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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Do Quality Kids' Shoes Have to be SO Expensive?

So, shoes for kids. Oh so expensive right? I love to shop for shoes for my kids and I don’t think it is just because they are girls. There are some really cute boy’s shoes too. Is there a way to get around paying upwards of $40 for shoes for a toddler? Well, there may be but I have not yet found it.

Let me just say that I L-O-V-E zappos.com. You probably know they have recently been purchased by Amazon for a reported 10 million shares of Amazon stock. When they first came around I used to price shop them and if someone was less expensive I would buy from a competitor or another store. But now, after many years of buying from them, I don’t do that anymore - I am loyal to them. I like them and their service so much that I shop there for many of the shoes I buy but especially for my kids. Do you know how quickly the shoes you order arrive? Or how easy it is to return shoes? Well, overnight and almost effortless. But that is not really what I wanted to talk about. I wanted to talk about the style and brands of shoes that I have been most pleased with.

My kids have small feet, my 3 year old wears a 7 and my 19 month old wears a size 4, but I have really tried many different shoes. I have bought and been very happy with the Target brand “Circo.” Those shoes last and last and seem comfortable enough for daily wear. But when I buy shoes for serious activity I pay close attention to comfort and build. I look at the amount of padding, where the padding is, how much toe coverage there is and if socks must be worn with them or not. Before they were adept at walking both of them lived in Robeez. People gave me Pedipeds but I never really used them as much as the Robeez. If you have a child who is cruising but not yet walking on their own, get them! They are awesome.

Both my girls’ first pair of walking shoes were Stride Rites. Those are what I recommend especially for early walkers. They are oh so comfortable for those tender and unstable little feet. Stride Rites seem to somehow help with the process of learning to walk as well. They seem to have the perfect combination of comfort and stability to help a young one get the confidence they need to become proficient at walking on their own. I also recommend Jumping Jacks for those children who are on the early side of walking. They are similar to Stride Rites in their build and comfort they just don’t seem soft enough to actually help a child learn to walk. I also love Geox shoes and New Balance shoes for my 3 and under girls. My 3 year old has been wearing the same pair of Geox tennis shoes for a year. I did buy them a little big so they have fit her for a long time but they have also held up beautifully. She goes to school every day and plays outside and they still look brand new. She just grew out of them so I will need to get another pair. The New Balance ones I have to replace the Geox shoes are both cute and comfy as well. I bought them at my local New Balance store.

The last brand I want to mention is Nina. I just went onto Zappos.com a couple of days ago searching for a pair of sandal type shoes that the girls can wear without socks and would go with the sundresses that they want to wear all summer. I also wanted the shoes to be somewhat waterproof. And yes you can search by these criteria on Zappos.com. I chose these shoes because they are the cutest little white leather sandals. Well, I can’t get my 19 month old to take them off! She totally digs these shoes and wants to wear them without socks all day long. It’s a good thing they are adorable. Both girls have been wearing them without socks and seem to really like them. All of the brands that I just mentioned commonly cost $40+! My experience is that with children’s shoes you get what you pay for... I just wish you didn’t have to pay so much!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Feel Like You Spend Too Much Money on Your Hair?

Have you ever noticed how your hairstylist could probably double as your therapist? I was getting my hair done today by a girl who I have been going to for a couple of years now and really like her work. I not only like the way she does my hair but I also really like her personality and I think that now that I am in my mid 30’s this does play a part in who I choose to do my hair. I am certainly not selling her skills short by any stretch but the fact that I like her “council” since she is a smart, caring and delightful person does not hurt and probably helps when it comes to doing my hair.

I had never really thought about it until I was in her chair today and overheard another woman on a rant about some random thing that was obviously very important to her. I caught myself eavesdropping and thinking “wow, she sure airs her dirty laundry out in public.” It was only then that I realized that this was what I had been doing for the last hour + that I had been there myself. It was just that her hair dryer got turned off right at the climax of her story and she was too heated to lower her voice so we all overheard her confessions to her hair stylist that were meant to be shared in private. I then started having flashes of my past visits to my beloved hair stylist and some of the intimate conversations I had had with her. I mean I had not ever thought about how much she knows about me. I proceeded to ask her “did you ever realize that you are all therapists?” Well, this was obviously not news to her as she answered my question with a chuckle and a “yes, sometimes people want an unbiased opinion or some encouragement or support.” That was what I had just, inadvertently, gotten from her. I had just shared some of my deepest secrets with this woman who while I had been seeing her for a couple of years I did not even know her last name! I always just go in there and unload whatever is ailing me at the time and somehow I leave not only with a spectacular “do” but a lighter heart and an added vote of confidence!

So the next time you come down on yourself (as we all sometimes do) about how much money you spend on your hair just remember this; you got a therapy session, an unbiased opinion and a dedicated friend for an entire couple of hours. It is actually quite a bargain!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Natural Baby Products: Hard to Find? Yes!

I have just finished spending upwards of an hour on trying to buy a detangler for my girls. Let me back up. I am the mother of two beautiful and delicate little girls. A three year old and an eighteen month old. Since shortly after the first one was born I have been tuned into the talk about the brands of personal hygiene products that we have been used to using for generations and the controversies surrounding their ingredients. I have been trying to feed them organically and to bathe and lube them up with the most gentle and wholesome products possible. Do you have any idea how hard it has been for me to number one find products that work and then number two to keep a good stock of them?

OK, so I did not start this way right out of the gate. One of the gifts I was given at a baby shower was a tube of Aveeno baby wash. Well, naturally I used it. Then about a month later and right when the tube was almost empty I got an e-mail from a friend concerning not only the baby wash I was using but also so many of the familiar brands I had also been gifted. As I read the message I became pretty uncomfortable with the choice I had made about which products to use on my newborn baby girl. Allegations like “cancer causing” and “numbing agents” really made an impression on me. I immediately started searching through the Parents Magazine list attached to the e-mail for some safer alternatives.

My first choice was a brand called “Tribe Kids” and I was quite happy with my decision. I was able to read the label without the use of a dictionary which made me feel more at ease with using the stuff on the skin of my then infant. Since that time I have been reading the labels of many of the products I have in my house and what I have found has been kind of alarming. Anyway, I now use the label as one way to decide whether or not I feel safe allowing the product to touch the skin of my girls. Well, “Tribe Kids” has since gone out of business following many months of not being able to supply products. My guess is that this might have something to do with the fact that it is very expensive to make such high quality products and preserving them has in some cases proven to be even more of a feat. So you can only make what you can sell for fear that it will spoil. I then turned to a brand called “Earth Mama Angel Baby.” I really like this line. Their lotion smells so good you will want to eat your little one . My issues with them are #1 SHIPPING COSTS which if you will excuse me for a moment I would like to return to this and #2 tangles. What the heck is up with people expecting you to pay $10+ for an 8 oz bottle of lotion and then almost half that in shipping? Why don’t people get smart and either expand production or get distributors in other places? All of these “pure” types of products seem to be made in CA or some other place far away and not to mention that they weigh a ton to ship which can be an issue for a North Carolina girl like me who is trying to get them. I know, I hear some of you saying that I can go to Whole Foods or O’baby Organics. Have you ever tried to do that? If you read the labels of many of the baby products in Whole Foods (which I do love Whole Foods) what you will find is that more often than not you see “glycerin” and many ingredient names or chemical formulas that you will not recognize on the label and then we are back to square one. Move on to another product. With me, the most important part is not the “organic” stamp (which I think can be more easily attained that we would like) but the fact that I know what the ingredients are they are not just chemical formulas that can be anything. Angel Baby products give you that peace of mind and can be found in O’baby Organics but I have not ever found what I am looking for in there. I appreciate and believe in what they do and I understand that this is a matter of opinion but they don’t ever have what I want so I am back to the internet. So now WHY does somebody not do something about this?? Free shipping over a certain dollar amount? Distribution in more than one place? Any other suggestions??

I was simply searching for a detangler that contained in it ingredients that I could pronounce. No problem, right? Wrong. This took me in excess of an hour and while I did order something it was not exactly what I would have liked. When it gets here we will see how it works. I don’t even remember what I settled on because by the time I picked one my eyes were crossed form looking. If you “Google” “organic baby products” a whole list of stuff comes up. Among the products is also a brand called “Mustela” which my own hairstylist told me about as product she knew worked with some but was not sure about what they were made out of. But since their label is not available on the site I could not buy their stuff although they have a long history.

I just want to be able to read the label!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

My Three Year Old Girl: Three going on twenty-three

I love my three year old daughter. I love them both of course but I wanted to talk about her for a minute. She is so much fun for me. Just like a friend who I would hang out with. She loves shoes, handbags, dresses, and having her nails done. She even sits still waiting for nail polish to dry! Did I mention she is three?? All of this aside I swear that there are times that I think she is going through puberty! I mean this is not what I would call the “terrible twos or threes” - this is butting heads with me in a way that is very different from the way she interacts with just about everyone else! She is pretty smart and does have a BIG personality but this is something else.

I am already “uncool” and a “PITA” to her. Like when I ask her to do something she does not want to she will actually roll her eyes. This is unbelievable to me! It is so interesting because she does really like hanging out with and doing stuff with me but I am the first person to hear about it when something is not to her satisfaction. This is a relationship unlike any I have even been in! I really do love doing things with her and she does usually wind up doing what I ask of her but it is not without some work. I have to work for and explain everything more than everyone else has to but I guess I do also get preference from her more often too. She is a daddy’s girl but daddy is still daddy.

It may not sound like it but I enjoy her so much because of her personality. I think it is so cute and I have learned so much from her. Particularly in the department of patience…I just am not sure if all three year old girls are like this??

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Introduction to Kidding Around in Town [dot] com

Our (my husband and my) goal is to provide parents with information, a forum, a voice, and most importantly a partnership. I am the mother of two little girls. My oldest is 3 and her little sister (and target of her frustration) is 18 months old. My husband is a wiz at the internet and works for Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center so I am lucky. This idea came to me while doing what I love most - things with my girls. I was looking for a place to find what is going on in town for kids their ages. As a matter of fact it was just when my oldest turned three that I realized that this opened up a whole new realm of things to do. So I began my search for a calendar of events for this area.

What I found was that there was no good, inclusive source of information about what to do with kids in town. There are many web sites and magazines that give you some information but I wanted something comprehensive that I could look at in the form of a calendar and then make decisions about what I wanted to do after having looked at all (most) of the options in one place. Since I could not find anything like this I made it myself. I am not claiming to have captured absolutely everything going on but I think it is pretty darn close! There is a submission form on this site for things I may have missed. Please let me know and I will add whatever!

Given the economic environment of the present time I have also paid special attention to discounted and FREE events and I have an entire calendar dedicated to “Meal Deals” in town. Check it out! I have currently limited the area included to Winston-Salem, Clemmons and Lewisville just in the interest of getting something out there that will serve my immediate community. I will probably start including other surrounding areas soon…My goal is to have the next month’s calendar completed by the 15th of the previous month (ex: September will be complete by August 15th).

I also really like to write about children and I have a real interest in learning about most things concerning them so you will find a blog here that I hope you will read and comment on. Let’s be friends and support each other. I think we have a lot to learn from one another. It is important to feel safe in talking about issues regarding our children. Mothers need a sounding board. I think we need a place to go to ask those questions that we have always wanted to but never got the chance to. Personally I have had a lot of them. From things like what kind of sunscreen works the best to fast and healthy meal ideas there are so many things we need to talk about J I love talking about my girls and I love being there for other parents who maybe going through something I have either been through or know something about. And if I don’t know the answer or have any advice I am sure that one of you does! There are so many things I have wanted to talk about since the birth of my first child in 2006 and I can think of no better way to share and support than this. Please join me in the journey of raising my kids.

We will not ever charge parents for using whatever we have available on this site but if you like what you see please tell everyone! This is what will keep us going-traffic. We would like to keep the site going for us but it is more important to keep it going for you all and for all of our children. After all, we all need each other.

We are so excited to have you!