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Archive for the ‘Family/Parenting’ Category

How to Enjoy Spring School Shopping

Thursday, January 15th, 2015

Shopping is probably the most difficult part of the back-to-school process, especially if you have elementary-age children, and it starts all over again once winter begins to thaw. Replacing clothes ruined in the fall and getting the right looks for the spring palette requires engaging your sons and daughters all over again. Aside from the difficulty of getting them to concentrate on the task at hand, you have to deal with all the attendant chaos of small children in a store. Don’t knock anything over, don’t hide in racks of clothing, and don’t open anything until we buy it – it’s so much to remember!

elegant girls dresses for spring

But if you’re reading this, you have the solution at your fingertips. You can get all you need for the spring, from children’s formal wear to accessories, with some online shopping. Pull junior up a seat, or give them some space on your lap so they can follow you on your shopping expedition.

To get more participation out of your kids, make them their own shopping list. Type up everything they need in a neat list, with a check box next to each item. Children like the feeling of accomplishment that comes with completing all the items on a list. If you want to make it more fun, offer a reward for getting everything checked off the list.

Shopping for clothes should be the most fun part of your virtual shopping expedition. Make sure to show your kids all the different colors they can choose from. Ask for their top 3 favorite colors, so you can hunt for the ideal shade together.

For ordinary outfits, remind them that they need an outfit for each day of the week. Consider giving them a visual aid – print and cut out pictures of items of clothing and show them how to mix and match tops and bottoms. Ask them to show you what they think will match with what. Throw some shoes in the mix for extra variety, and maybe a few bows and sweaters.

Remind them that they need outfits for dress-up occasions as well. It won’t be too hard to get your daughter to get caught up in the wide variety of elegant girls dresses. Your son can get in on the action – bowties or Windsor knots? Suspenders or a belt? You have endless options for personalizing your boy’s suits.

If you’re feeling really creative, try a paper doll project! First, print out a picture of your daughter, facing forward, standing straight. Make it approximately the same size as the online pictures of the dresses. Print out pictures of dresses from the website and let her play with putting different outfits on her personalized paper doll. Getting kids to participate in the decision-making process will get them super excited for the day their new outfits arrive in the mail.

Fun Fall Activities for Children

Monday, November 17th, 2014

Halloween, besides being possible the most fun holiday of all-time, is a monster when it comes to hogging the fall fun spotlight. Sure, there’s a lot of joy leading up to the fateful, candy-filled night – Deciding on a costume, getting the materials, gluing it together, finally giving up and buying one from the store (or repurposing a formal boy’s suit or girl’s formal dress). And then there’s the amount, and sheer variety, of candy. But this phase of the Earth’s sashay around the Sun has other advantages. Here are a few you probably enjoyed as a kid, and should make sure your kid does, too:

  1. Bonfires and Marshmallows

It’s a little bit colder out, but keeping warm in a group has been a social activity since the dawn of time. Show your kids how to build a fire. Don’t recall your Girl or Boy Scout days? It’s quite simple. Lean three or four dry logs against each other, making a teepee shape. Stuff some wadded-up sheets of newspaper into the teepee. Add one or two homemade fire-starters (plain ole’ drier lint), and then lean a few smaller sticks and twigs against the teepee. And presto, you’re ready for some flames.

Find some long sticks and a bag of marshmallows to create endless (and affordable) fall fun.

children's formal clothes

  1. Apple orchards

Orchards connect us to a simpler time. Participate in the old-timey ritual of gathering a harvest by visiting your local orchard. Find an orchard that offers hay rides, a treat for children who haven’t spent much time on a farm. Show them how to pick a good apple, and enjoy the fresh air and smell of ripe fruit while they tire themselves out looking for the prize-winning apple.

At the end of the day, go home to peel some apples and bake the first pie of the season.

  1. Fall Colors

Now that the leaves have fallen form the trees, introduce your kids to what is unquestionably the most fun chore in existence. Raking leaves is the only kind of manual labor that also gives you a) a nice landing pad when things get rowdy, and b) the best hide-and-go seek hiding spot imaginable.

  1. Shop for winter clothes

That wardrobe needs an update, something to keep our spirits up now that the pool is closed and the chill has set in. Everything from bows to suspenders to shoes and socks, not to mention the staple girl’s dresses and formal boy’s suits we’ll need for our classy fall to winter school activity calendar.

Shop our boys’ clothing and our girls clothing for fall and winter looks today.

Back to School Shopping 101

Thursday, August 7th, 2014

It’s back to school! The chalkboard has been wiped clean – get your kid ready for a fresh start, with a fresh look. Maybe school hasn’t always been their favorite subject. Change the topic, and make it all about the school yard catwalk. Sound shallow? Not at all! A good wardrobe teaches many valuable lessons.

Fashion rule #1 – Be prepared!

If your school requires a uniform, get more than one pair of boy’s dress pants, so you’ll always have a backup pair. You never know when those grass stains will sneak up you. You’ll also want to make sure you have enough boys’ dress shirts for formal school occasions.

back to school shopping

Fashion rule #2 – An outfit is only as cute as your shoes.

After a season of running around barefoot, your kids will hardly remember what their feet look like shoes. Give them a pair that shines and sparkles in the September sun. Even if they’re coming home with peanut butter on their faces, at least their feet will always make a good impression. Round out their footwear with a ruffled pair of socks, for an outfit so cute no one will quibble about who finished what summer reading list.

Fashion rule #3 – Change with the temperature.

Make sure you’re prepared for colder temperatures. Stock up on girl’s short and long sleeve sweaters for your daughter to bring on those days when you’re not sure which way the weather will go. When it’s definitely too cold for short sleeve shirts, your son can wear a suit jacket to school events that require a dress code.

Fashion rule #4 – It’s all in the details.

Give your child some back-to-school luck with a small present to go along with their new outfit. Tell them their new necklace or hair bow or belt will give them a little bit of magic to get them through any stress they feel when they get off the school bus.

Fashion rule #5 – New clothes, new attitude.

Get them excited for the upcoming year with a sweet new girl’s dress or boy’s suit. Especially for the first day of school, it’s a good idea to give your kids an extra boost in their confidence with an especially groovy new outfit. Did we say groovy? We meant tight (gotta keep up with the times).

Got a school dance on your calendar? It’s never too soon to start picking out girl’s formal dresses, tiaras, or sharp boy’s suits and ties!

How to Get Your Child to Dress Up – Without Melting Down

Tuesday, July 29th, 2014

For very young children, getting them to wear a new outfit is often as simple as speaking in an excited tone of voice. “Guess what day it is? It’s the day we get to put on your pretty new dress! Yay!” But children get older, and stop seeing eye-to-eye quite as easily. Here are a few ways to minimize tantrums when it’s time to put on that fancy girls dress or boys suit!

girls dresses

Power struggles. It’s not about you, it’s not about the outfit, it’s about who gets to decide. Don’t fall into their trap – there’s no point arguing with that tiny tyrant! Use your superior powers of manipulation to make dress-up time go easier. Reverse psychology is a proven technique.

  • “Well, all the big girls will be dressed up, but if you want to be the only one wearing overalls, I’ll just tell them you’re not old enough to wear a big girl dress yet.”

Send this message loud and clear: Tantrums will get you nowhere! If your child is having a meltdown, do your best not to let them see you get stressed (even if the clock is ticking). You can always do something else. Simply put down the gown and move swiftly to a new activity, like doing some primping of your own. Sometimes disengaging is the only way to assert control over the situation.

  • “Since you’re upset, I’m going to go put on my outfit. Let me know when you feel better.”

Draw their attention to the similarities between a favorite character’s outfit and their new ensemble (a girls pageant dress, for instance). Is your child infatuated with any fairytale character in particular?

  • “I got you a blue dress, just like Anna in Frozen!”

No child is immune to the charms of sweets. In moments of frustration, it’s tempting to respond to your child with threats of time-outs and no TV. Instead, see if the promise of a future treat does the trick.

  • “Instead of fighting, wouldn’t it be more fun it we got to have popsicles later?”

Children learn by imitation. You know, from mortifying experience, that children repeat everything you do and say. Let your son watch Dad tie his tie, while your daughter sticks with Mom while she does her hair and puts on jewelry. Show them your outfit and accessories, and explain how excited you are to put on each part of your outfit. It’s only a matter of time before your children start asking: “Hey! When do I get to dress up?”

5 Tricks to Make Your Baby A Smarty-Pants

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014

Nowadays, you can’t get through a single spin on the merry-go-round without hearing about the latest in overachievement for tots– a toddler DJ class in New York, a yoga class for preschoolers in LA. There’s a lot of pressure on kids to perform these days, at an increasingly young age. Be sure to have a boy’s dress suit or a girl’s dress on hand at all times- who knows when they’ll need to dress to impress.

But anyone can get their kids on the right track, with educational activities designed to prepare toddler brains for the gamut of preschool challenges.

Feeling puzzled?

girls and boys puzzles

Breaking things up and putting them back together is a great way for toddlers to expand their understanding of shapes and colors. You can cut up anything – a drawing, a picture, a couple of dry pasta noodles – and show your toddler how to put them back together. With cut up picture, you’ll have an easy puzzle. Use the pasta noodle fragments to show your child how to create different shapes.

In-and-out

Toddlers are just starting to grasp the concept of objects belonging in a certain place. Now is a great time to start explaining where everything belongs, especially toys. Of course, they might not grasp the concept immediately, but be sure to lavish them with praise when they do put a building block back in the toy chest.

The building blocks to success

Building is a great way to develop your toddler’s sense of spatial relationships. You can use plastic blocks and other toys, but young children are equally fascinated by utilitarian items. (Remember when they ignored the toy and played with packaging instead?). Cardboard boxes are a great way to let those imaginative juices flow. A big enough box could be a rocket ship, a castle, a sail boat, and a great hiding place when it’s almost bedtime.

Introduce the joys of a pillow fort. Use couch cushions and blankets to make a fort. Your child can use the fort for climbing, destroying, and building again. Change a rectangle fort to a triangle teepee, for some practice recognizing shapes.

Mirror, Mirror, on the wall – Who’s the cutest of them all?

Me, that’s who! Mirrors are essential to children learning to distinguish themselves as a distinct person. Babies look in a mirror and think, “Who’s that other baby?” Toddlers are starting to realize that button-nose looks awfully familiar. Put your toddler in front of a mirror and watch as they discover their earliest identity, all by themselves.

8 Picks for Kids’ Game Apps

Monday, July 7th, 2014

You know you can use your smart phone or tablet for just about anything – take a selfie, find the nearest gluten-free restaurant, help you remember the name of that song. It’s also the perfect on-the-go distraction device. Sometimes, your hands have to be on the driving wheel, and not playing peek-a-boo. That can be a stressful time for your child. Luckily, your phone or tablet is there to help. Download a variety of educational apps to keep your children happy, and always learning something new. They’re more affordable than video games, and far better for your children’s expanding craniums.

kids educational apps

PBS Kids offers a huge suite of children’s games, online and in app form. These games cover a wide range, from education to public service announcements. For instance, one game teaches children how antibodies work, taking the mystery out of vaccinations. You can sort the available apps based on your child’s age, what kind of device you own, and which subject you’d like your child to practice.

Math Ninja is extremely popular, thanks to its action-packed series of math challenges. This is one of those games they’ll want to play as their Gameboy. It comes from coolmath-games.com, a great resource for free games that can improve your child’s math skills.

Oregon Trail has truly withstood the test of time. Parents today may remember playing it themselves! Available on iTunes, this game teaches about the history of American pioneers. But your children will probably remember it as the game that taught them about consequences – one bad decision, and you’ve come down with dysentery.

If your kids enjoy Oregon Trail, try Early Jamestown, a free game that lets your children explore the 17th century settlement at Jamestown, Virginia. This is a great introduction to American History. It also comes with extensive reading material and a ton of interactive graphics.

Dr. Frankenstein’s Body Lab introduces older children to biology basics. In Dr. Frankenstein’s laboratory, children will learn to recognize different organs. This fast-paced game has players quickly assemble a body part puzzle.

Mad Libs has a free app for iPhones and iPads. Fill in the blanks to create your own short story. Geared at older children and tweens, this game encourages kids to learn about the different parts of a sentence, often with hilarious results.

For some beginner games, try Endless Alphabet or Match Blitz. These games are designed to help your preschool-aged children learn letters and shapes. Kids love the cute characters in Endless Alphabet, and Match Blitz is perfect for drawing your kids into the action on a long car ride.

These fun games can be perfect distractions so that when your child is dressed to the nines in a girls formal dress or boys dress suit, they are well behaved at fancy events. Let us know what your favorite apps for kids are!

5 Chores for Kids

Monday, June 30th, 2014

During college, there are two types of students: Those who do their own laundry, and those that bring it home, in big sweaty duffels, for Mom to handle. Taking care of your children doesn’t mean cleaning up all their messes. It means fostering a sense of independence, so they are confident in their ability to take care of themselves. Get them started early, so they don’t experience a shocking transition when they leave the nest.

childhood chores

These 5 chores aren’t difficult or dangerous. They build character and foster a sense of self-reliance.

1. Putting the silverware away

Step 1 – Remove the knives! Then, get your little one up on a stool so they can reach the silverware drawer. Hand them the basket of cutlery, fresh out of the dishwasher, and demonstrate how you match the little spoons with the little spoons, the big spoons with the other big spoons, and so on. This is a great task for children working on their shape-recognition.

2. Setting the table

This classic childhood chore gets young children to participate in meal-preparation, great for children too young to trust with the hazards posed by cutting boards and stovetops. You may, of course, lose a few plates in the process. It’s a noble cause, and well-worth the sacrifice. It can also help prepare your children for times when girls formal dresses and boys dress suits are required wear.

3. Dusting and sweeping

These are great chores for sneakily turning into games. Turn on some music and start doing the sweepy dance! Dusting is great for even the youngest children. Make it a scavenger hunt – who can find where all the dust bunnies are hiding?

4. A few easy recipes

Get your kids interested in making their own meals, even before they can do any sophisticated chopping or sautéing. Young children can make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, or toast, or arrange some baby carrots in a lunch box. As soon as they make a few meals for themselves, have them help you with dinner prep. They can stir, shake, assemble, dip, and taste-test their way to lunchtime proficiency.

5. Putting toys away

This is the most basic of requests, and it makes such a big difference! Asking kids to take care of their toys introduces the concept of taking responsibility early in life. If you have more than one child, turn it into a game. Who can put all their toys away the fastest? On your mark, get set, go!

Summer Reading List

Monday, June 30th, 2014

7 Kids’ summer reading list must-haves

Once upon a time, your kids spent a summer learning to appreciate the wireless, battery-free fun of reading a good book in the sunshine. Make sure your kids have a great introduction to the time-honored tradition of the summer reading list. Often, schools provide prizes for a completed list. With this reading selection, the coupon for a free ice cream will be the least of their rewards.

children's summer reading

Ages 4-6

Bob Books by Bobby Lynn Maslen

Bob Books are a great tool for children still learning to sound out words. These simple stories help children sort out the difficult parts of our language – what’s with the “gh” in night? Or the “Th” in the? With Bob Books in hand, your children will be well on their way to reading on their own.

Oh, the Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss

Obviously, any selection from the Dr. Seuss canon is a great choice for young children. Oh, the Places You’ll Go’s popularity spans decades. It encourages exploration, and prepares children for the ups and downs of adventure.

Ages 6-8

Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein and The Random House Book of Poetry

Poetry can quickly become a controversial subject for students. Before they worry about metaphors and similes, introduce them to the joys of meter early. Many of the poems in these anthologies have funny subject matter and clever rhyme schemes. Your children will want to memorize and repeat, paving the way for better memory retention and increased powers of concentration.

Ages 8-10

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnet

The Secret Garden tells the tale of Mary Lennox, a badly behaved girl who has to move away from her life of privilege in India to a lonely, windy house in England. Then she discovers a key to a secret garden, and a new companion. She learns to get along with different people and become a thoughtful friend.

The Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket

If you sense your child is well on their way to developing a sardonic sense of humor, The Series of Unfortunate Events will have them rolling on the floor with laughter. Throughout the adventures of three unfortunate orphans, Snicket introduces lots of new vocabulary words, followed by memorable definitions.

Time Cat by Lloyd Alexander

In one of Lloyd Alexander’s most popular children’s books, a young boy named Jason follows his time-traveling cat to exotic destinations throughout history. This is a great way to spark interest in a wide variety of cultures, from Ancient Egypt to the American colonies.

Happy reading! These are all great books for your son or daughter to enjoy, wearing one of our girls everyday dresses or boys white dress shirts in the summer sun!

Affordable Summer Activities

Tuesday, June 24th, 2014

In fits of summertime budgeting, parents have resorted to desperate measures, aiming hoses at children in sandboxes to replicate beachside fun, without the expensive road trip. If your children have access to the internet, they’ll be hard to convince to “use their imagination.”

Don’t resort to cheap tricks. Try some activities that are actually fun and naturally inexpensive.

girls summer dresses

Amateur Zoology & Botany

Get your children a small net. In the daytime, chase around some butterflies or other insects (bees not recommended). Let your children get an up-close look at the patterns on their wings. In the evening, get a jar and use fireflies to make temporary lanterns. Help your kids learn to treat their captives gently, and return them to the wild in good condition.

Create an art project using pencil rubbings of the plant life near your house. Simply place a piece of paper on top of a leaf, or against a piece of bark, and gently rub a pencil back and forth to capture the shape and texture of the specimens. Make it a challenge to see who can collect the most samples.

Professional Water Warriors

Their uniforms are swim trunks, and their tactics are ruthless. They are the water balloon brigade. If you have a hose, you have a battlefield. Instead of a pricey (and breakable) armory of water guns, you can get balloons at the dollar store for next to nothing.

In case your children are more peace-loving, forego the water balloon battle and create a whole new species of squishy friends, using markers to draw faces on the balloons. Extend the lifespans of your inflatable pets by filling up the kiddie pool to create a watery habitat.

Easy Freezy, Lemon Squeez-y

It’s always a valuable lesson to show kids how easy it is to make normally store-bought goods at home. For way less expense than a visit to the ice cream truck, stick some Popsicle sticks in ice-cube trays filled with lemonade and pop them in the freezer. In about an hour you’ll have healthy, frozen snacks.

Quality Time

If you live in a hot climate, some days are too scorching for young children to play outside, no matter how many layers of sunblock you apply and re-apply. Instead of plopping them in front of the TV or a video game, ask them to help you run some virtual errands. Wedding season is upon us, so make sure your children have plenty of formal wear. Your girls will ooh and aah over the collections of pretty summer dresses, and your boys can help you pick out their favorite color for a spiffy new tie or a new set of boys dress shirts.

 

Vacationing with Kids

Monday, June 9th, 2014

“Are we there yet?” This question has echoed down the aisles of many a mini-van, for as long as we can remember. It is a question that has, to our knowledge, never once been met with the desired answer.

summer girls dresses

Family vacations are an important bonding experience for the family unit. Nothing establishes (or maybe tests?) your familial ties like sitting in a car for hours on end. It can be tempting to let them play hand-held video games the whole trip. But spending quality time together on long road trips can be a positive experience, one that your children will look back on fondly.

Years of research and threatening to turn the car around have yielded the following nuggets of wisdom for creating a fun family road trip.

1. Pack like a champ

If you’re traveling to a formal event, plan ahead to make sure the clothes stay presentable. The last thing you want is to put your boy in a wrinkled dress suit, or brainstorm ways to unflatten a bow on your daughter’s girls formal dress. See if you can fit their outfits in a garment bag along with yours. Or improvise – a hanger draped with a garbage bag works just as well.

2. Get those wiggles out

Whenever you make a pit-stop, take the opportunity to make sure everyone does at least 100 jumping jacks. Ok, there’s no magic number, but it doesn’t hurt to set a goal. The more energy they use up, the less they’ll be able to put into kicking the back of your seat.

3. Get lost in a book

Don’t expect to everyone to read a book the entire trip! Besides the limited attention span of younger travelers, car-sickness is never a cute look. But if you’re a family of readers, the written word can be one of the many weapons in your arsenal. Audio books, especially with an entertaining voice-actor, can provide enriching, (maybe even educational!) road-trip entertainment.

4. Car sing-a-longs

A word of caution: Consider carefully before you introduce “This is the song that never ends.” Children tend to take it as a challenge.

5. I spy…

Don’t dismiss the power of the road-trip game. They can kill an astonishing amount of time, especially if you can muster up enough enthusiasm. Yes, you might use up every last bit of pep from that last cup of coffee, but if you can manage to get your kids excited about spotting a license plate from each of the 50 states, you’ll have transformed a boring car trip into an important mission.

For even more excitement, up the ante: Whoever wins gets to decide where we stop for ice cream!


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