DIY Kid’s Swimsuit Alteration: No More Falling Straps!

IMAG0420_1So, I’m not sure what clothing manufacturers are thinking, but McKenzie’s straps always fall off her shoulders: tank tops, swimsuits, dresses, etc. She doesn’t have super-broad shoulders, but I think she’s a pretty normal-sized kid. Am I alone here? Either way, I don’t like it. I prefer to keep my 4-year-old’s chest completely covered, thank you very much.

Anyway, as I mentioned in this post, we’ve been going to the YMCA lately for swimming. Last summer, I had actually tied dental floss in the middle to keep her straps from falling off (see above)! I was sick of it. Sooooo, today I decided to alter the shoulder straps (ie: cut & re-sewed them…just a needle & thread). I am SO pleased with the end-result. They stay perfectly and don’t fall off…it worked so well that I had to share!

swimsuit

The “after.” The straps were originally two inches out to either side.

In the future maybe I’ll just look for halter swim suits, but if you have the same problem with your daughter’s clothes, I highly recommend this simple fix. =)

Confessions of a Netflix Junkie.

About a year ago, we decided to cancel our cable. We didn’t watch it enough to justify spending $70+ dollars a month, so we decided to give Netflix a try…and we love it! ((We use the streaming version through our blu-ray player.)) And the best part is that we’re still able to watch our favorite shows on network TV. It’s how I unwind after everyone in the house is asleep. Not gonna lie, I’m a Netflix junkie.

Another reason I love Netflix is the iPad app. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been allowed to sleep in because we turn on Netflix for McKenzie and let her watch a Sesame Street while we catch a few more Zzzzz…sometimes that extra hour of sleep on a Saturday is heavenly! Or taking the iPad into the bathtub and soaking while watching my favorite shows…equally heavenly!

Since I’m such a fiend, I thought I’d give you my top 10 picks for Netflix TV shows (in no particular order). Believe me, we’ve watched many more, but these are my faves. Please feel free to tell me any good shows I’ve missed, I’m always looking for more!

Adults

  1. Breaking Bad
  2. Madmen
  3. White Collar
  4. Luther
  5. The Kill Point
  6. Gossip Girl
  7. Vampire Diaries
  8. Weeds
  9. Lost
  10. Dollhouse

Kiddos (Preschool/Kindergarten)

  1. Sesame Street…can’t beat the classics!
  2. Arthur
  3. Curious George (I am actually entertained watching this!)
  4. My Little Ponies
  5. Dora and/or Diego
  6. Martha Speaks (I love the “word of the day” theme.)
  7. Angelina Ballerina
  8. Dinosaur Train
  9. The Laurie Berkner Band (2 different song/dance shows on Netflix.)
  10. Super Why

You might notice that many of the kid’s shows I’ve listed are PBS Kids. That’s because PBS Kids rocks. They are often gender-neutral, light-hearted, with great life lessons and educational messages. Oh, and if you have an iPad, PBS Kids has an app. *amazing* I highly recommend it.

One more thing: I don’t like to use the words “hate” and “children” in the same sentence…BUT I hate the children’s show Caillou. His voice is constantly set on “whine” mode, and anytime he doesn’t get what he wants, he whines and cries until his parents give him what he wants. Gee, that’s exactly what I want to teach my kid…not.

And you know what’s funny? You know you don’t have cable when…your kid asks you “What’s a commercial?” Haha, yup. *pats self on back* One less way the media influences my child. Netflix 1, Cable 0.

A hair dilemma.

I have straight hair. Very, very straight hair. So straight that if I curl it (even with hairspray), it’s flat within 10 minutes. Imagine my surprise when my daughter has fluffy, curly hair. What do I do with that? Curly hair does run in my family (my sister & dad) and on Jon’s side too, so I wasn’t horribly surprised.

First thing I did was ask my sister what to do. She told me 1) never brush her hair unless it’s wet because it separates them, 2) get layers in her hair because it brings out the curls, and 3) use product for curly hair! Well, I’m still not good at it, so inevitably I always just put her hair in a ponytail. Which I do very well, if I do say so myself. But the day I snapped these photos (when we were in California) we left it down. It was pretty, but I did break rule #1, and you can tell. See what I mean when I say fluffy? I just wound her hair around my finger when it was wet to accentuate the ringlets.

And I didn’t realize how red it looks until I saw these photos! She got this horse with a Barbie for her birthday and she was very proud it…I love how she’s trying to ride it (in the above pics). She wouldn’t part with it for days! Not even on the airplane ride home. =)

Her outfit was under $15:

  • Shirt: Target, $7.99 (unusual for me, because I never buy her new clothes!)
  • Jeggings: Target, clearance $3.98 (they’re one size too small, so I turn them into capris by rolling them up once)
  • Shoes: Old Navy, thrifted $1.99 (I threw them in the wash and they look brand new!)

Free 8×8 Shutterfly Photo Book Code…who doesn’t love FREE?

Okay, so I LOVE those few times a year when Shutterfly gives away the free 8×8 hardcover Photo Books…and now is one of those times! I just got the e-mail yesterday and I am soooo excited, you guys! The promo code is: SUMMERBOOK and it’s good until Wednesday, September 12th. You only pay shipping…so basically, it’s time to get creative! Here are some things that I currently want to do with Photo Books for McKenzie:

http://www.shutterfly.com

-Memories: I have recently resolved to make a photobook for each year of her life. I never really kept up with the baby book for her, so I think this is a great way to chronicle her infancy/toddlerhood/preschool years before I start forgetting the silly/adorable little milestones she’s had! I’ll need to catch up on Birth/1-Year,  Age 1/2, Age 2/3, and Age 3/4…oh my! I have a lot of pictures to sift through. =)

-Create a Story: I always thought it would be fun to create a little story with McKenzie, take pictures for it, and turn it into a Photo Book…wouldn’t that be such a fun little memory? You could either make it a project, write your own little story, and take pictures for it OR you could have your little kiddo(s) act out parts of a popular kid’s story and/or take pictures with friends to re-create  it for a Photo Book (think: ToyStory, Cars, Nemo, Snow White, Cinderella, etc). It’s kinda like publishing your own book!

-“A Day in the Life:” What about a Photo Book chronicling “A Day in the Life of (your kid’s name here)“?  Wouldn’t it be fun to read them their own story at bedtime?! How cool would that be? This could totally work for any age too, boy or girl. I really want to do this before it gets too cold outside to take pics!

-Give a Gift: These Photo Books are great gifts, and I want to start prepping for Christmas. And thoughtful gifts mean so much more than expensive ones…no question! I mean, no one needs to know it was free! ;)

I hope this gave you some good ideas for Photo Books so you can make fun, free one too! And please, you guys, let me know if any of you do idea #2! I really want to see one made this way, I think it’d be so fun! Remember, the coupon code expires Wednesday, September 12th…so you only have 5 days! Do any of you have other fun ideas for fun Photo Books?

As a side note: I’m working on creating another blog as a more permanent one that I plan to use: “Life So Lovely.” I’m going to re-copy all these posts to that one…I don’t really want to be restricted to blogging about kid’s fashion, because I think I have a lot more to say. Just interesting things. Parent things. Wife things. Life things. School things. You know, just general stuff. Never fear, I will always post about McKenzie and her little fashionable-self…I don’t think I can help it! Haha. I just think I’ll be able to build a longer-lasting audience if I have a less-narrow specification…ya dig? So that’s in the process. I’ll continue blogging on here until I feel ready for the big reveal of “Life So Lovely.” Stay tuned, and as always, thanks for stopping by!

Shop Smarter, Not Harder: Barbies on a Budget

McKenzie is currently on a Barbie kick. Which is completely fine…but who knew those things are so dang expensive?! It’s at least $10 for one. In order to save a little dough, I went to our local Goodwill to check out what they available. And I lucked out! Over the course of a couple weeks, I was able to find enough Barbies for great imagination play. And at only $1.99 each, they definitely didn’t break the bank. Since she’s only 4-years-old, McKenzie could care less if it’s thrifted…a new toy is a new toy!

Some of the Barbies were naked, so we went to Wal-Mart and got them some new clothes ($3.27/each)…but most of them came with an outfit. So for between $1.99-$5/each she has a new barbie clan. We even lucked out and found a Barbie car for $1.99!

Also, in order to keep them looking nice and prevent their hair from getting tangled, I always put their hair in ponytails right away. Everything pictured cost about $25 (including the new clothes), which is at least 50% off what we would’ve spent if we bought ‘em new. If you don’t have a big selection at your local thrift store, always check Craigslist and eBay! You never know what you’ll find.

Here’s another example, too: McKenzie had been asking for a guitar for weeks and I found this one at Goodwill for $1.99! And hey, you won’t feel bad if your kid(s) wrecks it, since you got such a great deal. =)

I’m not cheap…I’m thrifty!

Who likes to waste money? No one, that’s who. So whenever we visit California I always stop by the local Children’s Orchard to buy McKenzie “new” clothes. It’s a resale shop with children’s clothing and toys…and I LOVE it! Kids grow so quickly that their clothes stay in awesome shape. ((Check out the store locator on the home page to see if there’s one near you.)) I always go a little crazy and buy a ton of stuff… this visit, I got her ENTIRE winter wardrobe for around $80! Crazy, right? 6 pairs of pants, 6 shirts, 3 dresses, 1 pair of brand-new kicks. Yep. Momma did well! Here are my finds (and FYI, these are photos of the actual clothes I got her):

The brands for the jeans above are (left to right): Gap 1969, Genuine Kids, and Koala Kids. She only ever has about 2 pairs of jeans at a time. It’s all you really need.

These are all corduroy pants if you can’t tell from the picture (pink ones are actually thrifted from Goodwill). I love bright colored pants on kids…and they’re even popular on adults right now…not that I could wear her pants. Haha. Any-who, the pink ones are Genuine Kids and the other two are Cherokee. Sa-weet. That means that all 6 pairs of pants were under $30. They averaged $4.80/pair…for name-brand pants! Talk about a steal. ;)

And aren’t these dresses ridiculously cute?! The brands are (left to right): Old Navy, Gymboree, and the tags on the striped one were cut off…so if you know, leave a comment. ;) I figured that the red one will be for Christmas. The other two are just great fall/winter wardrobe staples. They could be worn with boots or shoes. =)

All the shirts I bought from Children’s Orchard were $3.99. The brands above are (left to right): Oshkosh B’Gosh, Jumping Beans, and Gymboree. The brands below are: Carter’s, Gap (obviously), and Jumping Beans. I love all the fun, bright colors!

Also, I always shop for shirts to match the shoes that she already has…like these ones from Target, which I found on clearance for $2.98. That way, I always know that her shoes will match her clothes, and I can dress her quickly without putting a lot of thought into it! Makes things super-simple.

Lastly, I found these amazingly cute Adidas shoes there…they are definitely brand new and they were only $7.99! They will match perfectly with the (3) new Adidas tracksuits that she got for her birthday from our good friend, Kim, in California!I hope this gave everyone some insight into how I shop for Kenzie…can you believe all of these clothes are used? Can’t you just see all the adorable combos of outfits we can do with these pieces? If you don’t have a Children’s Orchard near you, there are tons of private resale shops around, and I shop at Goodwill all the time! I’m very picky though (I won’t get clothes if they look too worn), and I shop for the look of the clothes, not the brand. And even check Craigslist! You can get great deals on kid’s clothes. So you see, guys, I’m not cheap…I’m thrifty. ;) Oh, and thanks for all the birthday wishes already on FB! Y’all know how to make a girl feel special.

[[All photos were taken by me in my living room! Not too shabby for my first time editing photos this way, right?!]]

Why did the cow cross the road?

McKenzie has been incredibly shy lately when she’s introduced to strangers…which is totally fine because we’ve really been stressing “stranger danger” (the little sweetie was saying “hi!” to everyone she saw…cute, but potentially dangerous). Anyhow, it can definitely be a little embarrassing when we’re trying to introduce her to someone new, and she hides behind our legs…she’ll make the face in the bottom-right picture (below). What a little stinker.

To remedy this new-found shyness, we’ve taught her a couple cute, kid-friendly jokes…it really helps her relax a bit around new people. I found a lot of them on the Melissa & Doug blog, because we were having a hard time finding ones that would be easy enough for a preschooler/kindergartener to actually understand. Here is a list of the 10 best ones we’ve found:

  1. Why did the cow cross the road? To get to the udder side!
  2. What do you call a sweaty dog? A hot dog!
  3. What is a pirate’s favorite letter? Arghhhh! (r)
  4. What did the teddy bear say when he ate too much ice cream? I’m stuffed!
  5. Why was 6 afraid of 7? Because 7 ate  9!
  6. What time do you go to the dentist? Tooth-hurty!
  7. What do Santa’s Helpers learn in school? The elf-abet. 
  8. Where did the hamburger go on a date? To the Meat Ball!
  9. Why did Tigger go to the bathroom? To look for Pooh!
  10. Where do cows go on dates? To the mooooovies!

Like how I began and ended with a cow joke? We are from Wisconsin, after all…haha. ;) Kids telling jokes is just pretty darn cute, and I’m glad it sets her at ease around new people. Her favorite one right now is #2 on the list (probably because it’s so easy). Sometimes she’ll just roll right into the answer, but it’s cute anyway. Do you know any good, kid-friendly jokes? Feel free to share them with me so I can add them to our repertoire!

I used the “joke technique” with McKenzie at her fun-filled birthday lunch with me last Friday, and she told jokes 2, 3, 5, and 6 to our server! Afterward, I snapped some pictures of her in front of the Cheesecake Factory. She was in particularly happy mood, so I got these adorable, personality-filled pics! She wore this on her birthday, so it had to be fabulous. Can you believe this whole outfit was less than $10? Can’t beat that.

  • Shirt: $1.99, Children’s Place (thrifted from Goodwill…I love this shirt!)
  • Jeggings: $3.98, Circo (Target clearance)
  • Shoes: $2.98, Circo (Target clearance)

A tantrum for the books…

Oh. My. Goodness. Mad props to single parents everywhere. This “vacation” has definitely been stressful having McKenzie by myself. I didn’t realize how much I really need my “me time” to unwind after a long day…and how much of a hands-on daddy Jon is. If one of us is getting really stressed with her, we literally say “tag!” and switch. It’s great. And I definitely could’ve used it yesterday. She had a tantrum of epic proportions. But I don’t blame McKenzie at all…the Wisconsin/Cali time change was really dramatic (2 hours), so her sleep schedule is all f*%#ed up.  She only got 8 hours of sleep, which is like 30% less. But seriously you guys, it was terrible. Like, she was screaming and crying for 45 minutes and curled up in a closet type-terrible. When she was finally done with that she had a nice long nap, and I did too. It was glorious.

After our nap, we went down to the Embarcadero Marina at Dana Point Harbor and went out on Grandpa Jeff’s boat on the ocean. We got to see seals and dolphins, and it was pretty sweet! McKenzie thought it was pretty cool. She was very excited her new mermaid Barbie got to see them too. So that was our day yesterday. I’ll recap her b-day party in a later post when I can download the pics after we get home.

In the meantime, I took these pics before we left and this outfit was also around $10. Even though I bought the shirt new, it was still really reasonable at $5.99 on sale at Kohl’s. I always buy shirts based on the shoes I have for her. It takes any thinking out of the equation. Haha. And I have a theory I apply whenever I dress her: baggy on the top, tight on the bottom, or vice versa. And I currently love the trend of shoes without socks. ;)

  • Shirt: $5.99, Kohl’s
  • Leggings: $3.50, Carter’s Outlet
  • Shoes: $2.98, Target clearance

It’s Almost Birthday Time!

It’s almost McKenzie’s birthday! I can’t believe she’ll be 4. Time is running away, and I just wish it would slow down. She’s such a sweetheart. She’s seriously the most genuinely kind little kid I know. It’s hard to believe that 4 years ago right now I was ridiculously pregnant waiting to pop. I was nearly 2 weeks overdue when she made her arrival…who knows how long she would’ve waited! But she was born on Sunday, August 24th at 7:54pm. And our lives have never been the same. ♥

SOOOO anyway, I just learned how to do collages with Photoshop (I have CS5). I used this tutorial. It’s so much easier than I thought! What a relief. I was sick of the tiny pictures. Haha. I took these photos last week Friday before our trip to Milwaukee. I love this outfit! And it was super-reasonable too, around $18 total:

  • Hoodie: Oshkosh, $9.99 (on sale at Target)
  • Undershirt: Thrifted, $1.99
  • Jeggings: $3.98 (on clearance at Target). These are a little short on her because they’re 3T, but if you cuff them at the bottom–voila! You now have Jegging-capris.
  • Shoes: Thrifted, $1.99 local Goodwill. I always throw shoes in the wash and they look brand-new!

This year for her birthday McKenzie and I are flying to visit Grandpa Jeff in Laguna Niguel, California. Sadly, Jon needs to work so he’s staying behind in WI. We’re gonna have a little shindig at Grandpa’s place with a few local friends. It should be fun. Birthdays are always fun when you’re little! Then on the weekend we always go out on his boat in the ocean and see dolphins and seals…she’s gonna have a blast. AND he has a pool and beautiful playground at his community center.

Lemme just say: McKenzie has improved SO much at swimming this summer. We have a pool here at our condos, and she’s a little fish. Last year she used those ridiculous little arm bands with a circle-floatie. They were nice and cheap, but I definitely did not feel safe having her more than an arm’s reach away. When we were at the pool one day another kid had a Puddle Jumper…they are seriously the BEST! She has so much more confidence in the water when she wears it. Now we never go to the pool without it…and it’s Coast Guard approved, which makes me feel good too. Granted, she still goes under if she jumps in, but it brings her right back up (but doesn’t like going underwater anyway). I don’t know if it’ll fit in our luggage for our trip to California, but I might just buy one there since they’re cheaper than a baggage fee! ;)