I shopped til I dropped.

As I’ve been mentioning, consignment sale season is upon us here in KC, and yesterday I hit my favorite sale to stock up on my girls fall and winter clothes for the year.  Since this sale is my favorite, its the one I consign to, and I volunteer as well so I can shop the earliest pre-sale the day before the sale opens to the public.  I do this because a) it’s not as crowded as when it’s open to the public and b) you get first pick of all the really great stuff at the best prices.  This is especially helpful if you’re looking for something specific or hard to find, like an outdoor toy/playset or a bike.

However I was looking for neither, this year’s trip was just for clothes.  Of course I had to get Carlie some clothes. She can still wear some of last year’s clothes, but most are getting to short on her.  They’ll only last a few months before she needs the next size.

Maddie I just needed to fill in some holes where I did not have particular items when Carlie was that age.  It’s ironic — Carlie and Maddie are the closest in age (18 months) but yet are so different in terms of size and body type.  Carlie was a chunky baby, and she’s still outgrowing the thick thighs and tummy.  She might have that tummy her whole life (poor kiddo).  Maddie is a skinny-minny who only wears a 3T for the length.  All her adjustable waist pants are on the smallest setting so they don’t fall off of her.  And she can still pull them off without unbuttoning them.  And actually, her Halloween costume is an 18 month size.  Ironic given Lizzie can wear 18 month size already (my second chunky monkey).

And even though I have a ton of baby girl clothes from my older two, Lizzie had to go and be a different size for the season.  She’ll wear 18 months but the older two wore 18 months size in the summer, so I had to buy some new clothes for her too.

I got to the sale at 4:15, and I didn’t get out of there until 8.  Four hours of shopping.  I was pretty pooped.  I guess in all fairness I shopped until 7:15 but I happened to finish around the time the consigners (who were let in at 6) were wrapping up so I caught the long line.

But I ended up with 77 pieces for just under $300 (tax included), including a Halloween costume and a winter coat.  And a “piece” is everything on a hanger.  So if someone combined a shirt, sweater and leggings on a hanger, that’s one “piece”.  So really I have more than 77 items for that much.  That’s less than $4 per piece, and I’m guessing less than $3 per item if I were to count the number of items.

I’d love to show you some pictures, but after I got home last night, kissed the girls good night, did the dishes, folded some laundry, sorted through the clothes, then sat down, I was done for the day.  So we’re picture-free today.

Now all I have to do to get the girls ready for winter is figure out what I need for tights, additional leggings and socks, and I need to find them some casual and dressy shoes.  And we’ll be ready for winter!  Well, physically at least.  Mentally I’m so not ready…..

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Miscellaneous Monday: YA Sci-Fi, Lizzie in jail, Fantasy Football and Who’s the Boss?

After taking the weekends off I am too lazy find it hard to remember to get a post ready for Monday.  So I’m going to try out Miscellaneous Monday.  Just random thoughts or happenings from me.  If you’re like me you probably can’t handle much more than that on Mondays anyway, right?

Whew!  That was a long post title this week.  Let’s get down to bid-ness.

Miscellaneous #1:

I’m totally into this whole sci-fi young adult genre that’s so popular today.  I’m very much a fan of The Twilight Saga, I read The Hunger Games series in like a grand total of 5 days (for all three books), and of course you can’t leave out Harry Potter.  (Is that even part of this genre?  No matter, I love HP anyway.)  I just finished reading The Giver by Lois Lowry (decent, didn’t love the ending) and have Bumped by Megan McCafferty and Feed by M.T. Anderson on hold for me at the library.  I’m such a huge sci-fi dork fan (yes, I love Star Wars and own the whole collection) and I love the young adult versions because they’re short and easy to read.  I can usually finish one in a few hours.  Which is nice when you usually only get 15 minutes at a time to read due to three monsters tearing up your home lovely children playing nicely together.  Are they the most challenging literature to tackle?  Certainly not.

Miscellaneous #2:

Lizzie has now started standing.  This kid can pull herself to standing anywhere.  All she needs is something stable to touch — a chair, a wall, a person’s leg — and she’s up.  I don’t mind so much, but of course now when she wakes up from her nap or during the night she immediately pulls herself up and starts screaming bloody murder.  Which of course is kinda funny, since when you walk into her room and see her standing there, holding on to the sides of her crib and peering out at me, it’s like she’s in a jail or something.  Not that being in jail is funny.  It’s just funny to see a baby who looks like she’s in jail.  *Sigh.*

But of course it’s not really funny because she’s doing this when she’s supposed to be sleeping.  And you know I can’t just go in and put her back down and have her drift off to sleep peacefully.  Nope, I calm her down, try to walk out and BAM!  Scream city all over again.   After spending seven months of hell where I was exhausted 24/7 I am NOT ready for this.  I’m going to be optimistic and assume this is just a quick phase that she’ll outgrown in a few days or a week, tops.  If anyone dares to tell me it lasted more than that for their child I’ll just plug my ears (eyes?) and sing “LALALALALALALALA”.   Because I’m mature like that.

Miscellaneous #3

Fantasty Football draft is next week.  I’m very excited but already anxious about the draft.  I have a hard enough time making decisions in real life, how am I supposed to pick who I want on my fantasy team?

Miscellaneous #4

Last week was a bad week.  Just a bad, rotten, no-good week.  I’m hoping this week is better.

Scratch that.  This week WILL be better.  I’m going to show this week who’s the boss.  Ha, Who’s the Boss…that was a great TV show, wasn’t it?  We need more family friendly TV like that.  Wait…a male housekeeper and his daughter living with his female boss and her son and her snarky mom wasn’t family-friendly?  Okay, maybe not.

And that’s my random train of thought for the day.

That’s all for this Monday.  10-4, over and out.

Woo hoo! School has started!

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, yesterday was the first day of school for the year for Carlie.

She was so excited, as was I.

I love my children, I really do, and I love staying home with them, but I am so so so SO happy school has started.  Summer is fun, and I love the flexibility of being able to do what we want when we want, but I also love the structure and routine that comes with school.

Okay, and who am I kidding, I love having one less kid in the house.  Carlie is a fun, energetic, happy kid, but she’s already starting with the “I’m bored!  I don’t want to play.” routine.  And she no longer naps (partially because she just doesn’t need one anymore, partially because I needed to prep her for afternoon preschool), so my afternoons would get so long trying to keep her entertained.

Mommy needs a break!

And Day 1 of school was so lovely.  She got on the bus, I took the younger two on a quick library trip, got home, put them down for naps, and enjoyed the silence.  I got 5 loads of laundry folded, caught up on Facebook, and watched a few episodes of Mad Men.  I really do need to get back into running during naptime again, maybe I’ll start that today.  Or next week.  And as I have a slew of photography sessions coming up I’m sure I’ll be spending the quiet time editing.  Which is fine with me, because I love to do that.

The other thing I love about Carlie being gone is that I get more quality time with Maddie and Lizzie.  Carlie has a strong personality and she tends to dominate everything in this house.  She tells the little girls what to do, she demands more of my attention, and she determines the play structure.  I  noticed yesterday that as soon as Carlie left, Maddie started talking and did. not. stop. until naptime.

But Carlie had a good first day, she’s really excited about school this year.  I can’t believe this is her last year of preschool and she’ll be starting Kindergarten next year.  But don’t mention that to her if you see her.  She starts crying and saying how she’ll miss all her friends and teachers.

*Sigh.*

It’s going to be a long 14 years.

Raising Girls Today: How much pink is too much pink?

So I as I mentioned in my last post about Raising Girls Today, one of my biggest pet peeves with raising girls in society today (and this actually applies to boys too) is the commercialism and consumerism that envelops every aspect of our kids worlds today. 

An interesting observation that Peggy Orenstien makes is the prevalence of formerly gender-neutral or even “boy” toys now showing up in – you guessed it – pink.  Legos, Tinker Toys, Etch-a-Sketch, even power tools sets.  But it raises the question – are these items being sold in pink because it’s what consumers are demanding?  Will girls really only want these toys if they’re offered in pink?  Or are the companies in a sense creating this trap for little girls where their only option is pink?

It makes me wonder what the repercussions might be for offering all these toys for girls in pink.  Does it encourage girls to play with toys they might not have (i.e. power tools) because they’re pink?  Or does it limit them because they won’t want to explore toys that are not offered in pink?  Would they choose the Etch-a-Sketch anyway even though it was red?  How much influence does pink have over our little girls today and the choices they make?

Photography courtesy of amazon.com.

Peggy Orenstein relates a story about her daughter owning a silver scooter and wearing a silver helmet with a green fire-breathing dragon.  Another little girl with a pink scooter and pink helmet asked her why she was wearing a boy’s helmet.  To Peggy’s relief, her daughter stood up for herself and said it was a helmet for a boy or a girl.  But what happens to girls who choose to defy the pink?  Will they be called a boy or tom-boy?  And if so, will that peer pressure shape those girls preferences to pink to avoid being teased?

And what happens as they grow up?  Will they grow up thinking that pink is the only color they are allowed to like?  What if they like green?  Or blue?  Or red?  Are all other colors besides pink and pastels “boy colors”?  I remember having lots of pink when I was a kid, but nothing like it is today.  As kids get older will they shed the color-stereotypes and choose what they like rather than what they’re “supposed to choose” because of their gender?  Or are these limited choices in their youth causing a permanent shift in preferences for life?

Photograph courtesy of amazon.com.

And finally how, as parents, should we react?  Am I overthinking this?  Making too much out of it?  Do we just let it be and assume as the girls grow up they’ll grow out of it?  Or should we make conscious efforts to offer our daughters a variety of colors and options for their play and dress?  Do we demand that companies offer more than pink for our daughters?  Or do we buy the “boy” version and hope the girls choose to play with it anyway?

As I’ve said before, I purposely often choose non-pink and non-character items for my girls.  With three girls we have plenty of pink in our house, and I myself like a bit of variety.  That and my poor husband doesn’t need to live in a house that looks like a bottle of Pepto-Bismol exploded in it.

I’m sure he appreciates that.

So as you see I have lots of questions, but no real answers.  It’s up to each of us to know our children, assess what we feel is best for them, and make choices based on that knowledge.

What are your thoughts on toys marketing specifically to girls using pink and princess themes to catch the girls attention?  Is it okay since that’s what girls want, or are they creating the demand by offering these choices?

How to Get Your Kids to Eat Healthy Snacks: A tutorial

Let me just start by saying the title of this post is rather tongue-in-cheek.  I mean, I have (what I think is) some good advice to give on the subject, however I don’t really have a step-by-step guide to tell you how to get your kids to eat healthier.  Sorry if I misled you.  What is that called again?  Oh yeah, the old bait ‘n switch.

Anyhoo, usually once or twice a week our errands we run in the mornings require a stop by a grocery store.  I often bribe offer my kids a special treat if they behave themselves.  And lately their choice has been an apple.

When we’re eating at home and the kids finish their meal and want something special or sweet, I offer them yogurt with honey and/or fruit.  They love it and it’s good for them (especially since we eat homemade yogurt with no artificial colors or sweeteners).

So how did I get such health-conscious children?

I created them.  (Literally.)

Okay, I’m not giving them 100% of the credit.  It’s not like they walk into the store and make a beeline for the fresh fruit section and cry out “This, Mom! I want this as my special treat!”.  Nope, they’re not that brainwashed good.  Yet.

However as we meander the store I might suggest a few things they might like, typically in the fresh fruit section.  And as I speak to them I make it sound very appealing.

“Wow, look at those bright green and red apples!  Don’t they look good?”

“Those bananas sure are yellow.  Would you like a banana as a special treat?”

Or if we walk by the salad bar and see a fruit we don’t want to buy a whole bunch or a whole one of (say pineapple), I’ll offer that as an option.

Now if we pass through the bakery and they see cookies and cakes, do they ask for those?  Of course.  They’re human, not child-bots.  But I usually make a quick comment about that not being a very healthy choice or too expensive.  Or in Maddie’s case “No, Maddie, we’re not buying you a whole pie as your special treat.”  And we move on.

Do they always ask for yogurt after a meal?  No, sometimes they ask for ice cream or cookies.  Especially if they know we have them around.  Do we give them ice cream and cookies?  Occassionally.

So what in the heck is my whole point in all of this?  The point is you can influence your children’s food choices.  Especially if you start at a young age, like I did.  Don’t give in to every request they have.  You are the grown up.  You hold the purse strings.  They can have an apple or they can have nothing.  It’s up to them.

And for those super-picky kids that don’t eat anything healthy?  Continuously offer it to them.  Don’t let them choose an apple or potato chips.  If they’re hungry enough they’ll eat the healthy choice.  And let them see you eating it yourself.  If you don’t eat fruits and vegetables, guess what?  Neither will your kids.   And while I like the idea of getting the kids extra nutrition by “hiding” fruits and veggies in their meals, I also think it does not replace offering them real fruits and veggies at every meal.

Now I’m not saying to be a food-Nazi and only give them food you want them to eat.  If you force it on them without choice they could resist.  Kids need choices and need to feel that they have control over what they do.  But you can limit those choices.  And explain to them how a certain item (i.e. an apple) is healthier than another (i.e. potato chips).  If you let them know good choices like apples help them grow healthy and strong but potato chips don’t, they’ll get it.  Kids are much smarter than we give them credit for.

If you have young children (and heck, even if you have older children) you are laying the foundation of their eating habits for life.  If you give them healthy choices and they see you make healthy choices it will be engrained in them forever.

Did you know it’s possible for the current generations to actually have a shorter lifespan than prior generations?  I know I for one would love to change that trend and for the current generation of young kids to be less obese and have a longer life span than their predecessors.  And as their parents, it begins with us.

Okay, I’m down off my soapbox now.  Thank you for listening.  🙂