THE SKINNY ON KIDS' CLOTHES

I get asked a lot about kid clothes. How many clothes do our kids have? How do I store outgrown or out-of-season things? How do I organize their dressers? How much is too much (or too little?) Listen, I am NOT an expert on kids' clothes, minimalism or organization (or anything, for that matter!) But I DO think we keep things pretty simple when it comes to our kids' wardrobes, and I thought I'd just go ahead and write a post about it to refer people back to :)

Our house is, by the average American standard, small. We have two bedrooms and one teeny bathroom. Just two (very small) closets in the whole house. I am constantly evaluating and re-evaluating our storage systems to make sure we're being as efficient as possible. When it comes to kid clothes, we've gotten it down to a pretty good system. We try to do one load of laundry every day - wash, fold, put away - to stay on top of it. This allows us to keep the amount of clothing to a minimum.

Each kid has one dresser for all of their stuff. For Xavier, that includes diapers and wipes, miscellaneous things, and all the crib sheets (we have four sheets and four mattress pads since we have two cribs - the sheets are the same for both kids so it's easy to swap them out!) Zelie's dresser also includes her diapers and wipes, blankets, swaddles and sleep sacks and basically everything that belongs to her. In fact, each kid has just one drawer that holds most of their clothes! I HIGHLY recommend drawer organizers for keeping things neat and tidy. I love the SKUBB boxes from IKEA, and expandable drawer dividers like these. Cardboard boxes will also do in a pinch (and you'll see some in these photos!)

Here's what Xavier's drawer looks like (his pajamas and socks live in a second drawer below). On the left, short sleeve and long sleeve tees. On the right, all his pants (sweatpants, jeans, dress pants).

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And here are Zelie's two drawers. I added notes so you can see how I organize everything.

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Xavier also has a few things hanging in his closet - a nice sweater and collared shirt, his football jersey and warmer jackets. They each have a few coats/warm layers hanging on a peg rack in Xavier's room, and Xavier's shoes and hats/gloves/outside gear lives in a separate spot (along with the rest of our hats/gloves/warm gear).

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The key is keeping the amount of clothing to as few things as possible. Xavier has about 12 shirts (a mix of short and long sleeve) and 10 or so pairs of pants. He also has four pair of pajamas, a handful of socks, house slippers, tennis shoes, rain boots and winter boots. I do need to get him a nice pair of dress shoes, but the times I need him to wear anything nicer than tennis shoes are few and far between. He has a winter coat and a couple of sweatshirts/fleece for playing outside.

Zelie has around 20 onesies (a mix of short and long sleeve and sleeveless) and 12 pair of pants. She also has a couple of t-shirts, a couple dresses/rompers, and 6-8 zipper jammies. She also has a warm "wookie suit" for walks and going outside, and a couple of sweaters/jackets for layering.

As much as I'm tempted by all the cute baby and toddler clothes, I'm doing my best to keep it super simple. I love little boys dressed like tiny little men in skinny jeans and cardigans, and swoon over all the sweet baby bloomers, bonnets and adorable baby dresses, but that's just not realistic for our budget OR our life. I don't have time to think that much about my own outfits, much less my kids'.

I use the capsule wardrobe mentality for the kids just like I do for myself. You'll notice that all of Xavier's stuff sticks to a pretty generic color palette. It's super easy to mix and match tops and bottoms. I plan to keep up this system so that as he gets older, it's really easy for him to pick out his own outfits.

Zelie's wardrobe is similar - lots of solid onesies and solid or cute floral pants. To be honest, she hangs out in zipper jammies most days, because it's super easy for diaper changes and I don't have to change her clothes before she naps. I stick a bow on her head and that makes it feel like more of an outfit. I don't keep any sleepers that snap all the way up, because I hate snaps. And I also don't buy or keep anything that requires ironing or steaming after washing. I bought an ADORABLE Janie + Jack romper for Zelie at a consignment shop - it had this big white bow on the front and was so cute. But one laundry cycle later, I realized the bow would need to be ironed to look presentable, and that's an automatic no-go. Into the donation bin it went. Ease and convenience is the name of the game here, people!

I have to constantly remind myself that I'm not trying to win any style awards when it comes to my kids, and that a happy and sane mama is much better than picture-perfect outfits.

For storing clothes, I throw everything in clear, labeled bins and store them in our attic. I put several sizes in each bin - like newborn - 6 mo in one, 6-9 mo through 18mo in another, etc. I separate boy, girl and gender neutral things, that way I don't have to dig through EVERYthing to find the right stuff for the next babe. And I don't mess around with sorting out seasonal stuff. If a bathing suit is 6 mo size, it goes in the 6 mo bin. If my next baby is in 6 mo clothes in the middle of winter, so be it. The bathing suit goes back in the attic. There IS such a thing as over-organizing, and ain't nobody got time for that. But a good thing to mention here is to buy baby clothes that can easily be used for all seasons. Zelie wears a sleeveless onesie under thinner sleepers for an extra layer. Onesies + pants can easily be layered up to be warmer, or babies can go pants-less to be cool in the summer. I generally stay away from super seasonal pieces, because we hope to have a few more kids and I want to get the MOST bang for my buck and have the clothes be able to be used again and again, regardless of what season baby is born in.

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And in general, I don't "stock up" on clothes during end-of-season sales. I think if your kids are older, this is easier, but babies grow so fast (and so irregularly, thanks to growth spurts) that it's hard to tell if a 12mo coat or an 18mo coat will fit them the following winter. In general, we just buy when the kids need things, buy secondhand as much as possible, and then try our best with our budget to buy ethically from there. Colored Organics, Primary.com, Tea Collection and Wildy Co. are great ethical options!

So tell me, do you have any more kid clothes hacks? Any favorite ways to store them or tips for keeping things simple and streamlined? I'd love to hear, and hope this was helpful for any of you mamas buried under kid clothes. This time of year is perfect for simplifying and paring down - cheering you on as we all try to live simpler, more joyful lives! XO!

the care and keeping of houseplants

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Helllooooo and happy Monday!! I am so excited to bring you a verrrrry important guest today - my mama! My mom is a total green thumb and has taught me everything I know about houseplants. She so graciously agreed to write up this post - let's call it "houseplants 101" and it has everything you need to know to get started with some plant babies!

HOUSEPLANTS 101

"My interest and love of house plants started when I was a teenager. My mom definitely had a green thumb and passed along her love for all things living to me. When I was in about the 8th grade, I asked her if I could have a few houseplants for my bedroom. I had two sets of windows, one facing north and one facing west. She had a lot of plants but let me “start” a couple spider plants. You have all seen spider plants; they are sometimes all green but usually are green and white striped and when healthy put off these “babies” which are little plants all on their own that you just snip off and either let root a little bit in a jar of water or you can just plant them directly after cutting. Anyway, that was my first plant and one I still highly recommend starting with!

I learned most of what I know about plants from my mom and also the Hyponex Handbook of Houseplants (mine is copyright 1975). According to that font of information, there are four things you need to get right for each kind of plant:

  1. Temperature - you are NEVER going to get a tropical plant to grow well in a New York apartment in the winter that you keep at 65 degrees. This kind of goes hand and hand with humidity below. You probably also would not get Cacti to do well in a steamy bathroom sill.
  2. Humidity - most people know what this is but humidity is basically how much water is in the air. In places where there is forced air heat in the winter, you should mist your plants daily or run a humidifier near them for a part of every day. Incidentally, most of what’s good for houseplants is also good for people! Don’t get too freaked out about this. Even if you do nothing about humidity, your plants will do fine, they just won’t be as awesome as they could be. If you do want to mist them, just use a dollar store spray bottle, fill with tap water and give about 3 or 4 sprays to each plant so that all sides get a little squirt.
  3. Watering – It is my opinion that more plants are killed by overwatering than under. Most plants say “evenly moist” which I have learned means putting about a cup or two of water on them about once a week. Obviously if you have something in a very small pot, you would only need ¼ to ½ a cup. I also many, many times water thoroughly but every other week or so. When you are first starting out, you might want to use a batter bowl to water with. You know the thing that you make pancake batter with that pours? It has measurements on the side so you can see how much you are really using. If the plant has good drainage, you are wanting some water to come all the way through and fill the tray but not overflow it.
  4. Light – Full sun is what it says: is the plant sitting where the sun is striking it directly? This is mostly cacti and succulents. Also, Valerie says I should tell you that full sun is always a south facing window without a shade tree outside blocking the light. Some sun is full sun for part of the day or dappled full sun. Maybe a southeast, east, or southwest facing window. This light is good for most flowering plants and variegated plants (plants that are green and white or dark green/light green). Almost all houseplants will do well in this type of light. Semi-shady/shady – this would be in front of a north facing window. It never gets direct sunlight but gets a good amount of what is called “bright light” so think sitting under an awning. You are never in the full sun but you can still get a tan or even burnt because of the reflective light. The shady part would be a north window with a tree so that you really aren’t even getting “bright light.” Most foliage plants that are dark green do well in this type of light. Also, “bright light” can mean a few feet from a south facing window. So again, use the awning analogy above. Dark corners – This is the last type of light listed in the Hyponex book and is only good for plants called Aspidistra (“Cast Iron” plant); Snake plant and Pothos.

If you want to get started, I would try the following plants which in my experience are very hardy and easy to keep alive:

  • Peace Lily – good for semi-shady areas (almost anywhere in your house except direct sun). It likes to be watered to even a moist level but if you forget and let it dry out a bit, it will not die. It will just go totally drooping on you but after one good watering will perk right back up.
  • Snake plant – virtually impossible to kill. It does well in dark corners, looks awesome and does not need much water. In fact the only way I have ever known to kill one is to overwater it!
  • Pothos – this is the plant that you see in restaurants and offices that most people call philodendron. It has green and white leaves and looks great whether it is a tiny plant on your desk or a giant hanging basket. It can take a fair amount of abuse (either over or under watering) and likes just about any kind of light. It does well in restaurants and offices because it can use light bulb and fluorescent light well.
  • Spider plant – this plant also looks great, gives you new plants For Free (!) and does well almost anywhere just like Pothos. If it doesn’t make you feel like you are at your grandma’s house too much, I highly recommend trying one!

So there you have it! My mom is my houseplant idol and I am always calling her with questions. Whenever I post a photo on Instagram that includes houseplants and get the question, "how do you keep so many plants alive?" The answer is always "my mom!"

Thanks, mom, for sharing your wealth of knowledge with us! Xo!

gift guide for your wheels-obsessed, energetic, curious and helpful toddler

Xavier turns TWO in just over a week, which feels impossible. Wasn't he just my teeny, squishy newborn!? Time will forever be a mystery to me. One thing I DO love about him getting older is how his personality continues to develop and we see more of his likes and dislikes every day. This year it's been really fun to pick out birthday gifts for him, feeling like we know him as his own individual person and what things he'll get excited about. Spoiler alert: basically anything with wheels. I put together a fun little gift guide for anyone else that might have a wheels-obsessed, energetic, curious and helpful little guy (or gal!) in their life. I can't wait for Xavier to open the gifts I picked out and see his eyes light up. Parenthood is so. much. fun!

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Wooden triangle car. This village set is also adorable.

Child-sized corn broom. You're like, a broom!? But this kid loves sweeping. I've tried to trick him with hand brooms so he can "help" me sweep, but he ALWAYS wants the real-live big broom. I'm hoping this one fits the bill!

Magnetic fishing set. (Note: we have several Soopsori brand wooden toys, and they hold up well to the rough-and-tumble toddler play!)

Durable recycling truck, with slots to put things in and a back gate that actually opens!

Rainstick, for making fun sounds and experimenting with music.

A sweet little set of construction vehicles, with parts and pieces that really move! Xavier is going to love the excavator.

Retro-looking balance bike, as a stepping stone to a dirtbike (just kidding, Matt.) We decided to save this for Christmas (does it get more classic than a bike by the tree with a big red bow on top?) and I can't wait for him to get it!

Schleich wild animal set - perfect for practicing those animal sounds he loves.

A cozy rocking hammock for him to snuggle up and read books.

Sweet little desk where he can get creative any time he wants.

Adorable leather playmat for driving his cars and trucks.

Classic red wheelbarrow perfect for little hands.

I can't wait for Xavier to open the gifts I picked out and see his eyes light up. Parenthood is so. much. fun!