How to Get Your Bachelor’s in Less Time, For Less (Part 1)

Note: After posting I realized I should have included a better introduction. College is probably not on the radar for most of you. Many of you, like me, are full time homemakers. However, so many people have asked us how we obtained our degrees for less than $3000 in a relatively short period, I thought it may be of interest to some of you. I’ve decided to make Fridays the day for posting mini-series. After this college series, I have other series in the works.  

photo by Mary Gober

Joshua finished his Bachelor’s degree in a year. I dragged mine out over several. We both spent less than $3000.

“How?” many people have asked.

Today I’m going to start a series on the non-traditional college route we took and that worked well for us. In the series I will cover:

  • what a non-traditional, or distance, degree is
  • the pros and cons of a non-traditional degree
  • how to get a distance degree
  • various ways of earning credit
  • how to integrate non-traditional ways of earning credit into a traditional college career
  • resources to help prepare for exams

Maybe college is not on your agenda. Chances are, it is for someone you know. If you find the information useful, I’d be so grateful if you passed it on.

Before getting into the pros and cons of a non-traditional degree, it is important to get three preliminary questions out of the way.

“What is a non-traditional distance degree?”

A non-traditional degree is one obtained outside a brick-and-mortar classroom, particularly one earned through exams and online classes. It challenges the belief that the education required to succeed can only be obtained by sitting in a classroom for four years.

“Is a college degree necessary?”

Traditional wisdom says “Go to college. Get good grades. Get a good job.” That worked in our parent’s era, but more and more often these days, students are graduating college with a boatload of debt and few job prospects (unless McDonalds counts.)

One recent study showed that only 56% of 2010 college graduates had found a job by spring. Those jobs paid 10% less than starter jobs in 2006.

Meanwhile, the cost of college and the associated debt load is rising. Tuition is six times more expensive than 20 years ago. The average college senior graduates with $24,000 in student loans.

Will the sacrifice be worth it? Many careers require the letters B.A. stamped on a piece of paper. Some don’t.

“Is a traditional college campus necessary?”

So you need a degree. But do you need to go to a brick and mortar college?

Many degrees can be obtained without ever stepping foot inside a college classroom, including English literature, psychology or political science.

For other degrees like nursing or engineering, at least part of the coursework can be done outside the classroom. Some schools will even allow pre-med students to test out of general education courses.

Earning at least some credit through examination is a wise option for most students.

Next up: the pros and cons of an outside-the-box education.

Linked up at Frugal Fridays

Practical Tips for Showing Hospitality (in a Small Home)

As I talked about yesterday, hospitality is a command, whether you live in a small home or not.  Opening up our homes is a way to show “generosity and kindness” (as Webster puts it) to friend or stranger.

When we first moved into our little home, I never dreamed I’d one day feed eleven guests (plus our five) for lunch. Or think it was fun.

As I’ve tried to practice hospitality in our little home, here are some things I’ve learned along the way.Things that work for me:

Don’t be afraid to invite guests over: This may seem silly, but when we first moved into our little home, I was afraid to have company over. Pride played into it, but I also thought who would want to leave their homes and come hang out at my little place?  Maybe you have thought the same thing. But most people still want to come. Even large families! After all, they’re coming to see you, not your home! Some might even find the small home cozy and nostalgic.

Clear out the clutter: If you want to fill your home with people, there won’t be as much room for stuff. Clear out the clutter and make sure the things you have make your home a better place to be. Plus, the less you have, the less there is to make messes with!

Get creative: If seating is an issue, turn buckets or boxes into makeshift stools and pull them up to the table for kids. Turn your living room into the dining area. Eat outside. Make it an indoor picnic.

Some activities just don’t work in a small home, but many do: Seated group games don’t take much space. A long walk is fun if it starts to get cramped. Sometimes we turn our room into a personal theater for the kiddos so the adults can talk quietly.

Keep the menu manageable: Remember Mary and Martha? Don’t focus so much on food that you don’t have time to enjoy your company.

Make a plan: Pick a few tried and true meals and desserts that you can rotate for company. Write out a menu. Try not to experiment on guests. [Don’t ask me how I know!]

Be prepared:[Try to] keep the home somewhat orderly. Keep easy to heat up food in the freezer for unexpected or last minute company. Some cookie dough freezes wonderfully (like the dough for these Almond Crunch Cookies.) Freeze the dough in wax paper and when a friend drops by, slice and bake. Soon you’ll have hot homemade cookies to serve.

Expect imperfection: Hospitality is not about putting on a perfect front. Be real. Sometimes the meal won’t turn out exactly how you wanted. Sometimes the dishes will be stacked high in the sink or your toddler will “decorate” the living room right before guests arrive. It’s okay.

Embrace the adventure: Warn your guests ahead of time that your home is small. My guests won’t get a guest room. They may not even get a chair. Enjoy squeezing a few more people into your home. Laugh. Make memories. It takes very little space to have a good time.

Prepare your self: The last few minutes before guests, arrive I’m usually flying around the house trying to get the last few things warmed up or put away. But, whenever I take time (even a minute or two) to pray, glance in the mirror and prepare myself, I am much better prepared to show real hospitality to others.

Most importantly, love your guests. Show them how glad you are to have them in your home. To loosely paraphrase Solomon, a simple meal served with love is better than a fancy feast and hatred (Prov. 15:17) Remember why you invited them over in the first place: you love them and want to get to fellowship together.

What about you? How do you show hospitality? Any suggestions for entertaining in a small house?

photo by agamamedia

Showing Hospitality in a Small Home

According to Western standards, we live in a small home. Often, when first-time guests walk into our home, they glance around with a look of you do realize you have three children, right?

Yes, we are aware of that fact. We know it’s crowded. Although it’s a tight squeeze, we rather like our little house and think staying here is best for our family at the moment. 

Whether by choice or necessity, many of us live in small[ish] homes.

Hospitality is still a Scriptural command. No matter how small your home is, you can still show hospitality.

Maybe you can’t lay a spread like Martha Stewart. Maybe your guests, like mine, will be eating on the couch with barely enough room on the coffee table for plates, much less a centerpiece.

Maybe, despite constant scrubbing, your cracked old linoleum never looks quite clean.

Maybe you can’t prepare a gourmet dinner with less than two feet of counter space.

It’s okay.

There are many challenges we women face in being hospitable. Worry and pride are special challenges when working from a small home.

But hospitality is not about impressing guests with incredible decorating or cooking skills or a large beautiful home. Hospitality is about sharing and fellowship and friendship and love.

Webster defined hospitality as “The act or practice of receiving and entertaining strangers or guests without reward, or with kind and generous liberality.” Kindness and generosity can be shown in the tiniest of places.

Those with large homes can more easily host a large Christmas crowd, but if your house is as small as (or smaller than) mine, there are still ways you can bless others by opening up your home.

You can still invite a friend over for lunch to fellowship over a hot bowl of soup, provide a college student with a home-cooked meal or turn your living room into a somewhat comfortable campground for friends passing through.

You can still bless a friend. A very hospitable friend (and amazing cook) said she sees it as part of her ministry to give other busy moms a break by cooking dinner for them. As a recipient of her hospitality, I know just what a blessing enjoying someone else’s [simply amazing] cooking can be.

Opening your home to friends and strangers is a command and a privilege.

Come back tomorrow as I share practical ideas (and a few things not to do!) when showing hospitality, especially if you live in a small home.

Linked up at Teach Me Tuesday and Domestically Divine

photo by agamamedia

Learning to Say “No”

Christmas is around the corner. The calendar and pocketbook are being tugged at from every corner.

Cookie exchanges, Christmas performances, and holiday get-togethers vie for our time. It seems like every time I enter a store or turn on the computer, some new item that no one on my Christmas list needs, but would be so fun to get anyway, shows up. On sale of course.

The temptation to over-commit and over-spend is strong.

We must learn to say “no!”

Even to some of those incredibly delightful sounding parties or tempting books on sale for $5.50. Not so that we can play Scrooge, but so that we make room for the best, with no regrets come January.

We must make room to treasure the true Meaning of Christmas.

It's the season of love, joy, and endless demands on the schedule and pocketbook. Learn to say "No!", so that you can say "Yes!" to the best.

photo by Benjamin Earwicker

Learning to Say No

I hate saying “no” to events. Partly because I don’t want to miss out on any of the fun, partly because I don’t want to offend a friend. After numerous times of reaping the consequences of over extending myself, I’m slowly getting better.

As Crystal from Money Saving Mom points out, the purpose of learning to say “no” is so that we can say “yes” to the best.

We simply cannot do everything. (Or buy everything.) Time and money are limited resources. Saying “yes” to one thing of necessity means saying “no” to something else.

Prioritize

 Choose what is most important for your family, at this season of life, and let go of the rest.

Know your limits

 Some women can bounce from activity to activity without letting it affect their home, their family life, or their attitude. I cannot. Just because another woman/family is hostessing or attending fifty activities doesn’t mean it would be wise for me to.

Likewise, each of our Christmas budgets are different. We’re working intensely on paying off school loans. In the long run that’s a much better gift to our children than a large play set (that probably wouldn’t even fit in their room!)

Don’t commit immediately

It’s not an earth-shattering idea or anything, but it has been so helpful since I read about it a few months ago (I wish I could remember where!) Graciously say you need to check your schedule and/or talk to you husband before saying “Yes!”. This helps avoid an impulse decision that you’ll regret or, even worse, have to back out of later. (Don’t ask me how I know!)

Clear out the clutter

De-cluttering in December is weird. It’s also a very strong motivator to avoid impulse purchases. Many of those “50% off TODAY ONLY!” items will end up in the donation pile within a few months.

Simplify other areas of your life

The schedule is almost always more full at Christmas, so simplify other areas if you can. Unless you are forced by budget constraints or pressing health needs, lighten up a bit on yourself. As Joshua reminds me, “It’s not a sin to use paper plates!”

Most importantly, give thanks!

 We’re celebrating the greatest Gift ever given to mortals: God Himself as our Redeemer! No celebration can come close to being more lavish than that Gift. Yet don’t let the celebration cloud the Cause!

Learn to say “No!”, so you can say “Yes!” to the best

Learning to say “No” is hard, but so totally worthwhile. Every time we say “Yes!” to something, we’re saying “No!” to something else. By learning to prioritize, recognize our limits, and simplify, we can make sure we have room in our hearts and schedules to say “Yes!” to the best.

How do you stay sane during the holidays? (And have you ever had to back out of a commitment?) 

Ten Tips to Stay Away from Walmart Longer

photo by Cindy Kalamajka

Shopping with three little ones. It’s doable. You can make it fun.

If you’re like me though, you would much rather take them to the park or sit on the couch together with a stack of books.

Unless you live on a self-sustainable farm or can afford a personal shopper (wouldn’t that be nice?!) trips to the store are a necessity. My goal is to make them as rare as possible. Even if you don’t have little ones, spreading out the shopping trips saves money by avoiding impulse purchase. Here are ten tips for lengthening the time between treks.

  1. Keep your pantry stocked: Instead of waiting ’til you’re scraping out the last bit of peanut butter, keep several jars on hand and rotate them. Don’t have a pantry? There are many other creative ways to store food.
  2. Make a menu using common ingredients you keep on hand: find your family’s favorite meals and keep the staples for fixing them well stocked.
  3. Plan ahead: Do you entertain often? Pick a few meals that you like serving to guests and keep the pantry or freezer stocked with ingredients to make them. Will you need to bring food to a baby or wedding shower? Pick out a few recipes that you enjoy bringing to events and (you guessed it!) keep the ingredients on hand.
  4. Keep a running list: As soon as you start to run low on an item, add it to the list. Before heading to the store, make sure your husband isn’t almost out of shaving cream.
  5. Substitute: Out of eggs? A tablespoon of flax or soy flour mixed with a tablespoon of water works in baked goods. No oil? Try substituting applesauce or yogurt. Here’s a detailed list.
  6. Check expiration dates in the store: The difference between one dozen eggs’ expiration date and the next can be weeks.
  7. Keep the expiration date in mind at home: Some foods spoil quickly. Some don’t. Eggs, potatoes, apples, Romaine lettuce, citrus fruits, etc. can keep for at least two weeks properly stored. Eat the fresh food that spoils more quickly first and then rotate to longer keeping foods.
  8. Utilize your freezer: Many perishable foods can be frozen, including milk. We don’t like thawed milk as much as fresh, but I’ll use it to make yogurt for breakfast smoothies or to serve with granola. If you run out of fresh fruits and veggies use frozen.
  9. Be creative: Out of numerous basics?  Search for recipes using what you do have.
  10. Share the load: Have a friend or neighbor that also has small kids (or just doesn’t *love* shopping)? On their shopping day see if they could pick up a gallon of milk or other item you need to prolong your trip and then return the favor when you’re shopping.

These ideas work for me. What about you? Do you space your trips out as far as possible?

On the Road: Leaving the house

Summer is fully here and with summer comes plans of travel.

Joshua winds up his first half of summer clerkship tomorrow and then we’re headed out of state to stay with family for a month and a half while he does legal research.

Extended trips take preparation. Especially if you’ll be gone for weeks.

Even if you’ll just be gone for a few days, a bit of preparation saves money and makes the return more welcoming.

The weekend away to do list:

  1. Do a quick clean: just 15 minutes spent washing the dishes and wiping down the bathroom makes coming home much more pleasant.
  2. Water the garden and indoor plants.
  3. Turn the air conditioning up (or the heat down. ) No need to keep the spiders cool!
  4. Unplug unnecessary appliances. Just having them plugged in takes electricity.
  5. Finish the milk and anything else in the fridge that’s likely to go bad quickly.
  6. Empty all trashes: otherwise the ants might take it as an invitation.
  7. Put dinner in the freezer for the night you get home.
  8. Leave an energy efficient light on and lock the door!

If you’re going to be gone for an extended time, a bit more planning is in order, but definitely worth it!

10 things to do before an extended trip:

  1. Clear out the fridge: for a few weeks before a long planned trip, focus on eating from the fridge and pantry. It uses up food that might otherwise go bad and saves on the grocery bill!
  2. Bug-proof your pantry. Store food in buckets, glass jars or the fridge.
  3. Wash and dry all the laundry. It makes packing easier and avoids moldy stinky clothes. Leave the washing machine lid open. A bit of residue water collects in the machine (at least my model.) Let it air out while you’re gone to avoid mold.
  4. Leave a clean house. An empty house is temptation enough for bugs, unwashed dishes and a dirty bathroom make it even worse! Maybe even set a few bug traps…
  5. Be energy smart: Unplug unused appliances, turn up the A/C and turn the water heater to “vacation.”
  6. Ask a neighbor or friend to keep an eye on things and water the garden or indoor plants.
  7. Make sure valuables are with you or safely stored.
  8. Have your mail held: you can do it easily online at the USPS website.
  9. Plan for your return: have dinner and bread in the freezer to make unpacking easier and last until you restock the fridge!
  10. Don’t forget the kids! in the midst of the packing take a break and relax with the munchkins.

Have you traveled this summer or do you have big plans? What do you do to make the return better?

photo by Nicolas Raymond

Be a Hairstylist

Cutting my family’s hair is one of those things I would still do if I were a millionaire.

“Hair-cutting day” formed part of the regular routine in my mom’s home. About once a month, she pulled out the hair cutting supplies. My dad and brothers never set foot in a salon.

I soon wanted in on the action, but my brothers never let me come close. Once, while a brother was in the middle of a haircut, I snuck in behind and grabbed the scissors determined to learn. Before I snipped one tuft, my brother realized it was me and cried, “Stop! I don’t want to be your guinea pig.”

I was thirteen – and devastated.

Years passed but still they obstinately refused to let me “practice” on them. My hands were untried when Joshua and I got engaged. He has seven brothers. His mom always cut their hair. You can imagine just how experienced she is. But, thankfully, he entrusted his hair to my care. (What choice did he have?!)

Obviously, cutting your family’s hair is the frugal route. A cheap men’s haircut runs $10 around here.

All you really need to do your own haircuts is a pair of scissors and comb, but a simple kit makes the task simple and produces good consistent results.

The best way to learn is obviously by watching. You could go to the salon and study the stylist, but youtube has scores of free tutorials with instructions ranging from conservative cuts to dyed Mohawks. The library is also a great resource.

I cut Joshua’s hair about every four to six weeks. That’s almost $100 saved yearly. Over the years, that adds up—especially if you have eight sons!

Even if money weren’t an issue, these reasons would keep me snipping away.

  • Convenience: You are not confined to the hairstylist’s schedule. I can cut Joshua’s hair at 10:00 Saturday night or fit in a haircut right after breakfast on Monday morning.
  • Time saved: No need drive to the appointment and wait while the stylist finishes another client. Now that I know exactly what Joshua wants, it takes less than twenty minutes to cut and clean up. (And those minutes are minutes that I get to spend with my busy husband. Why would I want someone else to?!)
  • Creativity: Homemaking encompasses an array of skills. Each one is an adventure and broadens our scope of abilities. If you’re cutting a wiggly toddler’s hair, try the bath. Their hair is already wet and they are preoccupied. A sleeping baby is even easier.
  • Satisfaction: Not only the satisfaction of getting the exact style your husband wanted, but the satisfaction that comes from mastering a skill.

I don’t foresee ever giving up cutting my guy’s hair, but am not so sure about my own. I have cut my own hair twice. Once was my favorite haircut ever. The other the worst. Usually I just talk my mom into cutting it.
What about you? Do you cut your family’s hair? What about your own?

part of Thrify Thursday and Frugal Friday

photo by Flavio Takemoto

Thrive in Small Places: Storage Solutions

Small homes don’t come with oodles of storage room. Old homes are often short on cupboards and closets. Combine the two and you’re left with small closets and few cupboards.

Have you ever wondered just how many items the modern home contains?

Our grandmothers have much to teach us. They didn’t depend on every new gadget that hit the market to run their homes.  Most of the shiny new contraptions aren’t worth the price tag. Carefully evaluate whether a new item will significantly help you become a more efficient or frugal or healthy homemaker before it ever enters the front door. This will dramatically cut down on the need for storage.

Simplicity is best.

Some items, however, are worth storing: Grains bought in bulk or a year’s worth of pasta purchased at a rock bottom price slash the grocery budget. A well stocked cupboard eliminates unnecessary trips to the store.

If you hope to have a large family, it would generally not make sense to get rid of the hand me downs. Storing a “bare minimum” collection of clothes saves considerably over the long run.

A gift stash makes last minute birthday parties or the event that crept upon you unaware (even though it was on the calender for a month) no cause for panic.

But of course, food stockpiles and old clothes take up space. Where should they be stored? There’s the obvious places like under the bed or behind-the-door racks. Here are other ways we’ve made limited storage work.

  • Build a shelf: it doesn’t need to be pretty, just sturdy. Most of my “pantry” sits behind the couch on a rough floor-to-ceiling shelf . Cover it up with a pretty cloth and it actually adds to the decor.
  • Keep the fridge and freezer full: even if something doesn’t need to be stored in the fridge, most items stay fresher. Plus, a full fridge cuts down on cooling costs. Air is more expensive to keep cool than a bag of flour. (An awful lot of food fits into a regular freezer.  If you don’t have room for a deep freeze, prioritize. Meats fluctuate in price considerably. A freezer full of rock bottom priced meat is a good investment. Brown hamburger, add the spices and sauce and you have dinner almost ready to pull out of the freezer.)
  • Use the bathtub: a dirty laundry baskets fits perfectly. The pile of clothes is out of sight but easy to get to.
  • Decorate with storage: Jars full of beans, rice or honey add a cute country charm. Hang your child’s cutest outfits from pegs on the wall.
  • 5 gallon buckets of grain double as sturdy movable stools for a toddler.
  • Fill the trunk: Light weight sports equipment, an umbrella stroller and the return/donate box fit well.

What other places do you store items?

Photo by Eva Schuster

Decorating the Nursery

In contrast to the modern insistence on a separate room for each child, nurseries hold a delightfully practical charm. Webster’s 1828 Dictionary defines a nursery as “The place… in a house appropriated to the care of children…where [childhood] is fostered and growth promoted.”

Although planning your wedding is a common girlhood activity, at ten I realized that the average girl changes her mind about the bridesmaid’s dresses too many times in the intervening years to make it a worth while activity. I would plan a nursery instead.

I envisioned a room with light streaming onto gleaming wooden floors from the massive windows lined with white flowing drapes. A bay window overlooked the fruit orchard. Plush blankets covered the beds. Sheepskin rugs were strategically arranged in front of the wooden train set and dollhouse, and cherry bookcases held all the great children’s classics. A rocking chair sat in the corner, but most of the room was open for the children to play.

Maybe I should have planned my wedding?

Of course, a separate room for little children is not a necessity. Many people share with their children for years, but it’s a luxury we find completely worth it. At home “date nights” are more feasible, I sleep much better (and so do the children!), Joshua can stay up late studying and I love having a place dedicated to “the care of children.”

Like the room, many of the standard baby items are not necessary:

  • We inherited the crib Joshua’s dad made when he was little, but while a safe place to sleep is essential, a crib is not.
  • Baskets in the closet or on a shelf easily hold a child’s wardrobe. Canvas bags are simple place for diaper storage (this is what we did for the first couple years though I was ecstatic when my in-laws gave us a matching hand-crafted dresser!)
  • A blanket on the floor is the safest place to change a baby

Although my imaginary nursery is bigger than our entire home, there is one thing I wanted to ensure in my real nursery: floor space. With little floor space in the rest of the house, even a small nursery should have room to build a block tower or make a doll hospital. Eliminate the bulky toys, store smaller ones on bookshelves,  pare down the wardrobe and keep the decorations simple.

Besides the beautiful crib and dresser, the rest of the room is furnished with gifts, garage sale finds and handmade bumber pads (with batting and piping rescued from a garishly wild set I found at a garage sale), dust ruffle and wall hangings.

Before William came along, I couldn’t quite resist the urge to add pink to the nursery, so this week worked on making the transition to more neutral greens and browns.

Decorating with a neutral theme requires a little more thought, but there are so many cute ideas out there that don’t have to break the bank. Since Rose loves trains, they were a logical choice. Teddy bears multiply without any help from mom and made a simple addition.

Before:

After:

The only really sad part was taking down the lovely quilt Rose”s grandmother made her and relegating it to Rose”s bed. In it’s place, I made a train wall-hanging. Not a fair trade, but it will have to do! Brown ties took the place of the pink.

A simple swap of ribbon tied the teddy bears into the color scheme. Canvas bags, decorative boxes and baskets make great containers for toys.

Teddy bears and books fill the basket and a couple church outfits in coordinating colors complete their simple decor.

Do you have a nursery? Why or why not? If so, how do you decorate it?


Simplify the Children’s Wardrobes

“He was clad rather shabbily (but, as it seemed, more owing to his mother’s carelessness than his father’s poverty) in… very wide and short trousers, shoes somewhat out at the toes, and a chip-hat, with the frizzles of his curly hair sticking through its crevices.”

Many years later, Hawthorne’s description of “the little urchin” in House of the Seven Gables lives fresh in my mind.

None of us want to be that careless mother. Thankfully, it no longer takes the average mom hours with a needle in hand to make enough shirts to last her son through the summer.

Our problem is generally quite different: an over abundance.

As moms, the goal is simple: to start the morning in clean clothes. (Who can vouch for them after an hour at the park?!) You don’t need a dresser full of clothes or half a dozen pairs of shoes to accomplish this!

In fact, a simple wardrobe makes it easier to keep the children presentable. Have you ever stared blankly at a full closet wondering “What in the world should they wear?” By limiting the selection to a few durable outfits you (and they) like, when morning rolls round you don’t have to wade through a heap of clothes to find something appropriate. And matching.

Too many clothes is most American’s problem. Why not hand the excess on to someone who really needs?

Two simple questions help determine how many outfits your child needs to avoid “urchin status” and keep the wardrobe manageable.

How many messy is your child? My toddler can easily go through two or three outfits a day (and sons are, reportedly, even messier), but usually it is more like one to two outfits daily.

How often do you do laundry? Of course, if it isn’t dirty, don’t wash it! There’s nothing wrong with wearing the same outfit two days in a row.

With those two questions in mind (and using  need in the loosest sense possible) what clothes does your child need to be presentable, cute and clean?

This list works for us:

  • Dress clothes: Two or three outfits.
  • Everyday clothes: Seven or eight outfits.
  • Pajamas: In the summer a clean t-shirt and shorts work great. Then in the morning they’re set to play. In the winter a couple warm snugly pairs are nice.
  • Shoes: dress shoes and a pair for everyday play (if they’re neutral all the better!)
  • Socks and undies: a 8-10 pairs of  socks for every day and a couple pairs of nice socks… and about twenty pairs of underwear if you’re potty training!
  • For girls: Hair bands, ribbons and bows. The simplest difference between “urchin-like” and presentable is simply making sure hair isn’t covering the eyes.
  • Summer fun: Swimwear, “wet shoes” (we LOVE crocs!) and a sunhat or two.
  • Winter warmth: Jacket, gloves, hat and winter boots.

Another way to keep it simple if you have boys and girls is to gravitate towards neutrals. I’m all for masculine boys and feminine girls, but coats and play sandals, underwear and everyday socks don’t need to be covered in dolls or trucks. Leather, tan, chocolate, or any shade of green works for well for either gender.

What works for you?

photo by Siewlan