Sunday, January 15, 2017

From Sportswear to Almost Sport Coats

"Yes, buddy - they are as comfortable as I can find them. And at 9 p.m. you can lose the bow tie," I assured our seven-year old, who was throwing a pre-pubescent tantrum over having to dress for wedding.

If your boys are anything like mine (and perhaps some girls too!), their closet is full of Under Armour , Nike and Adidas with hardly a hint of denim or chino in sight. And forget anything with buttons, tags or a touch of structure or polish. Which  makes dressing for things like school pictures, programs, fancier dinners or weddings a challenge.

Learning from my past mistakes, I started the hunt a bit earlier, particularly since the holidays had passed and nicer clothes were all on sale. The big one could be conned into a button down and nicer pants with hardly a fight, where the bow tie would take some major convincing. But hey, it was easier than bringing up the word "layering" or "putting product in your hair."

The little one is sensitive to clothing (buttons, zippers, tags, anything that sags - you name it), so this one called for bribery on top of thoughtful purchases of his top and bottom. And the shoes? Forget it. There's only one particular pair of New Balance in his life.

Here's where we landed:
Big one: comfortable bow tie from Dillards with a no-iron white shirt and chinos from Gap. Couple that with a pair of new Converse and he was set. We didn't require a belt or nicer socks. Verdict: he felt mostly comfortable, shirt was out halfway through and the bowtie made it almost thought he entire evening. Success.
Little one: we'd been working the shirt angle for nearly a month, pulling it out of the closet and bribing away, letting him feel the buttons and choose how he'd wear the sleeves. Surprisingly enough it went right on sans undershirt and wasn't a problem the entire night. The pants were an awesome find: UnderArmour toddler golf pants from Dillards. He didn't even notice they weren't his regular basketball pants as they were super soft and easy to slide around in. Adjustable with a forgiving button, these were amazing. And with a shirt over the top of it, they looked almost identical to dress pants. The toddler Converse were a challenge, but the width, two velcro and color worked great once he got over the stress of it. Success.

Mom borrowed a dress from her boss that was classic and comfortable for carrying 35 pounds around on the dance floor, while Daddy splurged on a new tie and pocket square. Also success.
If your boys are anywhere as tricky to go from sportswear to sport coat, here's some tips to try:

1. Start talking about it early: people like to know what's expected of them. For the anxious ones, assure them others will be dressed the same, so their spiffiness will not be noticed.
2. Use bribes: late bed time, extra books, more time with friends or a sucker.
3. Choose your battles: build you foundation around what they must wear - a nicer shirt and pants - vs. going full hog on adding the belt, coat, slick shoes, etc.
4. Try a spiffier version of their usual: if your kiddo lives in tennis shoes, try just a new pair or doing Converse. If it's basketball pants they live in, choose a fancier sport pant that looks more presentable, but feels just as comfortable.
5. As the party loosens up, so can the clothing: during the reception, near the end of a dinner, let that shirt untuck and the bow tie come off. They'll have more fun and feel more like themselves. By then the women have ditched their heels and men their coats anyway.
6. Invest less or borrow: it won't be often your boy will have to dress this way and by the next round, he'll probably have outgrown it. Shop the sales or borrow from his friends for the event. And if he wears the same button down to every "fancy" event, so be it.
7. Sing their praises: after the event, let them know how much you appreciate them looking nice and ask them how they felt in the clothes. Just because it's expected, doesn't always make it easy for kiddos who have "thoughts" on clothes.

Even better, try to "recover" with a jammie day the next day. They'll thank you.

Then, hang those clothes up they look so adorable in and think to yourself, "I deserve a glass of wine," and slip into your own version of comfy pants. It will be all kinds of happiness.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

What We're Reading

 "Ok buddy what would you like for your three books this evening?" I asked, tossing away his towel to reveal a set of warm, fresh jammies.

For the three-year old, it's always the same:

Spiderman vs. Doc Oc: packed full of adventure, borderline too-old concepts so he can be like his  brother, and superheroes. Perfection.

 Llama Llama Time to Share: the scene where two toddlers get into it over a lovey and the arm comes off?! The ideal amount of drama to make bedtime interesting.

Mickey's Halloween: a lift-the-flap book full of fun that keeps his favorite holiday alive all year long.

The older one likes to mix it up, choosing only chapter books these days, reaching a page goal, then diving into a new one. On his nightstand:
  1. Big Nate box set: a fun mix of conversation bubbles and boy talk, he shares little excerpts as he silently reads. 
  2. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets: enjoying them because the older kids do, we take turns reading the pages and pairing the movies on the weekends. 
  3. The Thirteen-Story Treehouse: is goofy and fun, filled with boy humor and things you'd never really get away with at home or school. It reminds me of how much he loved several of his imaginative books when he was younger, all telling the story of building and living in elaborate structures. 
When it's after 11 p.m. and bed calls, it's rare the Mister and I can keep our eyes open to catch a few words, but when we do, we're usually hooked on something about personal growth or bestseller list. Right now I'm digging into:
  1. Carry On, Warrior: a series of the famous Glennon Doyle Melton of, filled with stories that encourage you to be brave, kind and imperfect. Most leave me with smiles, some with tears and almost all of them include something I can identify with on a daily basis.
  2. A Dog's Purpose: the cover of this one caught my eye in a bookstore jaunt recently after almost losing our girl. Couple that with the movie coming out and you have an emotional, heart-warming read that reminds you to cherish your pup and the day's memories.
  3. Radical Acceptance: with 2016 being a year full of surprises, this book calms my spirit and quiets the questions that sometimes resonate in my heart at the end of each day. It's not as light hearted, but just as moving and a strong reminder to be grateful. 
On the Mister's side, you'll find:
  1. Outliers: a book on what makes high achievers tick.
  2. Raising Men: because he's always striving to be the best father.
  3. Basic Economics: since his next financial exam is always right around the corner.
What pages are you turning these days?

Sunday, January 8, 2017

The Four-Pronged Approach to a New Year

"I don't know, the power of just one word isn't settling well with me," I said to my husband, looking only half-interested as I began the vicious cycle of self-improvement and purging in the New Year.

Hours earlier I sat, a gold-framed chalkboard cradled in my lap, as I tried to bribe the three boys surrounding me to share their wishes for 2017. Things like "for my little brother to cry less" and to "be the world's fastest Dorito eater" were wearing me thin, so I took matters into my own hands.

Shortly after midnight, the sound of fireworks popping outside our new doors and each boy snoozing sound in their place, I thought of what I would strive for in the new year. The previous one had been a jarring one, with world events weighing heavily on our hearts and such significant, surprising changes for our family, it had left us broken and frozen for months at a time. Not to mention the closing months mostly consisting of illness. There was plenty to be thankful for, but admittedly, we were all ready to turn the page.

2017: it's time to pick back up, strap on a smile and get after it. And get grateful.

To document this untapped potential of the new year, just 13 minutes in, I tried a four-prong approach to things:

1. Let go of
2. Priorities
3. Cherish
4. Self-care

The first category includes things like comparisons, FOMO, doing it all and being attached to chaos. The "priorities" list says things like connect, play, reduce spending. In 2017 I will cherish BoyMom moments, more time at home, simplicity and the journey our family is on. And self-care will include going to church more often, reducing emotional eating, more rest and meal planning.

The full list is tucked near my bedside, holding all the newness of the 365 days ahead. Two days in the zen-like state had already passed, but there hasn't been a day yet that I think of the teal ink and what it can mean if I actually do the things I set out to.

This year, may all of your wishes come true. May you find inspiration in the small moments of your everyday. And may some of the most unexpected things bring you joy.

Share your list if you'd like - you never know when you'll be the inspiration someone is looking for.

Cheers to 2017 and you, dear friends.