Join us on our Journey Down Under!

We're an American family living in Australia, where everything seems a little bit turned-upside-down.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Buying Shoes for Kids: 10 Things to Consider

With three kids to buy shoes for, it seems we are always in the market for a new pair.  There are some key things I've learned over the years, and I'm happy to share them with you!

10 Things to consider when buying shoes for kids:

1.  Is there room to grow, but not too much room?
I'm always tempted to buy shoes that are too big for my children because I want them to last longer.  This tactic usually does not work out, because they won't actually be able to wear the shoes until they fit properly.  Also, who am I kidding?  The shoes usually wear out before they grow out of them!  My new rule of thumb, if the shoe fits, they will wear it, and not before!  Buy a shoe that fits properly, with just a little bit of room to grow.

2.  Are they comfortable?
We've all bought shoes because of what they look like.  We are lured by their cuteness rather than by their comfort.  Women are known to choose pain for the sake of fashion, but kids are much less likely to do this.  In fact, they won't do it at all.  If a shoe doesn't "feel right", they just won't wear it.  Look for shoes that are the proper width for your child.  My daughter had very wide feet as a toddler, so we  had to buy special shoes.  As much as we tried to squeeze her feet into the sparkly, narrow, flats, they just wouldn't budge.  My son, on the other hand, had extremely narrow feet, so we had to find shoes that fastened tightly without slipping.

3.  Are they easy to get on and off, without falling off?
This is a huge one for me right now.  I love that my 2 year old wants to be independent, and put his shoes on by himself.  This task is achievable with his slip on shoes.  It sure makes my life easier! But be careful, you don't want the shoe to come off too easily.  This will cause havoc at the playground and the shopping centre.  Shoes that won't stay on are no good at all!

4.  Will they withstand the action?
Let's face it, kids are hard on shoes.  I always look at the sole and the toe.  I think about the shoe scraping the street on a skateboard, or dragging in the sand at the playground.  I think about how it will withstand puddles, mud, and the soccer field.

5.  Are they "fast" or "fancy"? 
Although comfort comes first, it is important that your child likes their shoes, or they won't wear them either.  My boys want their shoes to be "fast". In fact, they like to show me how fast their new shoes make them run, or how high they make them jump.  My daughter likes her shoes to be "fancy" and "fast" at the same time; a double challenge! I'm not huge into character shoes, but the kids love them. Every once in a while I cave and buy them, mostly because I know they will wear them.

6.  Can your child run and play while wearing them?
This is key.  After all, what we really aim to have are happy, playful children, right?  We want them to be able to run and play at will, without having to miss out on something because of their shoes.

7.  Will you let your child get them dirty?
Have you ever caught yourself telling your child not to do something because they might ruin their shoes and get them dirty?  Yes, well, me too... and I regretted it.  Rather than have them miss out, consider purchasing a shoe that can be cleaned up easily.  My favorite are the shoes I can throw right in the washer machine.

8.  Are they too cheap?
It is tempting at times to buy the least expensive shoes on the shelf, but like the saying goes, "you get what you pay for".  Not only will the shoes break down and not last long, chances are the cheap shoes are not good for your child's feet.  It is important to have proper insoles with arch support, especially in a sport shoe.


9.  Where can they wear them?
Are they practical?  Can they wear them most everyday?  Except for special occasion shoes, I really try and purchase shoes that my kids can actually wear on a daily basis.  Otherwise, we're stuck with a closet full of shoes that are too soon to be outgrown.  (See #10 below).

10. Do you really want an entry way full of shoes?
I've gotten to the point where the kids only have the shoes they need. There was a time we had several pairs for each child in different colors and styles.  We were swimming in shoes, and had no place to store them.  They were piled in the entry, in the laundry room, outside the door... you get the picture.  Then I realized they really only wore about three pairs of shoes regularly: their school shoes, their "church" shoes, and their sandals.  Sure made my life easier, and saved me lots of time and money.
Here is our manageable collection of shoes.


I hope you enjoyed this very practical guide to shoe shopping for children.  Remember, it's okay to splurge once in a while...even the littlest feet deserve a bit of shoe therapy! Happy shoe shopping!

~A



Being Cows at the Perth Royal Show!



Saturday, September 29, 2012

Movie Review: Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days












Here is a three part movie review from an 11 year old girl, a 9 year old boy, and their Mom.

McKinley 11 years old:
I went with my family to see "Diary of a Wimpy Kid:Dog Days."  All the regular cast of characters are back in the third of the Wimpy Kid movies including: Greg, Rowley, Rodrick, and Holly.  Greg wants to have the perfect summer, which in his case means playing video games, but his dad has different ideas.  Greg and his dad don't have all that much in common, so they don't get along that great.  To save himself from being an intern at his dad's work, Greg goes with Rowley to the country club everyday where he is happy to find out Holly, the girl of his dreams, is also hanging out for the summer.  Greg gets himself into his usual mischief; dragging his best friend, Rowley, into all sorts of trouble.  Will Greg have the best summer ever? Will he get the girl of his dreams? Will Rodrick, his annoying brother ruin everything? Watch the movie to find out!
I thought Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days was a touching, but funny movie.  There were some touching parts that had my eyes tearing up, and other parts that had me crying because I was laughing so hard! My favourite funny part was when Holly's sister got what she deserved, a bucket of chocolate poured over her head!  This movie really showed how much a dad loves and cares about his son.  I have seen all three Wimpy Kid movies, and I couldn't believe how much the characters have grown since the first!  It was fun to see how much they have changed.  Although this wasn't my favourite of the three movies, I still give this movie 3.9 out of 5 stars.



Everest 9 years old:
A couple of weeks ago, I saw "Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days".  The main character, Greg, wants to have a video game summer, but his dad keeps getting in the way.  He dodges working at his dad's work by pretending to have a job at the Country Club. He goes there with his best friend,Rowley,and gets into all sorts of trouble.  He also goes on vacation with Rowley to an amusement park by the shore and gets into trouble again!  In the end, he goes to a scout camp with his dad, and after a terrible experience there with another troop, they grow closer together. I thought this movie was mostly funny, but also stressful because Greg was always getting into trouble. My favourite part of the movie was when Greg went off the diving board and lost his swimsuit.  He had to swim in the pool all day to hide. I would recommend this movie and give it 4 out of 5 stars.

Mom's review:
The third Wimpy Kid movie was a real treat.  I loved the first two, so was excited to bring my kids to this one.  We left the littlest (2 year old) at home, and I was glad we did.  This movie is best for older primary school aged children, I'd say 8 years old and up.  As a mom, I could really relate to the parents in the story, and I felt like they really pegged some true to life family dynamics.  There was the over zealous dad, endlessly trying to relate to his sons through sports, and competing for "Father Of The Year" with the neighbor next door.  I laughed out loud at the mom that was so much like myself it scared me.  Although Greg gets himself into his usual mischief, I felt like his heart was in the right place.  The movie kept our interest, had us laughing, and pulling for the main character. I felt that this film was wholesome and  appropriate for the target age group which is rare these days.  I would recommend the movie, giving it 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Blogging Around the World!


Here's the coolest thing about blogging:


Graph of most popular countries among blog viewers
EntryPageviews
United States
5984
Australia
364
Russia
152
United Kingdom
90
Canada
55
Malaysia
47
Mexico
35
Indonesia
31
Germany
23
Spain
16

Now, compared to most bloggers, this is nothing.  But for me, the fact that somebody in Malaysia has read my blog blows my mind, not to mention 152 people in Russia!  

I have learned more about the rest of the world in my one year living here, than I have learned in my whole life.  My geography, I'm embarrassed to say, has always been... let's just say, "lacking".  Moving internationally has opened up a whole new world to me, literally!

In the last year, I have become hungry to learn more and more about different places, and how people live.  I'm curious about what their homes look like, where they shop, what food is available to them, how they dress, what's their religion?

I know it will impossible for me to visit everywhere I want to go, so I've decided to start a series of blogs from around the world.  If you or someone you know would like to participate, please submit the name of the town and country in which you live/or have visited and at least five of the following:

1. Picture of your home (or one in your town). 
2. Picture of something you love about where you live.
3. Picture of your market/grocery store.
4. Picture of a church in your town.
5. Picture of a play park where you live.
6. Picture of your mode of transportation (car, boat, train, bus).
7. Picture of a postbox/mailbox.
8. Picture of a typical teenager in your area.
9. Picture of a school yard and/or student (uniforms?)
10. Picture of a bird or non-domestic animal in your area.

You can submit more than 5 photos if you wish, and feel free to add extra photos of things I don't have listed here. Be sure to send a caption or brief description with each photo.  If you are a blogger, I will give full credits and link up to your blog, unless of course you want to remain anonymous.

Please spread the word!  Let's see how many countries we can discover together!









Thursday, September 13, 2012

K-Mart is Kewl!

When I was in middle school, I wouldn't be caught dead in K-Mart.  It would have been social suicide.  In fact, there's a funny story my mom loves to retell about the time I nearly plowed over my poor Grandma in K-Mart when I was nearly caught shopping there by some classmates.  My Grandma told me I had nothing to worry about, after all, they were caught shopping there too.  "Still!"

I avoided K-Mart for years.

Then I moved to a small town in California where the only shop was K-Mart.  We all hated it, but had to shop there or else drive an hour to the nearest Target.  This solidified my dread for the place.

So, when I moved to Perth, I was less than thrilled to see the big, red "K".  Let's just say I didn't go rushing in the place with excitement.  But then something about the advertising caught my interest.  They actually sell t-shirts, pillows, and plates for $5?  Shoes, jeans, and popcorn makers for $10?  Insane.  I had to check it out.

The place is okay. Definitely the place to find a fun bargain. Which brings me to my favorite K-Mart story.

First some background...

Hagen and I were at the park for a morning play.  I was wearing my usual workout pants and top (just in case I found the time for the gym of course).  After about 15 minutes, a couple of  "mums" came up with their "bubs".  These moms were adorable and dressed so fashionably for the park.  I hope they weren't offended by my staring, I was just admiring their fashion sense.  I especially liked a belted dress one of them was wearing with leggings, boots, and a little sweater.  After squinting to see the pattern on the dress, I noticed they were actually little horses.  Definitely from some high end boutique...very cute!  I thought to myself, "I really should get dressed in more than workout clothes now and then."
yellow dress booties ankle madewell
She looked something like this. (Photo from Shine.Yahoo.com)


Now for the K-Mart part...

Usually the shops around here close early, but on Thursdays they're open late.  I needed a little "breather" from the homestead, so I took an evening off to go shopping.  I still had my workout clothes on, so the gym was also a possibility.  You can relate, right?  Well, somehow I ended up at K-Mart so I hit the clearance rack.  I love a bargain, even at K-Mart.  You won't believe what I found, but the horse dress.  I was dying! Better yet, it was the horse dress for $10, and it included the belt!

Needless to say, I bought the dress.  I've worn it a couple of times since, but I haven't sported it at the park... I'm just not there yet.  I have other K-Mart stories, like how my Dad found a pair of great shoes for $2 while he was visiting, and my hair dresser had K-Mart sandals that were identical to my very expensive Steve Madden's.

I'm going out on a limb here, and perhaps committing "social suicide" but the truth is, I think K-Mart is kewl, with a capital, big, red K.