Buy Hanna Andersson Without Breaking the Bank

Hanna Andersson Velour Stripe Dress

Two years ago I plunged into dangerous waters, and I blame my brother. He had a son in September 2015, and, being huge fans of Christmas, we immediately made plans to have our kids take photos with Santa together. “I got Roman some cute pajamas at Hanna Andersson,” he said. “Maybe he and Sarah can match!”

I had ventured into the Hanna Andersson store about a year previously—and immediately fled, because while their clothes are cute, they are generally at least twice as expensive (or more) as Carter’s. I mean, a $65 dress? For a baby? However, their Santa pajamas were so cute. Yes I bought them. And sure, they could have my email address.

This led to the discovery that Hanna Andersson has outlets, where clothes are usually discounted by at least 20%. However, these can be hit or miss–there have been several times where I have been lured in by an email touting $7 swimsuits or somesuch, only to discover that they have maybe one cheap suit in my daughter’s size . . . and a bunch of $65 dresses at 20% off. I love my daughter, but I’m still not shelling out $52 for a dress unless it’s some magic Christmas dress that somehow solves hunger or something.

Hanna Andersson Leggings Purple

Why buy Hanna at all? First, their clothes are cute. Like, super cute. They’re made of organic cotton, they’re constructed really well, and they wear really well. They don’t ever have writing on the butt or sexist sayings like “Math Is Hard” (although I wish they had more rockets and dinosaurs for girls). They look wholesome and like you could probably eat them when the zombie apocalypse comes and get all your essential nutrients (and fiber).

I’ve gotten plenty of clothes from Carter’s that look cute until about the fifth time I wash them, and then they look faded and limp. I’m not a huge fan of shopping–I get overwhelmed easily and start second guessing myself–so my method of doing major shopping for Sarah, who is now three, twice a year works really well for me. And I love how Hanna’s colorful patterns and combinations makes it easy to coordinate everything (again, I get confused!). So my system works really well for me and I wanted to share it!

Hanna Andersson Cottage Pink Playdress

Buying Hanna Andersson on the Cheap . . . ish

So the clothes are generally expensive (see above) and the outlets can be hit or miss (again, see above). Fortunately, I’ve found that Hanna Andersson’s Black Friday Sales are fantastic. This seems to be when they take everything out of the warehouse and go nuts, so there’s a lot to choose from in Sarah’s size, and I can find at least five dresses (I love their playdresses) and five pairs of coordinating leggings for about $200. So . . . I buy Sarah a 10-item wardrobe too, I guess?!? Except my mom and other family members gift her with clothes, too, ha.

Now this is still more expensive than Carter’s or other options. But in Oregon’s rainy climate, Sarah will generally wear long sleeves/pants nine months out of the year, and each of these outfits is worn at least once a week. And if nothing untoward happens (rips, stains I just can’t get out, huge growth spurts), she can still wear them the next year and look great, or I can pass them on to a friend and feel good about it.

Hanna Andersson Leggings Red

This year I missed the Black Friday Sale in the outlets (which generally starts before Black Friday, FYI), but I did squeak into the Cyber Monday Sale last night: an extra 25% off plus free shipping. And then I got a notice that this sale has been extended today and tomorrow (although it does look like free shipping is off the table—if you have a Hanna Andersson store nearby, you can have your loot shipped there for free)! So if you’ve been a little gun-shy about spending Nordstrom money on a toddler who regularly pours soup on himself, check it out! (Note: I am not an affiliate or paid shill. I would happily be a paid shill. Call me, Hanna.)

For Sarah’s summer clothes, I shop online between spring and summer and pounce when the spring clothes are mega cheap (short-sleeved dresses and shorts). Boom, done!

Hanna Andersson Tips: Making Clothes Last

So Hanna Andersson’s clothes are well made from quality materials, but I am still a little weird about keeping them nice and I’ve learned a couple of things to pass on:

  • Be conscious of woven vs. printed patterns. Before you buy, take note of whether the colors are printed, a.k.a. a floral pattern that was dyed into the fabric, or woven, a.k.a. a stripe that was knit from different-colored fibers. (To double check, look at the “wrong” side of the fabric and it will be obvious.) I still buy both, but generally, the woven pattern will stay vibrant longer.
  • Hang them to dry. The heat from the dryer is what breaks the fibers down in clothing and fades the color, so I hang all of Sarah’s clothes on a cheap wooden fold-out rack to dry. They’re still little, so they all fit on one rack! Extra credit: wash them inside out.
  • Use a good stain remover. The benefit of hanging clothes to dry is the dryer won’t set stains permanently, so tricky ones like grease—which often don’t show until your clothes are already dry—are easier to get out.

So that’s my crazy, what’s yours? Anyone else unhealthily obsessed with premium children’s clothes? I could use the company.

Advertisements
Baby Essentials Checklist

Ultimate New Baby Registry Checklist

Baby Essentials Checklist

Pack N Play, $20 (from Craigslist). Being able to take your baby camping? Priceless.

Here it is, expectant parents/grandparents/aunts/uncles: my ultimate list of baby essentials. This spreadsheet has been emailed around my circle of friends and family and I always get requests when I mention it, so I decided to update it and post it for everyone!

I first made this baby checklist when my brother and his wife were expecting their first child–originally, it was a list of things I had to give them (since I had Sarah the year before ), plus my own recommendations based on my own experience.

Note: I am not claiming any special authority on child safety, etc. Standards change, recalls happen. Please do your own independent research.

Also, the last thing I want is to come off like a bargain basement Gwyneth Paltrow. I’m sure many parents have raised their wonderful children with less stuff. Also, I encourage you to ask around to see if any friends have baby stuff to hand down (most parents can’t wait to get rid of it) or check Craigslist. If you’re buying secondhand, do your due diligence for safety concerns, especially for things like car seats. IKEA also has many safe, low-cost baby options.

This list does not cover:

  • Clothes (You will get so many, most likely in newborn sizes. Most of these items will not be worn by your wiggly baby–I do recommend Carter’s Sleep & Play outfits for ease of use.)
  • Toys (You will also get so many.)
  • Books (This is a personal choice between you and your bookstore.)
  • Stuff for Mommy (Although I swear by this type of nursing bra.)

Optional stuff:

  • Two things are marked with asterisks–the infant rocker and bouncer. This is because every baby is different. Mine loved the rocker, my brother’s son loved the bouncer. My advice: start cheap and work your way up.

For heaven’s sake just give us the link to the spreadsheet:

I would love your feedback on this spreadsheet–is there anything essential I missed? Anything that worked like magic for your baby? Post below!

Last Gasp of Summer

summer vacation Slurpees

Slurpees yesterday before we went to the pool–proof that we had fun (and sugar).

It’s the last day of summer, and I’ve been struggling holding back tears all week because I am that mom/stepmom/nanny (seriously, I cried when I was 19 and my 6-year-old charge went off to first grade–sorry Allie). Yes, Sid is entering middle school, and I am gripped by panic and guilt.

Did I use our summer productively? Did we have enough fun? Did I enrich Sid and Sarah’s lives and brains with culture, and challenges, and new experiences? Well . . . if watching Bob’s Burgers counts, the answer is a resounding yes.

summer canteloupes

All that work for two . . . two canteloupes that smelled better than they tasted. The anticlimactic flavor of summer (don’t even ask about the tomatoes).

In all seriousness, yes, we went to the zoo and on vacation, and swimming, and to the library every week for Tiny Tots. Sarah and Sid completed their summer reading challenges today (Sid read a lot of Archie). We watered the garden (occasionally) and made a ginger bug to make our own lemonade soda (turns out Sid does not like the taste of ginger), but mostly, it just feels like summer went by too quickly. Sid had at least five weeks of summer camps, and a huge chunk of my day is still taken up with Sarah’s naps and freelance projects (one big reason this blog has been slow).

But this summer is over, and we have a limited number of summers, and really, we might not have one like this again. Sid is 11, he needs less supervision and wants more independence, and that is a natural thing, a great thing. But man–right now I just want to capture this summer and keep it, fill the last few hours with everything wonderful and lovely and memorable and special.

I think this means more Slurpees.

Burn Baby Burn

We passed a milestone as parents this past weekend: first trip to the emergency room with Sarah, who got second degree burns on her palms after trying to climb some metal bars at the playground on a 93-degree day (we at first thought it was the slide, but retraced her steps and realized the real culprit). It was shocking and scary and frustrating, but I also felt a new, completely unexpected feeling: detachment.

Sarah will be two in September. Now, two is an age I’ve heard about ad nauseam: Ah, the terrible twos! Followed by the extremely annoying term threenager (apparently three-year-olds are total bitches). But I have a question: why does no one talk about the super-injury-prone age of one?

At 22 months, Sarah can walk, run, and climb just well enough to be constantly covered with bruises and scratches. She understands us well enough, but can only communicate the very simplest ideas: she wants maa–her word for milk–she wants to go to the pool, or, denied that, she plaintively asks, Baaa?–her word for bath.

She has no idea of the most basic dangers. During our trip to Wyoming, we did a mad dash to urgent care because she placed her hands in a door jamb and got her fingers pinched. I was holding her at the time and heard a cracking sound that lodged in my throat. I panicked as she cried, handing her over to Scott and wringing my hands and wailing as others gave her ice and looked for urgent care locations. I struggled to pull it together, finally bundling her into the car, naked in a diaper, and riding with her into town.

While we returned with her clothed and shod (I at least brought clothes with me) and a verdict of parental overreaction (it was the wood that cracked, not her little fingers, she was fine), I was ashamed of my extreme distress. After all, I’m Sarah’s parent: I’m supposed to be calming her and getting her to safety, not falling apart.

Compared to the finger pinch, the burns on her hands were much more gruesome–giant, angry blisters destroying her tiny little palms. It was the sort of injury you see and wonder, Will that leave a scar? But I did manage to hold it together, sitting with her in the back seat of the car while Scott drove us to the hospital. I thought about her little fingers in Wyoming and pushed my panic down, smiling and telling her that everything would be just fine, we were going to the doctor right now to make everything all better.

Weirdly enough, it worked like a charm. Sarah calmed down and laughed while we sang our ABCs together (her new favorite song). And the more I talked to her, the more I believed that everything would be fine. I stopped looking at her burns as a scary injury, or an indictment of my parental skills, and saw it as an accident that we were going to treat as quickly anas possible.

In the days after her grand ordeal, Sarah has done the following: tipped over in her tiny deck chair onto a brick patio, tumbled down the back porch steps, banged her head (while goofing around) into a wooden stair, and rammed her head into a wall (again, while goofing around). Today, she tripped during a visit to Sid’s new middle school and hit the floor.

And while I cringe at every tumble–and try to watch her ever-more carefully, I swear–I’ve noticed that new steel in my nerves as she hurls herself into my arms, crying Mommy! and I murmur, I’m sorry, everything will be okay. Because I am the parent. And I am going to buy that silly baby a helmet.

Last Gasp of Summer: Free Things to Do in Portland

Beverly Cleary Sculpture Garden at Grant Park

The Beverly Cleary Sculpture Garden at Grant Park in Portland. How have I never been here?!? From left: Ribsy, Ramona, and Henry.

I don’t mean to stress you out, but there’s only four more weeks of summer. Summer vacation, that is. At least, school starts for Sid August 29 (what the heck happened to school beginning after Labor Day?) and with our final weeks flashing before my eyes, I realized I needed to make a list. Of course. So here’s my curated list of free things to do in Portland this August.

Fountains

On a hot summer day, there’s nothing better than getting blasted by Portland’s fountains! This is by no means an exhaustive list, but I think the best ones are here:

Downtown Portland

Salmon Street Springs
Waterfront Park, Naito Parkway at SW Salmon
The classic. Large, right on the waterfront, plenty of firepower (waterpower?).

SalmonSprings

Sid and his friend Ernie enjoying Salmon Springs Fountain last summer!

Ira Keller Forecourt Fountain
Keller Fountain Park, between SW 3rd & 4th Ave, Market & Clay
The large concrete structures make this a fun one. I got in trouble in the third grade on a Bible study field trip by walking through one of the waterfalls, fully clothed. In retrospect, I would have been in much more trouble if I had been naked, right?

Teachers Fountain
Director Park, SW Yamhill & Park Ave
This is a new park and fountain. Not a lot of excitement, but great for toddlers and small children. Also good for foot soaking. Near Nordstrom.

SE Portland

The Rose Petal
Stark Street Island Park, SE 106th & Stark
I have never been here, and I cannot help but wonder what SE Portland did to be denied any close-in fountains. Am I missing something?

NE Portland

Grant Park Fountain
NE 33rd Ave & US Grant Pl
This is also the location of the Beverly Cleary Sculpture Garden–and they’re part of the fountain! I will be going here immediately.

Holladay Park Fountain
Holladay Park, NE 11th & Multnomah
I have not personally been here, but the Portland Parks & Recreation site says, “The fountain has programmable nozzles and valves on several plumbing loops to create a playful atmosphere of surprise trajectories and timing sequences.”

Woodlawn City Park
NE 13th Ave & Dekum St
I played at this park with Sid during the first year of Trek in the Park (in 2009!). Four-year-old Sid highly recommended the water feature.

NW Portland

Jamison Square Fountain
Jamison Square, between NW Kearney & Johnson, and NW 10th & 11th Avenues
Extremely popular, was near a good ice cream place last time I visited.

N Portland

Dawson Park Fountain
Dawson Park, N. Stanton & Williams
I don’t wanna wait–for our lives to be over . . .

McCoy Park Fountain
McCoy Park, N. Trenton & Newman Ave

Suburbs

Beaverton City Fountain Park
12500 SW 4th St, Beaverton, OR 97005
Oh, this fountain is a lot of fun. The streams of water are so high! Plus it’s right across the street from the library.

Lake at the Commons Interactive Fountain
8325 SW Nyberg St, Tualatin, OR 97062
Full disclosure–I grew up in Tualatin, and they built the Tualatin Commons–referred to by my brother and me as the “fake lake”–while we were in high school, closing a major road and screwing up traffic. All for a lake you were not allowed to swim in, ringed by restaurants that would open with great aplomb and then slowly wither on the vine, quickly replaced with other venues that would soon do the same, mostly because–they closed the damn road and no one could see them while driving by! Ahem. The fountain was still pretty fun. Also, I think the wine bar finally stuck.

Tualatin Commons Fountain

Tualatin Commons Fountain. The only good picture I could find (from Wikimapia) was apparently taken on a cold, rainy day. Typical!

Movies

I’ve always loved the idea of Portland’s free movies in the park. Movies under the stars, where I can cuddle up to my husband and bring a lavish picnic! I think I’ve been to exactly two, and one was an accident. But I am determined to go at least once this summer. Depending on the location (either public park or private business), there’s usually pre-movie entertainment, and the films start at dusk (around 9 pm).

Here’s the full schedule from Thrillist, with my picks below.

August 3:
Office Space
Pix Patisserie / Bar Vivant (2225 E Burnside St, Portland, OR 97214)
This isn’t exactly free, as you will not be able to resist Pix’s exquisite desserts or excellent selection of wine. Mike Judge’s genius ode to passive-aggressive (leading to aggressive-aggressive) ins and outs office life, starring Ron Livingston. Opens at 7 pm; movie starts at dusk.

August 6:
The Goonies
Wilkes Park (NE 154th & Beech)
You’re not too cool for this movie. Go see the source material for Netflix’s Stranger Things. Opens at 6:30 pm; movie starts at dusk.

August 14:
Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens
April Hill Park (SW 58th & Miles)
I’m going to this one, by hook or by crook! Opens at 6:30 pm; movie starts at dusk.

August 18:
Jaws
Elizabeth Caruthers Park (SW Moody & Gaines)
True story: I lived on Martha’s Vineyard, where this movie was filmed, for several years. Pretty much every middle-aged denizen of the Rock was an extra in this movie! Opens at 6:30 pm; movie starts at dusk.

August 20:
Best in Show
Sewallcrest Park (SE 31st & Market)
This movie gives me life! If for some reason you haven’t seen it, click the title for the trailer (I linked to all the trailers in the titles). Opens at 6:30 pm; movie starts at dusk.

August 31:
Rocky
Pix Patisserie / Bar Vivant (2225 E Burnside St, Portland, OR 97214)
ADRIAN! Opens at 7 pm; movie starts at dusk.

Multnomah County Library Locations and Events

I renewed my relationship last year with the Multnomah County Library last year after almost 20 years, and I’m so glad I did! There are 20 branches in the Portland area, and they’re all full of wonderful things for you–and the vast majority are free.

Did you know that you can put a hold on any book, DVD, or most any other library material online, and they will deliver it to your local branch? It’s amazing. Do that.

There’s still time to complete your Summer Reading game board, open to babies, children, and teens! There’s even a Bingo version for adults. Win prizes and read amazing books for free!

The storytimes at the library are wonderful–much better than the weak “singalong” class I paid for through Portland Parks & Recreation. There are events for babies, toddlers, young children, and families!

Want to brush up on your computer skills or get tech help with a device? Get it for free at the Multnomah County Library’s computer and technology classes.

Need your resume polished? The library has you covered.

Other events (and I’m just scratching the surface): arts and crafts classes that include making seed balls and an “all-you-can-make” art bar, book clubs, citizenship classes, and lectures and author talks that include a one-hour cheese class, a talk on Vanport, earthquake preparedness, Etsy basics, free-range poetry, and much more!

There are literally dozens of other fascinating events at the Multnomah County Library, see all of their events here!

Phew! I feel much more in control of my life with this list. What other free things have I forgotten? Post them below!

Yes You Can: Get Vomit out of a Car Seat

BakingSoda

You don’t want to need this post. But you may, someday. And then you’ll thank me. If thinking about babies or toddlers projectile-vomiting all over their car seats makes you queasy, bookmark this and come back as needed.

One day, I was setting up my son’s annual school art auction all day, so my sweet Sarah went to her brother’s baseball game with Daddy, Aunt Myndi, Grandma, and Grandpa. This is what I heard when they came home (I was upstairs getting into a fancy dress and doing my hair).

Sid: “That baby threw up everywhere! Your car smells like puke!”

Sarah: “Waaaaaaaaaaaah!”

I came downstairs to find Sarah covered, and I mean covered, in greenish puke (turns out it was chocolate chip mint ice cream) and sobbing, arms outstretched, as Scott undressed her on the front porch. The car seat was there, looking like Slimer from Ghostbusters had exploded all over it. It reeked of semi-digested dairy and bile. Whoa nelly. Now if this had been her infant carrier, it would have been easy–the whole cover came off and was washable. That was not the case with this one (check your manual to make sure).

This is how I handled it (the next day, even), with help from this source:

How to Get Vomit out of a Car Seat

  1. Blot up/scrape up as much of the vomit as possible. Use a spoon and/or a kitchen towel. Burn them with fire after.
  2. Cover the affected areas with baking soda; let sit for 30 minutes (preferably outside).
  3. Vacuum up the baking soda. Throw away your vacuum.
  4. Mix a solution of hot water with a splash of white vinegar and a few drops of dish soap.
  5. Now get a washcloth and/or a brush and scrub that chair! Don’t forget the straps–move around the buckles/pads/etc. to get into every crevice.
  6. Move around the padding/lining to make sure there aren’t any puddles of goo.
  7. Blot with a clean towel.
  8. Let dry, preferably outside in the sun, but a warm dry place will do.

Thankfully, this did the trick. And really, that car seat needed a good cleaning anyway. But dear Lord someone remind me to keep an old towel in the back seat!

I Think My Brain Is Broken

“What time are you going to Sequential Art tonight?” my husband asked this morning. I gave him a blank look. “I . . . don’t know.” I said.

He looked a little confused. “Really? Because you usually have this all figured out.”

And it’s true! I am the lady with the plan, the girl with all the answers (and the spreadsheets to prove it) and I just. Can’t. Get it together this week! I feel like I’m running in 50 different directions (with a baby crawling all over me at the same time) and I cannot focus.

This is how bad it is: I have a mostly blank Monthly Meal Planning spreadsheet in front of me and . . . I can’t think of what to put in it, because I definitely can’t think of cooking everything. What is happening to me? It is already May 5!

Fortunately, my lovely husband talked me through a plan that will get me to Trophy Room at Sequential Art Gallery, an exhibit of “real life” costume and props inspired by comics (that I helped put together), while he gets the kids fed and taken care of. So that’s taken care of.

But it’s clear I need to both 1) create a better, more workable schedule for myself (kids, blog, GeekCraft Expo PDX, other side project) and 2) relax. These two things might seem like complete opposites, but I actually relax when I start making schedules.

Right now? I’m going to get Sarah and me dressed and go get a cup of coffee. Because we’re out of coffee, because I haven’t been grocery shopping.

In the meantime: any suggestions for breakfast and dinner ideas? I could really use them before I throw my laptop across the room! Haallllp!