Archives For July 2013

It’s crazy how much these kids have grown and changed in just a year.

BrotherBacktoSchool

MacaroniBacktoSchool

StariBacktoSchool

Last year around this time I wrote this post on my old blog, Mom. Me. Three. It’s also the first post in my Style School series where I’ll talk about inexpensive ways to find kids clothes, and how to use fashion and personal style as a learning tool.

Back to school is a busy time for kids and parents. Everyone wants to go back to school looking and feeling their best. Whether you have one kid or four, like us, back to school shopping can add up.

In this edition of Style School, I’ll share some of my tips and tricks for stretching a wardrobe and your dollars. Class is in session!

Pick Pieces that Work Together & Style Them Up

Back to School

Much like I would do with my own wardrobe, I try to buy pieces that are flexible and that work together. Things like leggings can be worn both as pants and also with dresses, skirts and shorts. Belts, sweaters, scarves, and funky socks and shoes can be used to personalize an outfit.

The example I styled above from last year was about $133 retail and did not include the sales that were going on at the time which would have made it even cheaper.

From these pieces I can come up with at least seven ways a mini stylista could wear this stuff (that’s a week of cool duds!):

  1. Dress alone with sequins flats
  2. Dress with knee-high socks, sneakers & sweater
  3. Dress over green jeans, sneakers & hat
  4. Dress over jeggings, sweater & belt
  5. Dress under shirt, belt & sequins flats
  6. Polka-dot top, green jeans, sequins flats, belt & hat
  7. Polka-dot top, jeggings, tennis shoes, sweater
Purple Rock Star

If you’re too lazy to be your kid’s personal stylist, hate shopping, or don’t feel like you have a great sense of personal style some clothing lines make cheat sheets. While we may not want our kids to cheat in school, cheating in shopping is A-ok!

These sets are from the fashion forward and always cute Tea Collection. You can totally find similar looks for less on your own, but these are reasonable priced and damn cute. 

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If I was going to get something from Tea Collection, I’d go for their Great Wall 5-Piece Set for $128, or their Branch Blossom 6-Piece Set for $148 which has an Asian-inspired feel to it.
Boys are always a lot easier to shop for. You just need a few pairs of pants and can add different tops or vests and ties to make them a little funkier, so I’m not going to go too into deal for styling boys here, but will save that for a future post.
Back to School Sales!

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I’ve been getting emails in my in-box from all the children’s stores (Justice, Crazy 8, The Children’s Place, etc.) and major retailers like Target. There are always back to school sales.

My advice is to wait and not jump of the first sale you see unless it’s something unreal. Usually they’re offered several times.
Something else to consider is that many of the larger stores (Target, Old Navy, Burlington Coat Factory, etc.) will give you a coupon during back to school shopping that can be used after school has started.
If you can, don’t do all your shopping at once, and then come back with your coupon. Plus, most of the stuff is reduced even further once the back to school shopping rush has died down!
{Insider Tip: The return trip coupons often do not cover uniform stuff so read them carefully. Boo!}
Be Thrifty

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Use your children’s consignment and thrift stores! There are amazing deals and steals to be found. Before you turn your nose up at the idea of clothes previous worn and say “eww!” realize that there are good deals to be had and you can also find new clothes that have never been worn.

This is especially true the smaller the sizes when kids are going really quickly.

Find Your Sample Sales & Stock Up Before the Season

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Many places, such as Gymboree and Crazy 8, have sample sales that are not publicized. Call your favorite retailers to find out when and where these sales are.

Having been to one before, I can say it’s a little like the Cornucopia in The Hunger Games with everyone dashing for deals, but it’s worth it to pay $200 for $3000 worth of clothing. (Yes, I’ve actually done this!)

Call your favorite local shops as well and see if they have sample sales. A local children’s boutique in my area was having a $5 Tea Collection sample sale. Sample sales are good.
{Insider Tip: Be sure to check your sample sale items for flaws. Because they are samples, some may have imperfections. Don’t get so caught up in the frenzy that you forget to look for quality.}
You can buy things for your wee in a size or two up and wait for them to grow into them. The key with that is picking simple basic pieces that will still be in style for the next year or so.
Make Uniforms Fun
Macaroni’s starting a new school this year but last year she went to a parochial school with a very strict dress code.
The girls were only allowed wear a navy polo or white blouse, grey dress or skirt (in limited pre-selected styles), and navy sweaters.
To make it even more of a snooze (and pain in the rear for me) her shoes have to be all black or all white.
Tights needed be gray, navy, white or black, and socks should be the same colors.
To make uniforms fun when there are strict requirements you can use textured tights, or stripes, or polka-dots, shoes with glitter or shine. Take belts in approved colors and wear them over cardigan sweaters, dresses, and blazers.

When Stari went to school with a uniform requirement it was a lot more flexible.

The kids just had to wear white tops with navy bottoms (or dresses), and any shoes you want. Whether there is a strict or loose uniform requirement kids can still look fly and, most importantly, express their personal style.

So, there you have it. The key points to back to school shopping: buy versatile pieces, shop sales, find sample sales and buy ahead & take time to make uniforms special. Do you have any back to school shopping tips to share?

Class dismissed!

{**Note: Some items pictured above may not be veg*n (though most are). For my own children, I would try to buy veg*n, however I’m just showing examples of how to put pieces together.**}

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“Mommy just made this juice. It’s so good…”

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“Do you want some of my juice? I’ll get some out for you!”

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“Hmmm…. this is harder than I thought….”

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“Oh look my foot!”

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And the juice was good. The end.

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Brother was in a quinceanera last week. (Click the link for the low-down on what a quince is.)

He was so handsome in his tuxedo and looked more like how he’ll look when he’s fully a man and less like the little boy I’ve always known him to be.

It literally brought tears to my eyes; the realization that my baby is no longer a baby.

It seems like only yesterday that I was in a quinceanera just like Brother. I remember the whole thing in detail. I was only thirteen then and it was such a big deal because my high-school aged boyfriend and I had just broken up and he was still the caballero who was going to dance with me.

The typical teenage soap opera.

I remember learning the Waltz and trying on my dress.

Oh, how I loved those gloves!

We rode in a limo, just like Brother did for the quince that he was in. I remember standing out of the sunroof with Liana and yelling at people as the city lights rushed past us.

Man, life was so good.

Life is so good.

It’s funny how in being a parent allows you to have certain experiences again.

If Brother hadn’t been in a quince I’m not sure I would even have thought about it, or remembered that I saved the dress and have it tucked away somewhere. I knew at 13 that I wanted my daughter(s) to have that dress.

Because I felt so beautiful in it and that moment in time was so amazing.

And, life was just so good.

And, man life is just so good.

When I first discovered Macaroni’s food allergies I felt overwhelmed. It seemed like she was allergic to everything and that she would be doomed to a life of limited food choices. I mean, a life with no garlic crab?

Surely that would be a life of suffering.

This simply wasn’t true.

In a way, Macaroni’s food allergies and autoimmune issues have been a gift. I know it’s bizarre to look at her suffering as a gift, and it’s not the suffering that is a gift because that shit sucks. But, through healing her we’re all being healed and eating the way we should.

Even though I grew up eating well, I admit that at times I’ve been lazy and have opted for ease or cost over good, wholesome food.

Not all the time, but at times.

Her illness and allergies have forced me to reevaluate how I look at food as a whole, and how I feed our family. I am learning more about nutrition, vitamins, and homeopathic care. I’ve even decided that next year I will pursue certification in Nutrition Therapy.

We are all just a little healthier not only for her but because of her.

And for that I am truly thankful.

I felt it important to dedicate a section of this blog to sharing not only Macaroni’s story, but also her meals for anyone else who may have a child with similar issues.

So, what does a person who is allergic to all nuts, seafood, shellfish, soy and dairy, gluten and who is avoiding legumes, grains (sometimes we cheat on this one), and refined sugars, and anything artificial eat?

It looks a little something like this…

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Prosciutto egg cups and blueberries

Breakfast of chapms! Veggies and organic antibiotic free chicken sausage cooked in bone broth.

Breakfast of chapms! Veggies and organic antibiotic free chicken sausage cooked in bone broth.IMG_2316

Pastured eggs with organic chicken sausage, organic spinach, blueberries and sauerkraut.

Pastured eggs with organic chicken sausage, organic spinach, blueberries and sauerkraut.

Raw organic broccoli is the perfect snack when singing tunes with Justine Bieber.

Raw organic broccoli is the perfect snack when singing tunes with Justine Bieber.

Social event meltdown averted by bringing our own SeaSnax and Cliff Fruit Ropes for treats.

Social event meltdown averted by bringing our own SeaSnax and Cliff Fruit Ropes for treats.

Typical snack: SeaSnacks (the only seaweed that is free of corn, canola, or sesame oil), veggies & kombucha! Yum!

Typical snack: SeaSnacks (the only seaweed that is free of corn, canola, or sesame oil), veggies & kombucha! Yum!

 

 

I am a girly girl.

I love pastel colors and lip-gloss.

I am scared of bugs.

I don’t dig dirt, or sports unless you count shopping as a sport.

As a kid, I remember my dad forcing us to go camping. We hiked with hiking backpacks and I’m pretty sure we complained the entire way.

Well, except for when I was literally crying because my backpack was too heavy, it was too hot, and my knee hurt.

I remember being scared to sleep at night because there were bears there.

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And not cute bears like Paddington Bear or Winnie the Pooh, but real bears. Bears that are wild and free. Bears that might enjoy a snack of a little brown girl with blond hair, and her brother for dessert!

My dad gave us pans and told us to bang them if we heard a bear outside the tent. Because, you know, it’s reassuring to tell someone who is already worried they’re going to be eaten by a bear that a pot and pan is going to save them.

I’m not sure I slept at all that night.

The next day we saw bears. They were huge and brown and furry. (Shocking, right?) And they were peaceful and calm and just walking around.

They looked at us and kept on moving.

We didn’t bother them and they didn’t bother us.

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How cool is it to see a bear?

Well, it’s actually very cool.

With the warm weather and talks with friends I’ve suddenly decided that I want to take my kids camping. I want to make GAPS-legal s’mores and cook organic grass-fed beef hot dogs over a campfire while telling ghost stories (or just stories at least).

I want to walk with muddy shoes and swim or raft in lakes, hike through nature, and breathe clean air.

I want my kids to look up at the sky at night and realize that there are more stars than they can ever count.

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See, living in the city means that you can’t really see the stars. You see them but there aren’t that many.

But when you’re outside of the city, the sky is like a dark velvet cloth with sparkles all over it. So many stars that it would take two life times to wish on all of them.

Sure, it means I’ll have to deal with bugs and no so fun stuff, but the experience will be amazing.

Do you go camping? Do you have any tips for surviving a camping trip with small kids?