Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Trading Up

It seems I have traded in my running shoes for walking shoes.

Oh, they're still the same pair - green and white Asics I bought halfway through training for our marathon.  A few days before the race, I decided they were not broken in enough, and I made a wild last minute decision to run 26 miles in my bedraggled navy New Balance shoes.

The Asics are good and broken in now.  They've got tiny holes in the mesh at the bottom of my baby toe.  The stitching is coming undone near the top, and they aren't so much green and white now as they are green and gray.

Where are the days when I had time to schedule a three hour run?  Sometimes I wonder this.  Three unbroken hours for anything is a chapter in the imaginary book I keep called "If I Had Free Time and No One Depended on Me."

So I lace up the old Asaics and pull out the stroller.  We go walking in the morning, before the heat rises to its peak.  It's possible to beat the heat, but the humidity is an early bird, and by the end of our walk, Anna and I are both sweaty.  

As I walk, I look down at her chubby feet.  The farther we go, the farther down in her stroller she slouches.  Her legs swing over the edge, and she flexes her toes up and down.  Those chubby, short toes!  If she's getting bored with the trees and the wind and the birds, she pulls her left leg up to her ear and babbles like she's found a new friend.  Hey, it's my foot!


























On every walk, I think, "I wish I could preserve those sweet baby feet."  I know in ten years, when I might have the time and energy to take up running again, I will remember the chunky legs and pudgy bare feet of my first baby.   How her bare feet meant she wasn't yet walking, she was riding.  How she needed me to carry her when we collapsed the stroller and slid it back into the shed.   How she wanted me to carry her, how she snuggled her head into my shoulder, how she pulled at my shirt when she wanted to nurse, how for that short time, I was totally and completely her world.

Free time?  Don't have much of it.  But as it turns out, I would trade every infinite minute of it for two plump feet.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Dressing a Baby Girl on a Budget

In my dream world, I would buy all of Anna's clothing from Zara, Baby Gap, and Tea Collection.

Money is a moot issue in a dream world, right?

I love picking out Anna's clothes.  The fact that we don't live in a dream world, but instead, a world where we only have one full-time income, means that the process is creative and challenging. While I would love to exclusively dress my daughter in outfits that are spot on current trends, the budget - and, if I'm honest, my convictions about where our money goes - say nope.

Last week, Shannan shared her secondhand genius for girl shopping, which got me thinking about sharing Anna's fall/winter wardrobe.

I have a few guiding parameters when shopping for Anna.  One, I steer away from animals and cutesie sayings.  Two, I don't buy a ton of pink.  I'm not die-hard against pink, but neither am I a huge fan of lots of pink and ruffles.

My basic process is to start with garage sales and thrift stores.  During the summer, I look at the online classifieds to find garage sales that specifically advertise baby/toddler girls' clothes.  Anytime I'm at a thrift store, I take a few swipes through the baby racks.  Anything I find that is cute and cheap at these places comes home with me.

At this point in Anna's life, it works best to have her clothes paired into outfits.  So after I have an assortment of secondhand tops/pants, I pair them together and take notes on what I still need.  I still keep an eye out for those gaps at garage sales/thrift stores, but I also start looking on Ebay or ThreadUp.  (More on ThreadUp at the end.)

As far as retail shopping, I rarely buy anything new full price.  Mostly, I shop online, because we live in a small town where the extent of retail shopping is Wal-Mart.  I wait for end of season sales or 30-40% off coupons and sometimes the stars align, and websites offer free shipping on top of the coupon.

Are you ready to peek into her closet?








Pajamas 
Monkey pajamas: $0.50, garage sale
Carter's cotton footy pajamas: $1.00 each, garage sales
Carter's fleece footy pajamas: $1.00 each, garage sales

Total: $5.50

(Soo, my animal rule does not apply to pajamas.  Let the girl sleep swaddled in a menagerie.)



Outerwear
Carter's aqua rain jacket: free, gift from Aaron's mom
Baby Gap yellow jacket: $6.00, Ebay
Old Navy pink fleece: free, hand-me-down
Old Navy navy/white striped jacket: $4.00, consignment shop

Total: $10.00

(She probably has too many jackets???)

Shoes
New Balance tennis shoes: $1.25, thrift store
Tan booties: $1.00, thrift store
Slipper socks: $2.25, Target clearance
Blue shoes: free, hand-me-down
Brown boots: $1.00, garage sale
Black Mary Janes: $0.50, garage sale

Total: $6.00

(Neutral is the name of the game for shoes!)



Outfits (Short sleeves for early fall but paired with cardis to take them into winter) 
Carter's hot pink cardigan: $7.00, carters.com clearance
Carter's love t-shirt: $5.00, carters.com clearance
Garanimals grey leggings: $0.50, garage sale
Old Navy white heart tee: $3.00, clearance
Old Navy heart leggings: $3.00, clearance
Old Navy gray cardigan: $8.00, sale
Old Navy yellow onesie: $3.00, clearance
Garanimals khaki pants: $1.00, thrift store
Children's Place white cardigan: $0.50, garage sale

Total: $31.00 (That seems like a lot after the other categories!)

(I'm obviously determined that she will love cardigans as much as I do.)


Outfits
Carter's peach top and patterned denim leggings: $4.00, JCPenney with $10 off coupon
Old Navy ivory pullover: $1.00, garage sale
Children's Place jeggings: $2.00, consignment store
OshKosh striped tunic: $2.00, consignment store 
Children's Place jeggings: $1.00, garage sale
OshKosh coral striped top: $1.00, garage sale
Garanimals brown yoga pants: $0.50, garage sale

Total: $11.50

(I think I would wear the patterned denim leggings myself, if I could.)


Uh, Mom, why are you laying all my clothes out on the bed?  That's weird. 

Outfits
Garanimals ivory top with lace: free, gift from my mom
Zara khakis: $6.00, ThredUp
Carter's chambray shirt: $12.00, carters.com
H&M flowered leggings: $7.00, hm.com
Old Navy green shirt: $1.00, garage sale
White leggings: $2.25, Kohls clearance
Circo white tunic: $0.50, thrift store
Orange leggings: $1.00, thrift store

Total: $29.75

(The chambray shirt outfit is her birthday present.  I really wanted to buy her this outfit, but $19.00 for a baby outfit is crazy expensive in our world, so that money came out of the present fund.)

Dresses
Old Navy coral dress: $6.00, ThredUp
Circo brown dress: $1.00, garage sale
Circo butterfly dress: $1.00, garage sale

Total: $8.00 

Grand total drumroll?  44 pieces for $101.75.  $100 still feels like a lot to me to spend on baby clothes, but it's spread out throughout the year as I pick things up here and there, and it averages out to $2.31 per item, which seems a lot easier to swallow!  

About ThredUp.  Have you heard of it?  It's an online consignment shop where I bought the Zara pants and the coral Old Navy dress.  Although you have to wade through some not-so-great stuff, it's a good place to find nicer brands for cheaper than retail.  Sometimes, the garage sales around here are full of animal/cupcake/pinkpinkpink little girl clothes.  ThredUp is a way to find some labels I really like but could never buy new.

The best thing about them is their referral program.  Every friend that signs up gets $10 credit, and if that friend makes a purchase, you get $10 added to your account.  Since there are a lot of things priced under ten bucks (even with shipping added in), it's a win/win.  Your friend gets something free, and you get $10 added to your account.  Obviously, I would be thrilled if you joined ThredUp through my referral link.  Then, go get yo' friends to join so you can get some credit too! Aaron teases me that this is my pyramid scheme - it isn't a pyramid scheme - but yes, I am excited about ThredUp.

And because I can't say pyramid scheme without thinking of that Office episode, here you go: 


"Yes!  Thank you!  You will get rich quick.  We all will!"  Makes me laugh every time.  

What about y'all?  How do you shop for your kids?  Secondhand all the way?  A good mix?  Wouldn't touch a garage sale with a pole?  Do share.  

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Garden Lives On



In a surprising plot twist, the zucchini and the cucumbers are no longer with us.  RIP.

But!  The peppers pulled through their blight and are now popping out little progeny all over the place.

And the sunflowers are bent on world dominion.

Gardening is such a head-scratcher. This is about the time of year that I want to pull everything up, even the plants that are producing well.  You can only blanch and freeze so many green beans, and when you're scared of canning tomatoes because of botulism, well, you run out of ideas for using them all.  We are becoming the neighborhood dispensary for tomatoes.  (Which, as it turns out, giving away food you've grown is as much fun as eating food you've grown.)  












Our little garden grows and grows, through the August dryness and burning sun, and even though I sometimes want to give up on the entire caboodle, mornings find me outside with the hose.  Later, before Anna's nap, we sashay to the garden to pull a few weeds or deadhead the petunias.  Anna always eats a marigold.  (Don't worry - I googled it, and marigolds are only just a wee bit poisonous.)  After dinner, Aaron joins our parade out the back door to pick beans and pluck tomatoes.  Before returning inside, we stop and stare at our three glorious watermelons.  Our watermelon discussion is cyclical; every night we return to the same question.  "So, uh, do you think they're ready?" 



All those tiny seeds, finger-poked into the ground months ago.  Seeds that have turned my yard into a lavish mass of green, polka-dotted with yellow, red, pink, purple.  (There were also a fair amount of impulse bedding plant purchases.)



I'm already thinking of bulbs for fall planting.  Our new house hasn't one tulip to its name, although Mrs. Smith, the lady who built the house and lived here 50 years, had a special predilection for pink ladies.  (Did you know that if you pick your pink ladies and bring them inside, a curious and very pungent mothball smell will fill the air?  Live and learn.)

It's been the summer of the garden.

A great summer, indeed.