?"

"A breakable votive holder. Put it back. Here, smell this one."

"What's it called?"

"Clean Cotton. What do you think?"

Sniff. "Fine."

"Really? I can't smell it, it doesn't smell like anything to me."

Pause. Thinking.

"Mooooom," (impatient sigh), "that's because it's CLEAN cotton!"

Guess which one we got.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Good Mom

Most days I feel like a "bad mom." You know. It's a hard, confusing, often frustrating job and it's easy to feel inadequate and definitely guilty. Comparing myself to other "good moms" is also a favorite pastime. So easy to see others' strengths against my own flaws.

But today we had a good day. We went to a new play place in the morning so it was kind of an adventure but not too stressful because we made our own schedule (and I didn't get lost driving through D.C. for once.) After lunch Poppy napped and I did some little art projects with the girls. Then Hazel watched a show and I actually had some one-on-one time with Ginger (gasp!) We did some puzzles and practiced writing some letters until she was done with me, not the other way around. We made waffles for dinner - simple prep, simple clean-up. After such a long nap, Poppy was in a good mood at bedtime so we were able to read some extra stories.

Once the older girls were in bed, Poppy kept me company doing the dishes and watering the plants. When she got fussy I changed her, swaddled her, and rocked her to sleep, listening to the sounds of a quiet house. No one is sick. No one had a major meltdown, potty accident or power struggle today. It was truly a good day.

I'm far from perfect. My house is pretty messy - still recovering from our trip. I have lots of things I need and want to get done. There are so many things I wish I was doing better. But as I rocked Poppy I thought, my kids are happy. I am happy. I was in the moment. I felt truly content.

I know it could change tomorrow. I'm enjoying this feeling so much because I have it so seldom. I just wanted to write it down.

Monday, July 19, 2010

We Went to Colorado

We went to Colorado to visit Grandma and Grandpa.
We went to Colorado and rode our first Ferris wheel.
We went to Colorado and blessed Poppy.
We went to Colorado and saw old friends.
We went to Colorado and showed Hazel where she was born.
We went to Colorado and climbed boulders. In Boulder.
We went to Colorado and got peaches at the Boulder farmers' market... ...and ice cream on Pearl Street.
We went to Colorado and played... ...and played... ...and played with cousins.
We went to Colorado and got French braids.
We went to Colorado and held a tarantula.
We went to Colorado and had some Daddy time.
We went to Colorado and rolled down the hill.
We went to Colorado for 10 of its 300 days a year of sunshine and big blue skies.
We went to Colorado and completely wore ourselves out. And I've got the sandal tan to prove it.
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