One Girl's Summer Capsule Wardrobe

First things first, you should ALL know what a capsule wardrobe is, but if for some tragic reason you do not, read up on my favorite style blog, Un-Fancy.

Basically, a capsule wardrobe is a set of clothing that can all be interchanged and work well together, reducing the number of items in your wardrobe. (I.e. you don't have that one shirt that goes with that one pair of pants.) I've been using a "loose" capsule for myself for a while mainly because I love neutrals and I tend to buy everything in black, brown, gray or if I'm feeling daring, blue.  I got really interested in capsule wardrobes a couple of years ago after I read The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. My little family strives to be environmentalists and also minimalists, and while we miss the mark on both, we keep trying. The problem is, I love clothes.  I also REALLY love kids clothes. I can over buy a kid's wardrobe in about 5 minutes, complete with accessories.  This isn't good for my savings account, my house, the planet, or my kids.  The twins are becoming very particular about what they wear and so I no longer have the authority when they come down the stairs in a red shirt and green pants to break it to them that those are Christmas colors and ask them to pick something else.  They began refusing, so now I let them wear the garish outfits, because what the hell, who am I to stifle their self expression?  I then curse myself for spending too much on a wardrobe that only looks put together 25% of the time.

Enter the capsule wardrobe -

I've been trying for a couple of years to get all my kids into capsule wardrobes.  I wanted to make everything easier and also be able to buy less clothes but higher quality. Bonus, they can get dressed by themselves and have a pretty good chance of matching.  Easier and less expensive while also being better for the environment while also maybe matching most days is enough for me to try this.  The first mistake I made was trying to do all three kids' wardrobes at once.  If you have multiple kids, don't try to fix their wardrobes all at once, it's too much to keep track of. Mistake number 2 was not keeping good track of what we already had, and that's mainly because at any given time, around 3/4 of their wardrobes were in the laundry.  I'm slowly getting more organized and finding more time to get laundry done. I also do laundry almost every day now instead of saving it up.  This has helped a ton.

Anyways, as I was getting out the summer clothes from last year, I noticed that Georgia had practically nothing.  She shot up a bit over the year and her shorts were looking like hot pants so I saw an opportunity to try for the capsule again.  At first I considered doing all three kids, but the boys both have a million tee shirts and some shorts left over from last year, so I decided to just fill their wardrobes in with neutrals and primary colors and call it a day.  I guess they are still kind of capsules, but not in the true sense. For the record, Henry has his own opinions on his clothes and wants nothing to do with this experiment.

First, you should know that I like nice clothes.  One, they look nice, and I'm a visual, creative type, so this pleases me.  Two, I like my kids to be comfortable and that usually means nice thick cottons that don't pill.  Three, and most importantly, I like to get a lot of use out of something and pass it on. I hate throwing away a shirt because it has holes or donating it because it shrank up into a square belly shirt. Most of the clothing that is donated is not re-sellable and ends up being sold to textile recycling firms.  I won't even bring up the horrible labor conditions that lots of these cheap clothing companies provide their workers.  There is a documentary called The True Cost that you should definitely check out if you are addicted to fast fashion, or aren't convinced buying cheap clothing is bad for the world.

Long story short, I prefer quality over quantity.  Also know that we are not the Rockefellers so I have to be creative.

Ok, so let's talk about Georgia's first capsule wardrobe. I follow a lot of mom fashion blogger types on Instagram and I stumbled upon Wildly a year or so ago and immediately fell in love.  It's a mom run company that sells full capsule wardrobes and the pieces are all made in the US!  Plus they are cute little hipster-y clothes and that is right up my alley. Unfortunately, there were two downsides. One was cost.  Quality isn't cheap, and I fully recognize the need to charge enough to pay workers a living wage and to pay for good materials, but the capsules wouldn't really be full capsules for us since I decided I wanted kids capsules to be a week's worth of clothes. The "full" capsules are around $229, so I'd be over $300 for one kid, one season, maybe closer to $400 considering shoes, swim suits, miscellaneous accessories. I considered that I would need to spend a bit more than I usually do, but a lot of the pieces could carry into Fall, so I looked into them anyways. However, there was another problem, their summer capsules aren't out yet!  I know we technically have until the end of June until summer starts, but shorts weather starts at the end of May here. Plus I needed time to try sizes since Georgia is a string bean.  I had to rule out Wildly this go round, but I'm hoping to try them in the Fall. I may order a couple of sale pieces so I can check out the sizing and quality.  If you can wait, I'm betting their capsules will be adorable this summer. If anyone tries them out, let me know!

Next I remembered a company called Primary that I had seen all over Facebook. They make basics in a rainbow of colors and they are all under $25.  Their clothes are not made in the US but they seem to use good manufacturing practices. I took their word for it on their website and did not do my due diligence because they seem like a trustworthy company.  I don't know, don't trust me with large sums of money or anything.  

So first things first for capsule wardrobes, you need a color palette. Georgia picked yellow, (her favorite color), aqua and pink.  We didn't end up with much pink because we kept picking out everything in yellow and "pool."

Second, decide on how many pieces you need.  I decided to start I wanted 8 days worth of clothes. A week and an extra day.  I do laundry more often than that but just in case.  There are some moms that say their kids can re-wear their clothes a couple of times.  I don't live in that world.  My kids are rough on their clothes and they are outside a lot so we pretty much wash everything besides pajamas after one wear. I am not too sure I have the right amount of clothes for G, but I also didn't put too much pressure on myself to get it exactly right this first time. Plus I stayed within my budget, so I declare this a win. I got lucky and had a 20% off code for Primary, and I think they give it to all first time shoppers so keep your eyes peeled. I purchased 11 pieces for $94!  That's less than $10 a piece and there is a dress and a hoodie in there you guys!  (They have certain items for less money if you buy 3 or more, so of course I did that.) The shipping was free & fast, and the quality of the clothes seems great.  I want to see how it washes but I think I will be ordering more from Primary when we need to fill in. (PS they have a program where you can refer a friend and you both get a free pair of pajamas when the friend completes a purchase. So if you are thinking of ordering, email me and I'll give you my code!)

We purchased almost everything else second hand, which makes me very happy because not only am I getting great brands for less money, but again, it's better for the environment. I shop Poshmark and our local consignment store.  I've purchased great Mini Boden pieces on eBay in the past and I know lots of people who are happy with Thred Up.  I haven't found anything there that my kids need in the brands we like so I can't vouch for them.  I did order a bag to send in some stuff we are done with, so I'll try to order a few things soon and report back.

Finally, onto the wardrobe!

This is not a complete capsule.  The dress at the top isn't really an every day dress, and Georgia asked for a yellow dress like the gray one (from Primary) so I think I'll get her one more. Hopefully the shorts are enough but I will get one more pair if we need them.  She also has a pair of black leggings that I cannot currently locate, but I don't think she will wear the pants much, those are more for transitioning from Spring to Summer.

This is also not a perfect capsule.  The flowered puffy pants and the cute chambray shirt is a carry over from last year that still fits so we are fitting it in.  It's not too hideous with the rest of it, but I wouldn't have bought those pieces if I was starting from scratch and sticking with the color scheme.

  • Solid color items are all from Primary. tank tops / tee shirts / dress / shorts / hoodie
  • Blue and pink dress: Crewcuts; seersucker dress is Land's End, and the polka dot skirt is Mini Boden, all purchased second hand.
  • Shortalls with Hearts: Gap Kids (we have a Banana Republic card and get really great deals.  I never pay more than 60% of retail on anything at Gap and it tends to hold up pretty well.)
  • Harem pants: These were overstock from a children's boutique that ended up at a consignment shop.  Both G and I love them.  The brand is Rag Dolls and Rockets.
  • Chambray shorts: Tea Collection
  • Chambray dotted shirt and flower pants: Tea Collection last summer (I couldn't find anything similar)
  • Girl Power Shirt: Savage Seeds
  • Have fun Every Day shirt (On Georgia) Wildling Kids
  • Yellow striped leggings (On Georgia) Gap kids, purchased second hand

The main brands I buy for my kids are Tea Collection, Zara, Gap Kids, Crewcuts and Mini Boden.  I don't ever pay full price for any of these brands, and the stuff that makes it through a season or two can usually be sold on eBay or Poshmark. They also have nice sales a fewtimes a year so I try to watch for those and stock up on what we need.  There is always a coupon code for Mini Boden (I try to hold out for the 30%!) and Tea Collection often has them as well. These are brands that fit my kids and last at least a season.  Hanna Andersson is a great quality brand, just not really my style and their clothes are not cut for really skinny kids. I'm sad my kids don't really like their pajamas anymore, they have organic pj's that go on super sale a couple of times a year. Janie and Jack has great little girl's swim suits that they clearance out mid summer, and I've also got durable Speedo suits from Costco. I'm always on the look out for USA made quality clothing, and I try to at least make sure the companies we buy from have decent track record on worker rights and their manufacturing process. Some in my list are not the greatest and I am actively trying to shop those brands less and less.

I'd say I get 75% of the kids shoes at Nordstrom Rack, and the other quarter I get from Amazon. We like Keens in the summer, Saltwater sandals for G, and Reef flip flops. (They have the soft toe thong (?) thingy that don't give you blisters.)

Here are a few blogs that helped me figure out how to capsule for kids.

My Kid's Capsule

Wellness Mama

The Minimalist Mom (She's one of my favorite minimalist bloggers)

I think I covered everything.  I obviously love talking about this topic so if you have any questions, either leave a comment or email me, I'm the best at vicariously shopping through others.

Hello 2017

I'm probably the least consistent blogger ever.  I don't even know if people still read blogs, but here I am, feeling the need to put something out on the internet.

 

Our homeschooling year started off pretty rough.  It's the old story of mismanaged expectations, both mine and my children's.  The start of the new year always invigorates me as far as homeschooling goes.  I get REALLY into planning in August, buy a ton of curricula and then by October we are mostly bored of it all.  Then in December I remember that sometimes we do better with more of an unschooly, project-based approach and we switch course for a while.  Hopefully I'll avoid this next August, but old habits die hard. This year seems to be a tidal year, and it's working out pretty well.  The less I expect from the kids, the more creative and wonderful our days are and I remember why we are homeschooling in the first place. 

I guess I'll talk about what is working for us right now and go from there.

Henry LOVED his Scratch workshop through G3 online.  Now that it's over, he's going to embark on a video game console creation.  I can't wait to see what he does. He's getting on great with Life of Fred math this year.  We will need to make an algebra decision this month, and I'm leaning towards Jacobs.  He's accelerated in math but doesn't love it, so I'm not looking for anything overly rigorous even though I hear such good things about the rigorous critical thinking algebra programs out there. Writing was going to be Bravewriter, but he's decided to write a book!  He's at the very very beginning stages of this, so we'll see where it takes him as he gets started.  At 10, I don't expect him to complete a novel, even a chapter would impress me. (Really, a page would suffice!) He switched to piano from double bass this fall and it is turning out to be a really good decision.  He's studying Spanish online and tinkers with biology using Uzinggo. 

 

The twins are liking anything science and art related. This looks like a lot of messes, but also lots of learning. We recently subscribed to the Smithsonian channel and it's so wonderful for learning about animals and earth science.  I started the year with them wanting to be really Classical, and they rebelled in a big way.  You can imagine, I'm sure.  I've been trying to listen and watch for what lights them up, and for Georgia it seems to be science, and Miles is truly a tiny sensitive artist.  I'm nurturing those things in them more and leaving behind all of the "shoulds."  It feels really right.

 

Some of the "Unschooly" materials we are using -

Let's Make Some Great Art

Wreck this Journal

Life of Fred (This is definitely "curricula," but it's not stuffy or dry.)

Jot it Down (Also curricula, also not dry, lots of fun projects for 1-2 grade)

The 50 States Activity book (A great companion to The 50 States picture book.)

Miquon (curricula, but WOW awesome for concrete math)

National Geographic and National Geographic Kids magazines (endless sources of topics to discuss and research! )

Nature Anatomy (in the winter we practice drawing and painting in our nature journals with this book)

The US Congress for Kids

The American Story

Vincent's Starry Night and Other Stories

Animalium

The Smithsonian Animal Book (We are really into animals at the moment!)

 

 

 

We finally "Nature Journaled," and I remembered why I'm doing this in the first place.

I'm guessing only homeschoolers will know what I'm talking about here, so let me tell you about Nature Journaling. Disclaimer: Feel free to fact check this definition, because I'm basically making it up. 

Nature journals originated with Charlotte Mason at the turn of the 20th century.  Its exactly what it sounds like, the recording of what one sees in nature.

I had read about the benefits of nature journaling many times, and it was always something that I would have loved to include in our home school. It didn't ever happen for a few reasons; I was unsure how to implement it, not very confident Henry would agree, and I just plain didn't make it a priority.  I am a pretty creative person, but I was just not making a connection between the idea and the implementation of nature journaling.  Then I found Kristin Rogers, and about a year after that the Wild + Free website.  Wild + Free is a community of homeschooling moms sharing their wisdom in an online magazine.  Kristin generously shares a ton of information and inspiration in the monthly Wild + Free bundles. Her Instagram feed also regularly features the beautiful nature journaling she does with her young girls. 

Since I'm trying to be more relaxed this year, I decided we absolutely had to try this.  I bought the art supplies and the field guides, and this morning, Henry and I headed out on our adventure. 

I hate when people call things magical, because 1. It's cliche, and 2. It's not true.  However, I'm having a really hard time coming up with another way to describe this. 

I mean,

This is Henry's "school."  I couldn't help but feel an enormous sense of gratitude that we stumbled into this crazy, home-education world 4 years ago.  Henry loved it too.  He kept commenting on how quiet it was.  I really need to remember that as loud and overwhelming as this world can be for me, it's that times a million for children.  As I sat there, I couldn't believe we had never done this before.  I grew up living in an apartment until I was 9, but then we moved to a townhouse with lots of outdoor space, and a river to play in.  I am a huge advocate for the power of nature on one's mental state.  Nature and books were my therapy as a child, and while my kids may read a lot, and play outside in our suburban backyard daily, it's just not the same.

 

As Henry finished up his page, I read to him from Treasure Island, and almost laughed at how perfect it all went.  Hooray for lovely mornings with my growing boy. 

 

Book Review // The Conscious Parent

 

I finished The Conscious Parent, by Dr. Shefali Tsabary, this past Sunday. While I'm still letting a lot of it process, I've  already made lots of tweaks to how I talk to, and discipline my kids.  I found it to be so timely to raising kids in the 21st century, and I will not hesitate to recommend it to other parents.  I liked it almost as much as my two favorite parenting books Simplicity Parenting, and Buddhism for Mothers.

The main premise of the book is that as parents we let our ego control how we react to our kids.  In other words, the more we project ourselves onto our kids, the more problems we will have.  Kids need the opportunity to grow, take risks (healthy risks!) and try new things without carrying around our junk in their subconscious.  This might sound really obvious, but I really believe it's something that all parents do, most of the time without realizing it. 

Dr. Tsabary uses anecdotes of her patients, and sometimes her own parenting challenges, to teach parents what it looks like when you are parenting from a place of ego, instead of a place of consciousness.  One of the biggest takeaways from the book is the importance of questioning your motives.  Why are you expecting a certain behavior or result?  Why do you feel anger/disappointment/sadness/etc when your children don't live up to your expectations?  Where are these expectations coming from? 

Many parents and children suffer from relationships that aren't as healthy as they could be.  The sad fact is that the reason is usually pain from our own pasts that are creeping out through our words and actions. The act of stepping back and examining ourselves, can do wonders for our children.  Simply put, work on yourself, and your relationships will blossom.  This. is. huge.  How much more peaceful would the world be if we worked on healing ourselves instead of defecting or compartmentalizing our pain?  The author believes that if we don't address our inner wounds, we will give them to our children and the cycle will continue for generations.  It's easy to think this way in regards to outright abuse, but we don't often think about regular old pain being passed down to our kids.  It's a revolutionary idea.  (To me at least!)

The other main thing Dr. Tsabary stresses though out the book is being present.  I think this is the mantra of our time.  With so much stimulation from tv, computers and phones, it's a wonder we even talk at all.  Our kids need us to be present and engaged, and I do fear that the next generation is going to have legitimate problems in regards to relationships with other human beings.  Even if you aren't a screen addict, we are all busy.  After finishing the book, I recommitted my days to my kids.  It's easy to fill our days with lots of activities, but the fact is, we need stillness every day. So instead of running from place to place, grocery shopping, kids activities, hell, even Starbucks, I am making a concerted effort to slow our roll and connect.

I could write a novel about this book, but you are better off reading the book yourself.  It was a great read, albeit a little dry at times. Sometimes it was a tad repetitive, but I think that was out of necessity.  The points Dr. Shefali Tsabary are strong ones, and we need to be beaten over the head with them. 

 

Why Parenting a Gifted Child is Lonely

(Repost from my old blog)

This is Henry,


Henry is gifted.

Gifted. The word itself is loaded, and confusing. For this post, I’ll go with what I feel to be the most accurate definition of “gifted.” From the National Association for Gifted Children,

“Gifted individuals are those who demonstrate outstanding levels of aptitude (defined as an exceptional ability to reason and learn) or competence (documented performance or achievement in top 10% or rarer) in one or more domains.  Domains include any structured area of activity with its own symbol system (e.g., mathematics, music, language) and/or set of sensorimotor skills (e.g., painting, dance, sports).”

(Some have suggested we drop the word gifted, and adopt other terms like, “asynchronous learner, outstanding talent, or accelerated.”  The very debate about using the word is polarizing and isolating to those of us raising children like this. )

Parenting a gifted child is lonely.

Why is it lonely to raise a gifted child? Well, for starters, we are in the minority.  If you look at that definition from NAGC above, it talks about the top 10%.  (For the sake of this post, I’d like to focus on academically gifted children, because I feel that children gifted in other ways, be it musically or athletically, are a whole other ball of wax so to speak, and perhaps a little less isolated, depending on the circumstances.) For intellectually gifted children, this is measured either by IQ, or achievement testing.  That already excludes 90% of children.   What happens when your child is in the top 5%?  Or top 1%?  Or, like parents of profoundly gifted children, the top .1%?  The higher the IQ, or achievement of the child, the less likely it is for a parent to meet another parent with a similarly developing child.  Hoagies has a great chart that looks at levels of giftedness.  If you have a child who is “moderately gifted,” there is a good chance that you will come across a few people with similarly developing children, and therefor common experiences and challenges.  Once you start moving into the “highly gifted” category, the chances of meeting other parents going through the same things you are starts to greatly decline.  You don’t meet many people who can relate to you as a parent, and since parenting is a tough job anyways, this can be discouraging.  It’s easy to talk about potty training, or sleep problems, but it’s hard to talk about grade skipping, differentiation, and “after schooling” with parents of children who are developing typically for their age.

Another reason it’s lonely being a gifted parent is that we are not generally supported in the public school system.  A lot of us spend our children’s school years being “the squeaky wheel,” advocating for the appropriate placement in the classroom.  Grade acceleration, while usually not the only thing a gifted child needs, is a way to help bridge the gap between what they are able to do, and what they are doing.  However, it’s still widely contested and generally frowned upon in public schools even though there is mounting evidence that it does make a positive difference.   The answer in these days of No Child Left Behind, and Race to the Top, is “differentiation.” With state’s education budgets being slashed, funding for gifted programs is either dwindling or non existent, and usually the first thing cut when the budget is tight.  Many states have laws that schools must identify gifted children, but ironically, many are not required to provide them any services.  There was a time, where gifted kids were in separate classrooms, clustered together and accelerated as needed.  Now they are mostly placed with there typically developing classmates, and either given extra work, or asked to work their fellow students that may need a little help.  For a gifted parent, it can be agonizing to watch the spark go out, and their gifted child lose interest in learning altogether.  Sometimes when a gifted child is bored, they begin to act out and become a behavior problem in school, making it even harder to get the services, or  adjustments to their education they need.  Many parents of gifted children face a long road once their child enters the public school system, and in the process may have to buck the system, sometimes leaving it altogether. We personally have chosen to bypass the advocating and home school for now.  A decision that was heart-wrenching, and debated for over a year.  Most parents I know don’t have these kinds of decisions.  They sign their child up for kindergarten at 5 or 6, and send them to school, no questions asked, and his is not usually the road for parents of gifted, and especially highly gifted children.

The biggest reason I find that being a gifted parent is lonely, is because we aren’t supposed to talk about it.  No one likes a braggart!  One parent of a “normal” (her word) child even wrote an article on babycenter.com about how she is hates hearing about my gifted child.   It’s widely accepted that everyone thinks their child is a genius.  We all also think are children are the cutest, and funniest, and everything else-ist.  This is normal, but there is definitely an expectation that you don’t say any of these things to other people.  I’m not condoning bragging, but what if your child is actually a genius?  For starters, it’s not all appearances on Oprah, and spelling bee wins.  It’s hard.  It’s rocky, and it’s full of doubts and fears.  It’s also amazing, but it isn’t without it’s challenges.  Gifted children are sensitive, and intense, and the further out you get from “normal,” the more magnified their sensitivities and intensities can be.  Highly gifted children share characteristics with Autism, Aspergers, ADHD, and Sensory Processing Disorder to name a few.  Any given day I flip flop between being convinced that my son has all of those and more, and believing that his behaviors are just traits of his giftedness.  It’s hard to explain why he covers his ears for loud noises, or gets really really embarrassed when someone sings out of the blue, so much so that he screams and covers his ears.  He doesn’t like sarcasm, because he lives in a literal world.  He comes across as quite unusual sometimes, but I don’t feel comfortable explaining to most people why.

As I stated above, education alone can drive you mad, let alone all of the other things that come in the “gifted” package, like over excitabilities & perfectionism.  Yet, we don’t really have anyone to talk about these things to.  Either we don’t want to come across as bragging about giftedness, or we just don’t feel like we will be understood.   It’s hard to listen to other parents talk about their children’s achievements, while not wanting to mention ours.  We are all proud of our children’s accomplishments, as we should be, but for me it’s awkward to say what my child is doing, when it’s pretty far out of the normal range of development. We are lucky that our friends and family “get” what we go through with Henry.  They understand that when we talk about what he’s doing, or a challenge we are facing because of his giftedness, it’s not because we want to brag, it’s because we need to talk about it.  They know we aren’t pushing him ahead, or “hothousing” him, this is just who he is.I do hear from other parents that this is not always the case, and that is very disheartening.

I belong to a couple of online forums for home schooling and parenting gifted children, and we talk a lot about the habit we have to downplay our child’s giftedness.  We don’t want to sound like we are bragging, or that we think our child is better than other children, so we make excuses, “oh, he just likes letters,” (That’s why my 3 year old could read.) or, “yeah, he’s crazy,” seemed like a good way to explain why he has the abilities he does.  Or, we mention a weak area of our child’s development to offset the strength.  One time Henry was at a store when he was about 3, and read the title of an article of a magazine.  The cashier made a comment that it was impressive, and I actually said, “that’s okay, he can’t use a fork.”  I cringe as I type that now, I actually said that in front of my child!   I’ve heard this from other gifted parents as well, it’s that we are so concerned with not wanting our child to seem “superior,” that we pretty much insult them in the process.  It’s an internal struggle that most of us solve by just not talking about it.  I’m an over-sharer by nature, but now when a stranger comments on something my son has done or said, I just smile and nod.  I don’t want to feed into the whole, “I think my child is a genius and I can’t stop talking about it” stereotype, and I also don’t want to make Henry feel bad about who he is. So you see, when someone asks me why we home school Henry, I can’t just say “because he’s gifted.”  For starters, it sounds like I’m bragging, and secondly, it means different things to different people, and it’s not always clear to someone why being gifted would prevent a child from doing well in school. I used to blame it on his multiple food allergies, but I didn’t want to send Henry the message that his food allergies are holding him back.  I’ve learned other creative ways to answer that question, like “we like the flexibility of homeschooling,” or  “we were unable to find a good academic fit at school for him.”  But do you see the problem there?  I have to have these answers ready, so as not to offend or come across as smug or elitist.

I think what I would like to convey here, is that most parents of gifted children don’t feel like their children are better than anyone else.  I personally feel that it doesn’t matter much how smart you are, it matters what you do with the opportunities life presents you.  A person’s drive and motivation are going to be the difference between success in life, and failure.  Most, if not all, parents of gifted children are just trying to give their children opportunities be adequately challenged, and intellectually engaged.  I think every child deserves that, and so much more.  With education reform the way it is today, all parents are starting to have these concerns.  Hopefully we can get education to place where every child’s needs are being met, and the gifted rhetoric is no longer so important.

To connect with other parents of gifted children, check out the Davidson Young Scholars forums.