On Saturday I mentioned that we were planning a family outing to a local art museum that was hosting a community day with free admission and activities for children. While I am by no means a fine art connoisseur, I enjoy viewing paintings, sculptures and other art and hope that our daughters will grow up with an appreciation for beautiful things.
Emily Post, perhaps the queen of all things mannerly, said this: “Manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others. If you have that awareness, you have good manners, no matter what fork you use.”
Each Friday I’m going to post a list of five of my favorite “somethings.” For this first edition, I’ve decided to list five of my favorite places to purchase clothes for my girls.
One of the pastimes I enjoy is shopping for cute clothes for our daughters. As I indicated in a post earlier today, in order to make the most of the money I have, I try to sign up for sales alerts and e-mail coupons from any stores that I frequent. Several of my “favorite five” can be rather expensive and I don’t believe I ever pay full price for any items. I also frequent consignment or thrift stores and am sometimes able to find items from the brands I like in great condition and can purchase them there at remarkable savings.
There are certain criteria I look for when purchasing my daughters’ clothes. As I mentioned yesterday, I am trying to teach my girls about modesty. We evaluate potential purchases based on the length of the item, whether or not it is loose-fitting enough, not too sheer and, if it is a sleeveless top, whether it fits closely enough around the arms or could be made okay to wear with a tank top underneath it. Needless to say, this simple evaluation eliminates many an option! Also, both of my girls are slim and many bottoms that are listed as their size will not stay up on their waist. Can I just tell you how much I love items with adjustable waists?!
Next, I want to be sure that the garment is age-appropriate. There could potentially be a piece of clothing that is modest, yet makes my daughter look too old. On the flip side, I also want to be careful that I allow them to dress in a style that doesn’t still make them look as if they’re a toddler. Finally, I want to make sure the garment is of good quality. Since I do have two girls, it’s a wonderful thing if both of them are able to get use out of a piece of clothing.
With all that being said, here are my favorite five clothing stores for girls.
- Mini Boden (Bodenusa.com). While I can only order these online, I think they have cute, stylish clothes that are age appropriate and hold up very well. Some of their items do have adjustable waists.
- The Children’s Place. Again, stylish, quality clothes. Lately they seem to have had a larger selection of dresses and skirts, which my girls love. They have great sales and often issue percent off coupons. I do have to check in frequently if there’s something in particular I’m watching, as they sell out of certain sizes pretty quickly.
- Lands End. Their basic knit dresses are a favorite of ours. They’re easy on and off and are appropriate for any number of occasions. I periodically receive e-mails for free shipping which helps out as I don’t find their things on sale as often. However, I have been fortunate to find several of their dresses at a local consignment store for a very fair price.
- Naartjie. This is another place I can only access online, but they have different looking items that are really cute for matching and layering.
- Belk. I find nice church dresses as well as other items at Belk department store. As I mentioned here, their end-of-season clearance sales offer great bargains.
I have always liked the cuteness factor of Gymboree clothes, but am often hit-or-miss with their sizing; not everything I’ve tried from there fits my girls well. I also occasionally see girls items from Gap that are very nice, but, even with sales, I can’t always find them at a reasonable price.
Do you enjoy shopping for clothes for your children? Let me know in the comments section if you have any recommendations for stores or any great tactics for saving money in this area.
I am one of those adults I’m always telling my girls about, one who wishes they had been more interested in music lessons at a young age. My mom taught me the basics of piano and I took piano lessons my first year in college, but was just never interested enough to put in the time and effort I should have.
Therefore, I resolved that both of our girls would take piano lessons beginning when they were in first grade. Our oldest daughter has been taking for about a year and a half now and I’m so pleased with how she’s doing. My husband loves having piano music in the house and I enjoy hearing the daily progress as she moves from feeling out a song to mastering it.
I am hoping that introducing our children to the discipline and joy of playing an instrument will begin for them a lifelong love and appreciation of music. Whether used for personal enjoyment or as a service to others, music can express a myriad of feelings and reach across many languages. Instilling in our children a love for music is one of the finer things in life.
Visit Amy’s website for Finer Things Friday.
As a brand-new mom over eight years ago, the most helpful book I read was On Becoming Baby Wise: Giving Your Infant the Gift of Nighttime Sleep by Gary Ezzo and Robert Bucknam, M.D. This was the book I turned to over and over again for practical advice on helping my infant sleep, eat and play well.
I’ll say upfront that I understand that not everyone is a “schedule” type person. I know Moms who have great success at just going with the flow, especially as the number of children you have increases. However, I do happen to function at my best when I have at least a skeleton of a plan. Being a first-time parent, it gave me a sense of security to know what to plan for and expect at different times of the day. Therefore, I recommend to others to at least try a schedule, even if it’s just a basic one that includes having meals, naps and bedtime around the same time each day.
One thing I appreciate about Gary Ezzo’s books is that he begins by emphasizing the husband and wife relationship as the most important one in a family. I highly agree. So often, when a baby is added to the marriage, everything in life begins to revolve around the child and his or her needs. While a baby definitely has needs to be met and often requires a lot of attention, especially in the beginning, it is so important to continue to create time and space for the husband and wife to be together. (Speaking of which, a wonderful friend has offered to keep our girls so that John and I can go out on a date Friday night! Yay!)
On Becoming Babywise then moves on to discuss feeding philosophies, concluding the section by recommending parent-directed feeding, in which “baby’s life is guided by a flexible routine.” This leads into the following chapter on babies and sleep. The only way I can judge the recommendations from this chapter is on how they worked for me. Both of my girls were excellent sleepers, sleeping at least six hours straight at night by the time they were between six and eight weeks old. Let me just say that I am one who needs my sleep and what a blessing it was to have them sleeping through the night very early. This chapter also mentions sleep props, one of which could be rocking your baby to sleep. I loved rocking my babies and would occasionally rock them to sleep, but most often rocked them until they were only very drowsy, then put them in their crib to actually fall asleep.
The book proceeds to talk about facts on feeding, another chapter that I found very helpful. I did nurse our girls, but was not one of those moms who love every minute of it and rave about what a wonderful experience it is! I nursed them because I was physically able to, personally felt it to be the healthiest option and, on the practical side, it was the most frugal choice. I understand that not everyone decides to do it that way and certainly respect each mom’s decision.
Chapters six and seven address what your baby’s routine might look like and includes suggested activities for baby’s waketime. If I had errands to run, I normally did those in the mornings as that seemed to be the best time for me and was also when my babies were awake the longest and seemed to be the most content. Chapter eight talks about discerning baby’s different cries, something that it doesn’t take most moms very long to figure out. I had one daughter who, as a baby, went through a stage where she cried for a few minutes each night when I put her in her crib. It was as though she needed that time to let things out, then she went right to sleep.
After a chapter on having multiples (I was able to skip that one!), the book concludes with chapters on problem solving and “parenting potpourri.” Subjects range from baby equipment to pacifiers to teething. I found both of these chapters offered good advice. (There is a final brief chapter on introducing Babywise principles if your baby is a little older.)
I highly recommend reading this book if you are expecting a child or have a new baby. You may not use or agree with everything in the book. I find there are few, if any, books that I read and follow in total. However, I can almost always find something that is applicable to my situation and use it to help me be a better parent.
If we judge the importance of a topic by how many verses the Bible contains about it, certainly the way we communicate with each other must be very important! There are many Scriptures about the way we use our tongue and how we should control our speech. So for this week’s Mannerly Monday, let’s discuss manners we can teach our children as they communicate with others.
- Honesty is the best policy. Children seem to learn to lie at an early age. We had a brief period during which one daughter would tell us things that were an obvious falsehood in spite of the fact that she knew she would be punished for it. Trust among family members and others can only come when there is truth, so this is certainly one of the fundamental rules to establish with our children.
- Think before you speak. Let’s face it – that’s a difficult thing even for adults. Yet how much pain and hurt we can all save ourselves if we will put this into practice.
- Keep your speech free from gossip. In general, don’t say behind someone’s back what you wouldn’t say to their face. Another thing to remember is that if a person talks to you about someone else, chances are good that they will talk about you to someone else.
- Always respond when someone speaks to you. We have our children say “yes/no ma’am” or “yes/no sir.” I also have stressed to the girls that shrugging their shoulders is not a proper way to reply (a pet peeve of mine!)
- Listen with eye contact. My husband has emphasized this with the girls, that they are to look someone in the face when they are talking to them.
- Refrain from proud or boastful speech. Most people are not interested in hearing you talk about yourself.
- Don’t tell secrets in front of others. Similarly, keep from whispering or pointing fingers when you are talking in a group.
When possible, I like to find anecdotes or stories to share with the girls to illustrate these principles. How wonderful it would be if I could model all of these behaviors perfectly for my girls! I continually struggle with controlling my tongue. This is a matter in which I must continually yield to the Holy Spirit.
Do you have other manners you have taught your children in regards to speech? Can you share practical ways to emphasize these ideas with your children?
Pasta is one of our girls’ favorite foods. It doesn’t have to be fancy; last night it was fettucine tossed with olive oil, parmesan cheese and a little salt and pepper. They basically licked the bowl clean. Since Jessica at Life is Mom is holding an “Ultimate Recipe Swap” and this week’s theme is pasta dishes, I thought I’d share one we enjoy here. It was hard to narrow it down; but, since we started out the week with cold temperatures, I was in the “comfort food” frame of mind. Hence, here’s my favorite chicken lasagna recipe.
12 ounces egg noodles
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
4 cups chicken broth
4 cups cubed cooked chicken
3 cups cottage cheese
2 eggs, slightly beaten
8 ounces mozzarella cheese, grated
Parmesan cheese, grated
Cook egg noodles according to package directions; set aside. Melt butter over medium heat in a saucepan; blend in flour, salt and pepper and cook until smooth. Slowly add broth and stir until sauce is thick and bubbly. Stir in chicken; set aside. In separate bowl, combine cottage cheese and eggs; set aside. In 9x13x2 inch baking dish, layer as follows: 1/3 of chicken mixture, 1/2 of cooked egg noodles, 1/2 of cottage cheese mixture, and 1/2 of mozzarella cheese. Repeat layers, ending with chicken mixture. Sprinkle heavily with Parmesan cheese. Bake uncovered for approximately 1 hour at 350 degrees.
[You can also make this ahead and freeze it. When ready to use, thaw for 24 hours in refrigerator and bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 1 to 1 1/2 hours.]
One day soon I’ll share one of our favorite summer pasta recipes! Check out Life as Mom for more great pasta dishes.
So these days, when I have alot of things to get done, I take her tip to heart. I keep moving down my list and try not to sit down until I’m done.
This edition of Teaching Tuesday is about letters. I would encourage you to introduce letters to your child at an early age, but NOT in a formal sense. There are many ways to incorporate the ABC’s into your day and have them become part of your play. Here are a few ideas that I used with our girls when they were very young.
- Read books that are centered around letters. One of my older daughter’s favorite books when she was around two years old was Dr. Seuss’ ABC book. Let’s just say I had it memorized! I have seen many cute books for young children that use letters as a basis for a story. Check these out at the library and read them during your reading time with your child.
- Play with blocks that have letters on them. For her second Christmas, my daughter received a set of very nice wooden blocks from my grandmother. They had letters in color on the sides. While these were great for building, they were also useful in playing other games such as finding letters that were the same and teaching letter names.
- I was able to find foam letter shapes that could be used in the bathtub. Both girls played with these, getting them wet and then sticking them up on the side of the tub. Again, we could name the letters or try to find the letter that started their name.
- One of the neatest things I found was a large rug that had the alphabet printed on it. It was actually decorative and very pretty; we bought it for our older daughter when she was about eighteen months old. In her room, she would play with her toys on it; however, she would also notice the letters and as we were playing on it, we would talk about what the names of the letters were. For some reason, she developed an affinity for the letter Z! It was one of the first letters she learned and she loved to find it in books and point it out.
- Using sidewalk chalk, write some letters on your sidewalk or driveway and see if your child can find a certain letter and jump on it.
- At snack time, form the shape of a letter on a plate with cheerios or another small snack food and see if they can name the letter.
These are just a few fun things we did together in an informal way to introduce the girls to letters. I’d love to hear ideas you may have used in this area with your children!