Friday, May 24, 2019

Five on Friday - The Top 5 Best Shoes for Kids

*This post may contain affiliate links, which means at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through or make a purchase.

After eight years of having kids, I feel like I’m pretty knowledgeable when it comes to shoes for both boys and girls.  I love fashion, so the overall look of the shoes I purchase for my kids always plays a factor, but support and comfort are obviously always the most important factors. 

We have tried many brands throughout the years, and now that the kids are 7 (almost 8) and 5, I feel like we have a good handle on the shoe situation.  One thing I have learned about shoes for kids is that you pay for what you get, and it is totally worth the extra money to buy quality shoes instead of the trendy (but oh so adorable) ones from Old Navy or Target or wherever.  We have settled on our favorites and today I’m going to share my favorite five brands with you.   

O N E – Natives

Native Shoes are number one on this list because they are number one in my heart.  These. are. the. best. shoes.  I cannot rave about them enough.  For starters, they are the MOST comfortable shoes of all time (I know firsthand because I own a pair myself)… you literally feel like you’re walking on a cloud and your feet never tire even after hours of walking or running around.  Second of all, they are easy to slide on, so any child can put them on unassisted.  Third, they go on quickly, so they’re awesome for times when you need to get out the door in a hurry.  Nobody wants to fool with shoe laces when they’re in a hurry.  Fourth, you can wear them anywhere – in the rain and in the mud – and they hose right off if they get dirty.  Finally, they hold up SO well. 

These shoes are for boys and girls of all ages, adults included.  They won’t rub blisters on your feet, they don’t make your feet stink, and you can even size up slightly to get a few extra months out of them for your growing children.  Jacob has had his first pair for a year now, and he’s going to be able to continue wearing them this year.  And they still look almost brand new.  I’m thinking he will get about two years out of them total.  Olivia’s feet grew a ton this past year, so she outgrew her first pair in about a year, so we just purchased her second pair.

These shoes come in every color of the rainbow, they come in glitter versions, and they come in print versions as well.  They go with any kind of outfit – casual, beachy, pants, shorts, dresses, and our kids even wear theirs to church.  They are worth every single penny.  Mark my words and buy a pair!

We bought Olivia her first pair of Saltwater Sandals last year after one of my friends raved about them.  Olivia has been wearing hers for a whole year now, and she’ll be able to wear the same pair this summer as well.  Saltwater sandals are super comfortable, they don’t rub on your heels, and you can wear them everywhere.  Olivia has worn hers a ton and they still look brand new.  One of my friends told me they hold up so well, that she can save her older daughter’s to pass down to her younger daughter.  Again, you can size up a bit to get extra wear out of them for your growing kids.  They make these for adults as well, and I’m told they’re awesome, so they’re on my wish list, too!

T H R E E – Nikes

Our kids wear uniforms to school so they have to wear tennis shoes to school.  When it comes to tennis shoes, Nike has been my favorite brand since I was young.  Everyone in our family wears Nikes.  They always have the best color combinations for the kids, and they also have the versions that you don’t have to lace up and tie.  Again, it’s amazing to have a shoe that your kids can just slip on in a hurry!

Both of our kids love theirs and wear them every single day to school.  And they hold up so well that both of our kids’ Nikes last the entire school year.  I always hear about people having to buy new tennis shoes for their kids halfway through the school year because their first pairs are so banged up, but we just don’t ever have that problem with Nikes!  They are just so darn reliable.  Pink ones here and grey ones here.

F O U R – Stride Rites

When Jacob was a baby I can remember wondering what in the world you’re supposed to put on a baby’s feet when they first start walking.  I was completely clueless.  Thank goodness for Jacob’s daycare teacher for giving us the best advice on that subject!  Without her we would have been lost.

For the teeny tiny kids who are just learning to walk, I cannot stress enough just how perfect the Stride Rite Shoes are!!!!  Jacob was a very late walker and at fourteen months he was still just crawling and not even attempting to walk.  His teacher at daycare told us that she thought the reason he wasn’t walking was because his ankles didn’t have enough support (because he was soooo fat and couldn’t hold himself up – LOL) and she suggested buying the Stride Rite Shoes, specifically the Elliot Bootie.  I kid you not, within a couple of weeks of putting those on his feet, he finally started standing unassisted, and he took his first steps just shy of fifteen months.

We kept those on his feet for a good year before finally making the switch to something with less support.  And we loved them so much that we took Olivia to get fitted for her first pair at just eleven months.  She took her first steps just a couple of weeks later just shy of her first birthday.  :o) 

I saved both of their first pairs of these as keepsakes since they took their first steps in them.  I can’t wait to give them their keepsake capsules and let them see them one day.  :o)

And Stride Rite has tons of other styles of shoes that also offer lots of support for young walkers.  

You can find the Elliot Bootie in white here and the Elliot Bootie in brown here.  They also come in black.

F I V E – Old Navy Flip Flops

And finally, every kid needs a good pair of flip flops to wear to the beach or pool.  Our favorite place for those?  Old Navy!  They’ve always been known for their flip flops because they come in lots of cute colors and designs and they’re dirt cheap.  Like, $1-$4 per pair.  Our kids get a new pair of these at the start of every summer and they use them on our beach trips, for swimming lessons, and playing in the splash pad, etc. 

You can find the the floral flip flops here and the American flag flip flops here.  :o)

And those are our fave five!  What are your favorites?  Do you like any other brands that I didn’t list here? 

*Linking up with A Liz Adventures and Carolina Charm for Five on Friday, A Little Bit of Everything for Friday FavoritesMeet @ the Barre for Friday Favorites, and By BMG for High Five for Friday.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Father’s Day Gift Idea - A Favorite Things Gift Basket

*This post may contain affiliate links, which means at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through or make a purchase.

Father’s Day is right around the corner so it’s time to start thinking about getting something special for all of the fathers in your life!  Brian, my Dad, and my father-in-law are all very, very hard to buy for, so I tend to struggle at finding gifts for them.

Last year, I decided that instead of trying to find a gift for Brian, I would just make a basket of a bunch of his favorite things instead.  You can’t really go wrong with that, right?

We rarely buy lottery tickets, but B and I do love to gift them to each other and receive them as gifts, too.  We just know that one day we’re gonna hit the big one.  ;o)  I decided to make the lotto tickets the main focal point for this basket, so I arranged those in a nice little spray to stick out of the basket.  The easiest way to display those is to add a piece of floral foam to the bottom of the basket, tape the lotto tickets to some wooden skewers, and then stick the skewers into the floral foam into the bottom of your basket.

Funny story, the day I arranged this basket, I realized I didn’t have any floral foam like I thought I did, so I was desperate, and I used a couple of oranges and a banana in place of the floral foam.  Whatever works, right?  Lol.

Anyway, in addition to the lottery tickets, I also included a couple of bags of B’s favorite candies (Snickers and Peanut Butter M&Ms), a couple of new craft beers for us to try (I get him new beers for pretty much every special occasion… he has a beer cap map and we’re always looking for new caps to add to it), as well as some coins from the bank.  B collects coins, especially all of the state quarters, so sometimes I just go to the bank and buy some rolled coins to include with his gifts.  He loves to look through them and find new ones to add to his coin books.

Here are some more ideas for items to include in a favorite things basket for the dudes:

Lottery Tickets
Mini Liquor Bottles
$5 Dairy Queen gift cards so he can treat himself to a Blizzard

And the list goes on! 

This could also easily be adapted for the ladies, too…

A few ideas:

Lottery Tickets
Hand sanitizer

So many possibilities, y'all!  And the best part is that most of the items can be found on Amazon with that free two-day shipping!  And all the mommas said AMEN!  

Happy Wednesday!

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Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Our Weekend - The One with Olivia’s First Ballet Recital and Providence Canyon

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Whew, what a weekend!  We now officially have soccer and dance behind us for the season and it feels so good! 

Friday evening, Olivia had rehearsal for her big ballet and tap recital on Sunday.  We rushed home right after school, had snacks, and started getting her ready.  She had to be at the theater in full makeup and hair by 5, so I was stressing a little bit.  I may have long hair, but I’ve never been good at styling hair and I have been worrying nonstop for months about being responsible for her ballet bun for her production.  I am just terrible at hair stuff.  Well, I bought this kit from Amazon (Mommas with little ballerinas... GET THIS!  It has everything you need to make the perfect ballerina bun!), watched a YouTube video, and I’ll be danged if her bun didn’t come out AWESOME.  I was tooting my horn all night.  Haha.

We made it to the theater right on time, got settled in, and then B came and grabbed Jacob so he didn’t have to suffer through hours of rehearsals.  

Olivia’s dance school has students from age 3 all the way through high school, so their production each year is HUGE.  It’s held at the biggest theater in town, and it usually sells out since they open the box office to the public.  This year, they put on Cinderella, plus they had a tribute to the last 50 years of music and dance since they are celebrating their 50th anniversary this year.  The show has one intermission and runs a little over three hours from start to finish.  Whew.  It’s a long one.  Therefore, the rehearsals can run verrrry long. 

Fortunately, both of Olivia’s numbers were before intermission this year, so we only ended up staying for about three hours.  And since this production is open to the general public each year, they don’t allow parents to take pictures or videos during the actual productions, so we had to do all of our picture-taking and videoing during rehearsals.  Some of our friends from school go to the same dance school so we sat with them while we were waiting to get started, and they filled us in about how the evening was going to go.

For rehearsals the moms were able to go backstage to get the girls ready for their tap number as well as get them changed into their second costume for their ballet number.  Then on show day they had a “room mom” who had to get them into their ballet costumes since they didn’t want all of the parents coming and going a lot and disrupting the audience during the actual production.

Olivia was in Acts 5 and 16, so we were shown to our dressing room early in the evening.  I got her changed into her “Bluebird” costume for her tap number and she was ready to go!  Once the girls had been lead towards the stage area, all of us moms were able to go back out into the theater to film them and take pictures.  They were absolutely precious.  Since they’re all four and five years old, naturally, they all forgot some of their moves and steps at times, but Olivia did so great overall.  I was BEAMING with pride.  They tapped to Rockin’ Robin and it was just the cutest thing.  (She's third from the left on stage in the picture below.)

Once her tap number was over, all of us moms rushed back to the dressing room to get our little ladies ready for their ballet performance.  Ballet is where Olivia really shines, and she was thrilled to finally get to wear her ballet costume on stage.  For her ballet performance, she was a “Sunbeam” (she kept calling it a submarine.  LOL) and she danced to “Here Comes the Sun” by The Beatles.  She did so great again and wasn’t the least bit worried or shy about being on stage.  She is not her mother’s child.  Haha.

Once she had rehearsed her part, we were allowed to leave, so she and I headed straight for the Chick-Fil-A drive through because we were both starving.  By then it was already after 8 PM and we’re used to eating dinner at 6ish, so it was way overdue.  My parents just so happened to be leaving Cracker Barrel next door, so we pulled in the parking lot at CFA because Olivia wanted them to see her “pretty hair and makeup.”  Good Lawd, that child was just as excited about getting to wear makeup as she was getting on stage!

Olivia was starving so she ate in the car on the way home, and we were back home by 8:30 to join the boys who were finishing up watching one of the Star Wars movies.  Snooooze.  Hehe.

B and I ended the evening with Blizzards from DQ that he and Jacob had picked up earlier in the evening, and we watched a couple of episodes of Big Little Lies. 

Saturday we had planned to take a little road trip to Providence Canyon, and fortunately, it was a beautiful day, so we hit the road bright and early to beat the heat.  I had never been to Providence Canyon so I didn’t know what to expect, but since I have been to the Grand Canyon, my expectations were pretty low. 

We ended up walking/hiking for a good two hours taking in all of the views, and it was pretty neat despite the fact that I had already seen the Grand Canyon.  The kids found a playground since it’s in a state park, so we stopped there for snacks and to let them play for a bit, and then we finished our walk/hike.

After we left the canyon, we ate a late lunch at Panera, and then we headed home to have a couple of hours of downtime before church.

We headed to our usual 5:30 mass, followed by dinner at one of our favorite pubs with my mom, dad, grandmother, aunt, and uncle, and then B and I watched two more episodes of Big Little Lies.  It’s getting really good now and I’m hooked!

Sunday was bussssy because it was recital day… the day that Olivia has literally been waiting on for ten months!  Seriously, she has probably asked about 100 times since August when she was going to be able to dance on the stage.  Not even exaggerating.  Lol.

I was up slightly earlier than usual to make homemade waffles with girly sprinkles for the girl of the day, and then I was off to get ready and pick up flowers to give to our tiny dancer after her performance. 

We all choked down a super fast lunch, and then it was time to see if I could duplicate Olivia’s awesome ballet bun or to realize it had all been a fluke the first time.  I’m happy to say, I did just as great of a job on Sunday, and it took less time the second time around!  I guess practice does really make perfect, eh?  And I guess I need to start doing her hair like that more often now. 

After hair and makeup, we gathered our 500 bags of stuff and headed to the theater.  Olivia and I had to be dropped off at the back stage door and then B and Jacob went in through the public entrance to go find seats for us.  I told Olivia she was a VIP for the day since she got to enter through the stage door.  ;o)  We also had to stop by the step and repeat for some pictures there, too.  :o)

We were the first ones in our dressing room, so she and I took a few pictures together and then it was time to get her into her bluebird costume.  All of the other girls from her class came trickling in shortly after, and her teacher and teacher’s assistant both came by to drop off the sweetest little goodies for the girls and to tell them good luck.  Her head teacher and the teaching assistant were both in the production, too, so they weren’t able to stay.

All of us moms got the girls ready and then we helped them practice, and then it was time to say goodbye and head to our seats.  Our room mom ended up being super late arriving, so I finally made it to my seat only about two minutes before show time.  EEKS! 

The production was fabulous – all of the details were perfect – and the kids all did a great job.  Olivia’s class is one of the youngest classes, so when they came out, the audience all starting oohing and aahing about how tiny they were.  And when a few of the girls struggled with their steps and waved to their mommas and made up their own dances everyone started cracking up.  It was just the cutest thing!  Olivia did really great and I had tears in my eyes the entire time.  I am just so proud of her!

I had worried about not being able to be the one to get her into her ballet costume, but the room mom did a great job!  She was wearing all of the correct items and her hair stayed in place.  #Whew  And all of the girls were just darling for their second act as sunbeams.

Once her ballet performance was over, I snuck out to go grab her from the back, as they wanted all of the moms to come and get them since they were done for the production.  By the time I got to her, she was already back in her street clothes, and we packed up her little ballet bag and headed back to the audience together.  She was able to watch the next hour and a half of the production with us and she was just enamored the entire time.

At intermission, we all went out in the lobby so she could say hello to all of her grandparents who had come to watch her.  We gave her flowers and took pictures, and we all told her what a great job she did.  There was still another 45 minutes in the production after intermission, but Olivia was exhausted, so we all decided to go ahead and make our exit.  We’ll get a professional DVD of the whole thing, so we can see what we missed when that arrives.

By the time we left, it was dinner time, so we let the girl of the hour pick the restaurant, and she chose Mexican – LOL.  What else?  So my parents and the four of us headed to our favorite Mexican place near our house for margs and cheese dip and tacos.  Yum yum. 

Sunday evening, B and I crashed on the couch to watch American Idol (and later, Game of Thrones, for him) and I was soooo mad that Alejandro didn’t win Idol!  It’s probably best for him that he didn’t, though, because now he’ll have the freedom to make whatever kind of album he wants and not have to adhere to American Idol’s rules.  And I’ll be the first person in line to buy it!!!!  Seriously, he is so incredibly talented.

It was just the best weekend and as fun as it was, I’m also incredibly relieved to have it all behind us.  Only 3.5 more days AND WE’RE OUT OF SCHOOL FOR THE SUMMER! 

Happy Tuesday, y’all!