Category Archives: baby clothes

Three Fun and Fabulous Finds

Last weekend, I attempted to be an uber cool, multicultural mother and take baby to a Finnish puppet show that was being put on as part of D.C.’s Euro Kids Festival. Like a well-behaved parent, I pre-registered for the event and then tucked myself in early so I could get up on a Saturday at 6:30am to make sure everyone got showered, dressed, and fed (or in my case caffeinated) before hitting the metro by 9am. Despite my greatest efforts, it was a complete failure.

We arrived 15 minutes early, anticipating a crowd, which there was, only to be told that the show had already started. Apparently, the time had been incorrectly posted on the Web site. And despite there being empty seats, the puppeteer had asked that no one be admitted late, so we were turned away. Seems to me that it might have made more sense for the folks who arrived early to wait rather than the folks who were arriving later thanks to a misprint miss the whole show, but what do I know about these things. I assure you that there were a number of meltdowns as the children were informed that the Lapland puppet show was no longer in the cards.

Fortunately the show was taking place at the Capitol Hill Arts Workshop, which is just a few blocks from wonderful Eastern Market. It’s been ages since I’d been to the market, which most often gets passed over by tourists for the more well known sights. But in my book, it’s one of the most fun, “locals” thing to do in our nation’s capital. The quality of the crafts and wares are quite good–there’s always furniture I want to buy–the food hall is an utterly delicious throwback, and the neighbor itself is teeming with cute shops and nice brunch spots, especially when the weather is cooperative.

As I was checking out the various vendors, there were three from which any mom would have trouble resisting an impulse buy:

No strings attached puppets. I was a mom on a mission for puppets, so when I couldn’t get the Finnish kind, I opted for the finger variety. I remembered buying some of these a few years ago for a few of my nieces and nephews, but I had totally forgotten about them. They’re all handmade and some of the little detailing, especially on the sheep and the (or least what I think is a) llama, is so sweet. (From left to right, I bought a sheep, horse, zebra, pig, and llama.) About the only bargain I could get from the seller was if I bought 10 (at $2/a puppet), he’d give me one for free. I figured they’d make great wee one gifts sooner or later.

Classic wheels. Well, to be more accurate, it was actually labeled an SUV, which made me crack a half a smile. But these vehicles are big, blocky, bright, and well built. (Really, you wouldn’t believe how nicely they roll.) And the little people that pop in and out are too cute. The guy selling them tried to give me a line of bologna about how there’s a Montessori ethic behind the design; supposedly as kids learn to pull out the people, they’re unknowingly practicing to hold a pencil. Seems a bit of stretch, but, hey, whatever sells. The variety of vehicles was fairly wide, as well; in addition to SUVs, there were cars, helicopters, dump trucks, and even a super adorable whale that wee ones could drag behind them by a string. And the value was decent. I only bought one, so it was $7, but that still was a pretty good deal. I love Fat Brain Toys, but the most similar wooden car the company offered was retailing at $17.

New and oh-so-necessary nursery decor. I saw these modern yet crafty pillows and immediately wanted to design a nursery based on the Mirasa‘s color palette. The colors–squash, tangerine, sage, and turquoise–are wonderfully warm and sunny yet soft and make for cheery combinations when paired. Plus the design sensibility while contemporary still maintains a childhood charm. Love, love, love these products, all of which are handmade in India out of organic cotton. And the bonus: The onesies are just as adorable as the pillows. I just wished my wee one was still wee enough to wear them.

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Becoming a Fashion Forward (Or At Least Not So Behind) Momma

This post on a friend’s Facebook page about Diane von Furstenburg collaborating with Gap to produce some limited-edition GapKids must-haves for wee ones reminded me of a post I have been meaning to write for some time.

At one of my baby showers (one of the only blessings that come with divorced families), a nice friend gave me this book called Baby Steps: A Little Handbook for Happy Parenting. Rule No. 3 in the book was: Yes, the baby will dress better than you for awhile.

I remember laughing at reading that at first. But then something happened and I almost took it as a challenge.

I have never been really concerned with fashion. Sure, I want to look good. But for years, I have been a believer in basics. Accessorize black, white, gray, or tan with some fun earrings, funky jewelry, and/or cute shoes and you are all good. It makes perfectly logical sense except that what you don’t realize (especially when on a budget) is that, year to year, your clothes never change–and quite possibly neither do you. I started to realize this in college when, as a joke, my roommate outlined my wardrobe–a black long-sleeve turtleneck for winter, a black short-sleeve turtleneck for spring, and a black sleeveless turtleneck for summer.

Point taken. And while in my post-graduate years, I took this all into consideration, I’m not really sure I made many significant strides. I actually hated skinny jeans until I realized that they were way easier to tuck into riding-style boots, which is one trend I absolutely adored. (Still do.) But cargo skinnies? No way. Gladiator sandals? Definitely a little too bold. Flat t-straps were okay, but the big-heeled version seemed a little excessive. And fancy shorts? Not a chance. Who  (other than celebrities) can get away with wearing silk shorts out to a bar or club anyway?

I still cared about looking current, but I didn’t really care about being trendy. In fact, I was willing to forgo trends for my own style comfort. But then came baby.

Ever since my little bundle of boy arrived, I’ve been so more interested in what clothes I’m wearing than I ever was. (Ever.) I don’t need expensive, designer duds, but suddenly I do want things that at least look trendy even if they come from Target. I will admit that one of the first things I bought for fun once I lost my baby weight was a pair of gray skinny cargo pants. (A lesson in never say never.)

But I’ve bought also sorts of crazy stuff in the past year because it was hot, cool, trendy, or fun. (By definition that would mean it also would totally qualify as impractical as a new mom. I think I might be taking “Pregnant in Heels” to a new level.) Yes, I actually bought a gorgeous pair of grey suede, over-the-knee, chunk-heeled boots this past fall. I don’t doubt that I made a statement when I wore them to my first French mommy group.

Similarly my last two shoe purchases for summer were as follows (the one on the left is Nine West and the on the right is Franco Sarto):

These gladiators were made for strollin'...

Not the greatest picture, but also arguably not the greatest selection, if you are talking about heel height versus functionality when it comes to lugging car seats or diaper bags or chasing children around. But, at the time, I felt that I needed (and deserved) them, so I bought them. (I still feel justified.)

I mentioned this sudden new-found interest or commitment or whatever you can call it in fashion–or at least trends, because who am I kidding, I don’t dare spend my husband’s hard-earned deployment money on essentially a label–to a couple of other mommy friends recently and found I wasn’t alone. Many of them were feeling the same, like they needed to make an extra effort to look good anytime they went somewhere other than the grocery store or gym. Showering was no longer just enough; we needed to have the whole package together. It’s like a passive-aggressive refusal among new moms to fit the stereotypical image of a new mom.

I say this, but I certainly don’t mean that women like me are trying to forget or hide that we are moms. I mean, we’re all cool with being a mom and having a lifestyle as a mom. I think the question is, do we need to wear t-shirts, khaki shorts, and flip flops or sneakers (or worse, Crocs) everyday? Hells no!

The only unfortunate part to this new sense of fashion daring for mommies like me is that we don’t have all that many places to go. The options are seriously limited–grocery store, Target, gym, church, work, and anything else pretty much is extra effort that may or may not require a babysitter. So while I’m buying these cute wardrobe goodies, I’m not really putting them through their courses for a night out on the town or anything. (In this sense, I actually look forward to meetings at the office because it means that I can get semi dressed up.)

But I buy the clothes anyway, despite some of its impracticality–I also recently bought a black, silk tulip skirt, which totally qualifies–because it’s really the only way I feel connected to the normal world. I’m so busy chasing, cleaning, feeding, bathing, and putting to bed that I barely have time to turn on the TV or answer e-mails, much less keep up with the all the latest happenings from around the globe. (That totally sucks, especially for a journalist by trade, to be constantly behind the power curve when it comes to knowing what’s going on in the world.) So, wearing something that looks sort of trendy is almost like a last stretch to stay connected with everything around me.

Maybe it sounds completely shallow. And maybe it is. But I completely feel more human and more together as an urban momma when I’m pushing my stroller wearing gladiator wedge sandals.

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Bananas for Baby Boutiques

I’m obsessed with baby boutiques. I can’t bear to walk past one and not go in, even if you can tell by the window display that it’s a not-so-good one. In fact, I think my new dream job is owning and running a successful (that being a key word) baby boutique in some charming town or neighborhood–and I have zero retail experience.

But all the same, I like to look at the way different owners stock, merchandise, and decorate. I make mental notes and file them away in my head for the next time I’ll need a fun and creative idea or solution of my own. And do I need to mention how off-the-charts cute some of the outfits are? Beautiful fabrics, sweet stitching detail, unique and modern designs.

But the one thing I notice over and over again is that even in the most beautiful or unusual baby boutiques, you’d better hope you’re shopping for a little girl because your selection of cute stuff is going to be more limited for little boys. I guess in a way I can see why; sweet dresses in gorgeous patterns with ribbons, lace, or other dainty details are by their nature more magnetic than say a pair of overalls or a jumper. But all the same, it seems as though mommies should be able to choose from something more than cargo pants and jeans for their little bundles of boys.

So, when I go into baby shops, I play a little game with myself and go in search of the cutest or cleverest outfit I can find for a little boy. If I find more than one, I consider it the measure of an exceptional baby shop. So, here’s what I dug up during my last trip to South Carolina, where I got a chance to pop into some shops in both Charleston and Beaufort.

sugar snap pea/charleston, s.c.
When it comes to baby boutiques, it’s all about the window display. And the one at sugar snap pea worked it’s charm and instantly pulled me and my mother-in-law inside. And if that didn’t do it, I fell in love with the “Stroller Parking” sign next to two parking meters painted on the wall.

The way I would describe the shop would be to say that if you’re a mommy who loves the aden + anais brand, you know the company that makes all those very sheer, breathable muslim baby sleepers and swaddlers, you’d fall

Romper by Feather Baby

in love with this store. You could feel good about buying anything in the store because not only was it cute but nearly everything in there, from the bath towels to the wooden toys, had some sustainable twist.

Of course, none of this stuff comes cheap, as is the case in most baby boutiques. However, I decided if I was going to splurge and make a purchase, I probably would’ve chosen something from the selection of either Egg Baby or Feather Baby lines. I’m naturally drawn to bold prints, so I like the graphic nature of the clothing and I love that it is oh so soft as well.

T-shirt by Egg Baby

But the thing I think I like best is that while the clothes are what I would call cool and hip, they are age appropriate designs. That’s sort of a big thing for me because in my book, babies are supposed to look like babies, not Mini Mes.

The one drawback is that, unfortunately, the Egg Baby Web site does none of its clothing justice, as what I saw (and pawed) in the store was much more interesting than what they’re advertising online.

kids on king/charleston, s.c.
I would imagine that this is one of the go-to places in Charleston to get more formal clothes for wee ones who might be making a guest appearance at a wedding or fancy holiday party. I could hardly believe the selection of seersucker suits and shorts, linen rompers, retro baby bubble suits, and the like. The store also carried the requisite knee socks and saddle shoes. Of course these are all things my husband made me swear that I would never make our kid wear but that I am now eying given that my sister is getting married in August. (Lucky for me that this place ships!)

Once again, the shop’s Web site doesn’t do its inventory much justice, but I

Shortalls by Bailey Boys (side 1)

just want to make a note of one particularly clever outfit that I came across as I was fingering the racks. Given my love of stripes, dots, and checks, I was immediately drawn to a few racks of gingham shortalls, all from a variety of companies–Zuccini, Glorimont, Bailey Boys, etc. They came in a whole bunch of colors and had sweet embroidered designs on them–crabs, sailboats, trains, etc. I picked one up only to love it more when I realized it was reversible.

For someone who travels a lot with a baby and , therefore, agonizes over every thing that goes into the suitcase, a two-in-one outfit is pure genius. Not only is it space conscious, but it also makes that

Shortalls by Bailey Boys (side 2)

$50+ price tag seem more palatable knowing it’s really two outfits and not just one for the price.

My favorite was definitely the green gingham check with the trains that reversed to a red gingham check with a submarine by the Bailey Boys. I’m not sure you how trains and subs go together, but either side would be so adorable on a baby boy that I guess it doesn’t matter.

doodlebugs/ beaufort, s.c.
This was an unexpected stop during a coffee-and-bagel break in downtown Beaufort, but I’m glad I went in because the shop had some cute things, especially for girls. In fact, there wasn’t a lot I wouldn’t have bought if I had a little girl. But the selection for baby boys was narrow to say the least. At one point, I pulled out a cute t-shirt with cars on it and was looking for something to go with it, such as some shorts or a light sweater. My choices were rainbow or rainbow. I even asked the salesgirl if she thought the items were a little too un-boyish in her opinion. “I wouldn’t buy that for a boy, I don’t think. Especially the cardigan,” she say. Okay, then, I won’t.

But as I was walking out of the store, a small triangle of green gingham caught my eye and I walked over to it. There I found an adorable shortall–or romper or jon jon or jumper or whatever else anyone calls it–with a small alligator embroidered on the chest and two big green button along the beltline, almost sailor style. The tag said it was a Baxter and Beatrice product, but I’ve had a hard time locating it online. But for as much as I loved it, the largest size they had was 12 months and that just won’t do for baby; he’s just growing too fast.

So, while my boutique browsing led to no purchases, it was fun to look and see what’s out there. And it was good to find out that I have a few go-to sources if baby needs that seersucker suit and saddle shoes for the wedding after all.

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Baby, It’s Cold Outside

In my pre-mommy days, when temperatures plunged like they have in D.C. lately, I always wondered why moms would be so silly or stupid or selfish (or maybe a combination of all three) to bother taking their babies out in the stroller, making them endure the below-freezing temps. I mean, why wouldn’t they just stay home where it’s nice and warm and not bother trying to wedge the kid into a snowsuit?

Not only that, but weather shields–you know, those cheap plastic covers that slide over the whole stroller–were soooo tacky.

Now that I’m actually a mom, my perspective has done a 180. First, I don’t let weather stop me. If I’ve committed to doing something or being somewhere, we’re going–rain or shine, heatwave or snow flurries. (The obvious exceptions being a blizzard or tornado or something.) My reasoning is that for however inconvenient the weather is on the day I’m supposed to go somewhere, with my luck, it’ll be worse on the day that I try to reschedule.

Because we live in downtown D.C., going somewhere more often than not involves the stroller. Consequently, the tacky weather shield has been my best friend. It only took one morning of getting caught in a torrential downpour, where I had to wait in the Target lobby for 45 minutes for the rain to subside, to make me never forget it again.

In the winter, on 20-degree days like today, the challenge is to figure out how to keep baby warm when he’s prone to losing booties and blankets. So, I’ve been checking out other moms to see how they’ve tackled the challenge. Some go for the super puffy snowsuit, throw on a hat and maybe some boots and it’s all good to go. Others opt for what I like to call stroller sleeping bags, basically sacks that essentially fit around the stroller to insulate baby. But then, there are always the old school hold-outs, who live for this option:

That's one way to keep baby warm

I’m not sure exactly where I am in the spectrum. Baby started out the winter in a fleece one-piece snowsuit, but by the beginning of January it wouldn’t zip on him despite that it was sized for a 12-month-old. Then, I went for just dressing him only in fleece pants and sweatshirts and then throwing on his fleece jacket, a hat, and some booties and then covering him with a fleece blanket. But then the dog destroyed all the booties.

So, on frigid mornings like this one, about the best I can do is put as many clothes as I can on him, throw on an extra blanket, put down the weather shield, and walk really fast. Like this:

My bundled up bundle of boy

 

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Bootie Call: The Sequel

My dog has a real problem. He likes to eat baby socks. And there’s nothing worse than going on poop patrol in the backyard and finding my kid’s socks.

After all, I paid perfectly good money for those darn socks and there’s no way he’s wearing them out as an 8-month-old non-crawler. I’m so incensed by the whole process that there is some whisper in my brain that tells me that I could possibly wash the sock and it would be fine. Sadly, I’ll woman-up and tell you that I unknowingly tried it once after the dog pooped in his crate; I can tell you with certainty that nothing is ever the same once eaten by a Doberman.

But it’s like a fetish for this dog. Case in point was last night. The nanny drops the baby off around 6ish. It’s time for some chow, so in the high chair the little man goes, looking so darn cute in his gray-and-red-stripe-knit romper and coordinating fleece booties. (By the way, I love, love, love these booties, which I picked up on sale for $2.99 at Old Navy.) Baby is happy and smiling as I prepare him a meal of warmed rice cereal, boob milk, and canned organic chicken and stars, courtesy of a wonderful mommy friend who graciously left this can of delectables at our house because her bambino wouldn’t eat them.

Out of nowhere, he starts screaming. My first thought is that his teeth must be bothering him. But I look over and he doesn’t have his index finger in his mouth, which is the usual sign. I see the dark shadow of a nearly 6-month-old Dobie skirt amongst the table legs, but I don’t really think much of it because when the dog has something he shouldn’t, he makes a big production so that I will fall for his ruses and chase him around the house.

For the record, I don’t; instead I head for the cookie jar and immediately the dog brings me the contraband, drops it at my feet, and waits with the softest of eyes for his treat. Now, the question I have is am I any less “trained” by the dog than the owner that chases him around? I think not.

That’s really neither here nor there. Baby must just be teething or possibly (gasp!) getting that horrible thing that’s going around where babies end up absolutely miserable with 103-degree temps.

But the crying stops rather quickly, so my worry-o-meter drops to zero and I continue fixing le dîner for my friend, Jess, who by the way is a rock star for helping me tame my unruly basement for an afternoon. I start setting the table and as I walk around it, I notice a tuft of something on the ground. I pick it up; as it was unidentifiable, I chucked it into the garbage. I turn another corner of the table and I see another something. This time instead of a tuft, I see more of a swatch. A nice, gray, fleece swatch.

Damnit it, dog!

Yes, my beast of a dog managed to steal a bootie that was still on his foot, maul it, and toss it by the wayside in what could be all of two minutes. And I’m talking that this thing is un-salvageable. Check it out:

The latest victim

I assure you that on the first day of February, when the city is preparing for a so-called “thunder-snow,” having to throw away the perfectly-good, matching pair to this beat-up bootie was no fun. It seems so cruel to allow my child to chill out in his stroller for hours on end in the chilly weather with nothing on his feet but thin, cheap socks from Target. The booties were a strategic protective layer no more.

The simple answer would be to go out and buy another pair. But I swear to you that shopping for winterware for infants past December is a challenge. My kid’s already outgrown his snowsuit; that happened in December and I still haven’t found one that will fit him. (I improvise by putting a regular pair of pants on him with another pair of currently-too-large sweatpants over the top.) At this stage, I think there will be no more booties for the boy this year. And how sad that is. Here is the epithet I would give them:

02.02.11
R.I.P. Gray Booties
You had sole.

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Bootie Call

I don’t know what it is with my kid’s right foot and socks. No matter when, where, or what kind of sock I put on his right foot, within minutes (if not seconds) it’s off. Sometimes before I can even get the other sock on the other foot.

This is of course a worrisome trend now that it’s winter.

My mom bought baby some fun booties from Old Navy that I thought for sure would solve the problem. They’re not only cute, but warmer, longer, and heavier than a regular sock, so I figured they’d be harder to kick off. Just perfect for those chilly December days in D.C. when a snowsuit seems like overkill.

So, the other morning I was feeling particularly motivated, so I packed up baby in his stroller and headed off to the gym. Baby was looking super cute in his fuzzy winter coat, polar bear hat, fleece pants, and booties. For added comfort, I had tucked a blanket in tight around baby’s thunder thighs. Paranoid that he’d be cold or that we’d have a bootie casualty, I stopped at nearly every corner and re-tucked the blanket.  A block and a half from the gym, I stuck my hand under the blanket to be sure I felt two booties.

Well, I must have been imagining things because as I undressed baby at the gym, the pudgy piggies on his right foot were bare as could be.

Cinderella Man

I hate to admit that something as simple as a missing sock could ruffle my feathers, but I was seriously annoyed. Hadn’t I made a super human effort to make sure the sock specifically did not go missing? And what were the chances of me finding it again? And darn, they were really, really cute.

So, after my workout, I headed down the elevator to the Target to buy baby some more socks. I had already been there to stock up on socks earlier in the week, so I definitely was irritated to be spending more money on stuff I already bought. But the thought of baby’s little digits feeling a little nip on the stroller ride home made me decide to splurge on a few more pairs. Of course, within the course of my running in and out of the store, three people stopped me to tell me my baby was missing a bootie, leaving me feeling like an inadequate mother despite the fact that I was standing there with three pairs of socks in my hand.

But the problem was solved and we were rolling back home. On a whim I decided to retrace my steps. And in true fairy tale fashion, I saw this:

What are the chances?

I can’t tell you how irrationally psyched I was to have found the long lost bootie. I mean, it’s a sock, after all. But somehow I felt victorious, as if I had outsmarted the universe. It was out to get me–and steal my baby’s bootie, no less–but I had not only persevered but triumphed.

At least for the day.

 

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