Papa’s Picks : The Ultimately Easy and Affordable Girl’s Style Guide

Spring is coming and that means so many things are coming back to life. As a gardener, Edie and I are obsessively checking for new sprouts in our garden. We have also all but finished our Spring clothing shopping. Find the task daunting? Let us help you to make it simple and affordable.

When I first became a dad I way overdid it with clothes. In fact, if you ask my husband I still have that tendency. Setting a spending plan (budget is such an ugly word) helps to give you some guidelines. Make sure you are also aware of how your little one is growing and changing at the time. Don’t want to buy too much if in the middle of a growth spurt and always try and buy a little too big.

In New England, where it is winter for a really really long time, Spring is about adding some color again and also pieces that can be layered. Some of the pieces will transition into summer and some will not. Keep that in mind when prioritizing and sizing. After that I like to think about what things are priorities and what things I can get with leftover money as splurges. Here are the three categories I like to think of:

The Affordable Basics, Layers and Mix and Match, and Holidays and Splurges

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The Affordable Basics

One super important thing I have learned is that leggings are not an option they are a necessity. I also have learned that really 3-4 pair are plenty. I do laundry every day. Duh. See this post- Plastic Free Love. If you don’t do laundry every day, first off I envy you, secondly then add a few more pair. I used to buy higher end leggings and it is not worth it at all!! Target Leggings are where it’s at! $6? What? Yeah, $6 and they last and are soft and you need every color. Check out the unicorn ones! The basics go with everything!

Layers and Mix and Match

Next you need some layering pieces to add to your leggings. I can not say enough good things about Primary. Some of you still haven’t tried them and I’m really not sure why. Gooooooo!!! So soft. No stupid logos or goofy pictures. Just great colors and fit. I find the stuff to run a little big, which is great because you get a few seasons out of it. Their dresses have pockets: a must for Edie and most other dress wearers. Here is Edie in her black dress from Primary


Get 20% off your first order at Primary.com with code AFF20PCT
Enjoy a great discount code here!

Holidays and Splurges

With most seasons comes a special occasion or Holiday. When I can I like to splurge a little for an outfit. With Spring, I always look for a Birthday outfit and an Easter outfit. For those I usually do Hanna Anderson or Boden. As a newbie parent, I used to buy a lot more from them. As we are getting closer to paying for Kindergarten and in order to keep my marriage intact I try and shop at these spots only when on sale or for special occasion. If you have the resources, go for it. I particularly love Boden’s quality, and both brands are committed to representation and diversity. Win!

Look at this number we are eyeing for Easter:

Hello gorgeous

A shoes and accessories post will be coming soon and separately…but take a look here for the best shoes ever…Zimmerman Shoes.

Let us know what you think! How do you manage seasonal wardrobe changes? Share your successes and favorites with us!

Spring Springing

This morning Edie saw a robin at our bird feeder as well as some bluejays. We also noticed larger quantity and variety of birds than we have seen in months. Also exciting is that we noticed that there were the beginnings of buds on some of the same trees holding those feeders.

Some snow is expected in a few days, but February is about half way over and even in dark and dreary New England, spring is on the way. In the following weeks my almost 4 year old, Edie and I will pick out our seeds from Baker Heirloom Seeds. Just looking at their catalog and the colors can make you happy and hopeful.

One of the other exciting things about Spring prep is that you get to start picking out some brighter colors to wear. Well, at least Edie does. I pretty much stick with blue and gray all year long except for some Nantucket Red thrown in for good measure in the warmer months. In fact, even today Edie wore a bright pink cardigan to church that had a warmth that promised spring was on the way.

Here are some colors and styles we are excited about for spring!

1. When we first had a girl we said absolutely no pink. We didn’t want her to be a princess-imitating gender-norm-loving girl who overly obsessed with body and image and all things traditional used to keep women and girls down. But, we have softened. We still want her to smash the patriarchy but she can wear some soft pink while doing so. We bought this shirt this week because I just love a kid in an oxford or button up. Too cute. There are several colors available but the pink is adorable! Thanks, Target.

2. If you have never shopped at Primary then follow the link and start now. Lots of logo free, basic, good quality, comfortable basics for all genders. This is the first year they have offered raincoats and they are perfect. I love a Classic Yellow Raincoat , but they have several colors to choose from. Buy it a size up and you might just get two years out of it! Maybe…

3. You guys know how we love love love head wraps and turbans. Spring means we get to update fabrics and add bright colors again. Please take a look at this one here from our absolute favorites at Dillon Joy . It’s everything! Go ahead and buy it now because they will sell out!

4. Finally, everyone needs good quality shoes for Spring that will keep you warm and dry. Edie and I wear our rain boots to the beach everyday when we are looking for sea glass and other treasure. My mom always says you should never buy cheap shoes. And I always listen to my mother. You really can’t go wrong with classic Hunter boots. They are well made and are a spring classic.
We could go on and on, but we won’t. These are just a few things to help us lean into Spring a little bit. What things are you excited about this Spring? Let us know! Let’s keep hope alive.

Sweet Strawberry Goes Sour

The first three Halloween’s of Edie’s life we had total control of her costume and dietary choices. This is the sweet spot for a couple of control freak type-A gays who like things “just so”. The first year she was an owl, because owls were super on trend and Papa (me) can sometimes really want to appear cool. The second Halloween we started pushing our liberal gay agenda a little harder and Edie was the cutest suffragette ever. At the time, we still had a little hope for our democracy before the Orange Guy became the president. Last year, we pretend to give her a choice and not so subtly guided her to be Frida Kahlo. She WAS super into Frida Kahlo books at the time and still has a cute little Frida doll.

We knew that our control would eventually slip away and this year she turned 3.5 right before Halloween. For those of you that haven’t experienced being a parent to a 3-year-old, or for those that might have blocked that portion of life out of their memory for the benefit of survival, let me tell you that you often times feel that you do not have control of much, at all, including when you shower or sleep. Our Edith Daring is very opinionated (wherever did that come from?) and fiercely independent. These are traits that we want our strong girl to have, particularly as she grows to face this crazy-ass world, but it can be tricky at times to parent.

This year Edie realized about August that she would have a say in what she would dress up as. At this age memory is a little fuzzy (hers, not mine, although…) around things from a year ago. Of course she is the most photographed child in the history of the universe so she had seen some pics of her Frida picture from last year. She had assumed though that she had to be Frida every single year. I should have probably just let her think that in perpetuity.  Of course we also live in Salem, Massachusetts where we have 50,000 show up for Halloween night so folks start thinking about it early.  We also have a weekly Target habit/problem, so we started seeing costumes there quite early.  She wanted to be a slice of pizza (gross), a plastic donut thing, and countless other characters from tv or movies that none of us knew anything about.  What the hell IS a shopkin anyway?

One thing resonated and that was a strawberry.  She eats strawberries by the bushel.  We grow strawberries in our little yard and she tends to them and harvests them daily.  We went strawberry picking several times (in an adorable little frock from Hanna Anderson) and have the framed picture on our mantle to prove it. This was cute and sort of crunchy and earthy and good.  I steered her away from several really gross plastic ones at several of those pop-up Halloween stores that come and go in a month and found a super awesome one on Etsy.  If you don’t waste half of your income and life on Etsy, then you really should start thinking about it. You can find things that you never even knew you needed, like the assorted vintage Halloween decorations, the mens vintage weejuns, and the tablecloth that I ordered last week.  I love doing as much Christmas shopping on Etsy as possible and day-dream about what my next purchase will be.  It also makes you feel superior, er I mean good, because it supports small businesses and makers of handmade items.  Here is where we finally got her strawberry costume.  It was a hit. She was obviously the cutest strawberry ever in the history of Halloween.  She had a choice and we had nothing to say about it, really, but that’s ok.  We should probably get used to it.

She went to 15 houses! That means she got over twenty pieces of candy which brings us to the tricky part.  We are a little strict when it comes to food.  We want her to be healthy and strong.  She is the best eater ever.  I don’t think we did anything special I think some kids are just great and adventurous eaters and others are super not. Some kids are even super tasters and that makes things even more challenging.  We don’t want to be totally regimented about anything and most rules are made to be broken, but we mostly think processed food and corn syrup are pretty gross for the most part.  Except for Doritos.  Doritos are awesome, but only after Edie’s bedtime.  We decided to let her have a few pieces and then a piece per day for a week after.  Even after a few years sometimes we can be so naive.  You see, candy for most kids, including Edie, is a drug.  Today, she had dark circle under her eyes and I am pretty sure she would have traded her favorite baby doll, named Baby, for one more package of Skittles.  I was not prepared for the intensity that is the day after Halloween.

Currently, the rest of the candy is on top of the refrigerator.  This is where things go when they are taken away or “given a break”.  She is currently sleeping it off after murmuring “please Skittles” as she dozed off for the night and tomorrow will be better and candy free.  Tomorrow we are rounding up the rest of the candy and it is being traded in for a new toy. ( Oh, maybe on Etsy…no probably Target.) A very special witch will come and take the candy away and leave money for Daddy and Papa to buy the toy.  I am sure there is some future ramification we have not thought through for this deal but, when you are helping someone get off the Skittles, you do what you have to do.  For now, I will eat my Doritos ( I mean apple), trying to concoct a way to convince Edie to be a strong black feminist icon for next Halloween.  Or perhaps, I can just let her choose and watch her grow up as one in real life. 

A Bald Man Does Hair

Whether biological or adoptive parents none of us can really be totally prepared for all the changes that happen when we are lucky enough to have a baby. When I look back over the last 3 and a half years I’m astounded at how different life is as a parent and all the things that I have learned. I can change a diaper, make a booboo feel better, carry another human while walking the dog and carrying groceries, and I am pretty good at doing hair.

As a white middle aged bald man (wow, that’s depressing to write) my hair care routine for years has involved some clippers and that’s about it. No product necessary, not even shampoo, just the same bar of soap I use everywhere else. Admittedly, one of my trivial fears about having a daughter was that of hair care. Yes, those fears pale in comparison to the fears that she will face being treated as a second class citizen, unequal pay, victimization, etc., but a fear nonetheless. Having a girl of color made this an even more challenging feat as my husband and I are both white. But here we are loving our perfect girl and learning every step of the way how to do that. We make mistakes just like we do with everything else almost every single day but I am determined to get this one right and work hard at doing so.

We want Edie to love herself. No small feat I know, particularly for a girl of color with two gay dads living in a world where racism, sexism, and homophobia are still rampant and viciously alive. This is part of the reason why I am a bit obsessed with Edie’s clothes, wanting her always to put her “best foot forward” for herself. I want her to be determined, confident, and brave. She already asks for straight long hair. This breaks my heart. We tell her every single day that her hair is perfect and that she is gorgeous and exactly right. We show her other people, famous and ordinary, with hair similar to hers. We hope that this sticks. We tell her she is in charge of her body when random white ladies tru and touch her hair and we show her how how to say, “No, don’t touch me.” We hope that this sticks too.

We read books to her where people with hair similar to hers are characters and hair care similar to hers is discussed. (White parents of white kids you should read these to your kids too. Here is a great one: https://www.amazon.com/Emis-Curly-Coily-Cotton-Candy/dp/1503144941 If we all do this, it’ll really stick!

I won’t get in to hair routine too much with you. There are others that are far better at that than me, and I have learned from them and other women of color in our lives. https://www.today.com/parents/white-moms-black-hair-blogs-teach-adoptive-interracial-families-care-2D79488068Women and men of color all have different hair textures, needs, and routines just like all white and other people do. I will say that moisture if key for Edie and we make up for the money saved on my hair care needs by investing in plenty of product for her. She is worth it.

Our very favorite products are all from Miss Jessie’s . Everything. The smells are delicious and the quality is not to be beat.

We are also OBSESSED with this awesome mother and her handmade turbans: https://dillonjoy.com. Try one out! Perfect for a day when letting your hair rest or recover or just feeling like you don’t want to do your hair. Turns a mess into glam in no time. Edie doesn’t love hats at all and is often freezing because of that. However, she adores these turbans and keeps them on all day. Plus she looks so glamorous in them. The shop owner is so sweet and responsive and you can get a nice discount as a first time buyer.

I’m a middle-aged white guy (God, I really have to stop saying that) and I do hair. I wash, and condition, and co-wash (https://www.devacurl.com/blog/co-washing-101/). And I love it. I love it because it’s an experience that I’ve never really had with someone who looks different from me who is also my daughter. I love it because it’s intimate and relaxing and a time for bonding (and usually YouTube gymnastics videos). I love it because it slows down time and the day for a minute. Mostly though, I love it because it’s a time when my growing brown daughter sits on my lap and I can whisper, “You are beautiful. You are perfect. You are exactly as you should be.”

And then I pray that it sticks.

We Become What Is Expected

One of the things I learned as a teacher in Public Schools for almost a decade was that when teachers have high expectations for their students, they usually see students achievement increase.  This can be applied to several areas.  Unfortunately, in today’s school climate the philosophy is viewed in light of how to increase test scores. Gag. (That merits a whole other entry and is one of the reasons I don’t think I can go back to schools at this juncture).   A lot of the things that I learned as a teacher have helped me to better parent as well.  I am  pretty patient as a Papa, something else I owe to managing 20 little ones on my own for hours on end.  So, life prepares us for life and teaching helped me a bit to be a better parent for certain.  We get asked on occasion about the way we choose to dress Edie.  Mainly, we get questions around dressing her in Disney, or pink, or flowy princessy type clothes or more specifically why we do not. That is a tricky and complex question but here is a bit of our philosophy around clothes and really parental and societal expectations.

I guess the old quote, “clothes make the man..er the beautiful, strong, confident woman” is true.  When we dress our daughters in pink (only) or in Disney attire (only) or in those weird princess things that look like they might catch on fire if you are in the same room as a heat source we are telling them that there are very limited ways to be a girl (and a boy).  In fact, there has been a lot of research that shows that how we dress our girls (and boys) can influence and limit the career choices they make as adults.Forbes Article  Now, moderation in most things is the key, I suppose, and if your kid has a natural inclination toward these things then so be it.  As long as they know the options and that the girls see just as many options as the boys do.

The other issue at play here is entertainment and media.  I have to admit for the first two years of her life we had absolutely no tv or technology.  It was easy, because we just didn’t do it.  So, we didn’t know any other way. Plus we got to feel so smug about it. hehehe.  She does watch some tv now. In fact, on days like today when she is super tired and it is super cold and windy out she watches a bit more than I am comfortable with.  There are also many many days where she watches nada.  We are super careful and intentional about what she watches for the exact same reason.  A lot of media designed specifically for kids portrays girls as loud, mean, overly emotional, or unintelligent or flat.  Right now, she basically only watches Caillou.  I have to say (leave it to the awesome Canadians) that Caillou is pretty decent with regards to gender stuff.  The dad is kind and sensitive and does a lot of the cooking and cleaning.  Mom has a smart short haircut and has a life outside of her family.  Now the voices are grating and God awful but the content is good.  There is also a good amount of cross cultural relationships occurring. Win!

The point is that we control the images that Edie sees.  We think it is important that she see all the different ways to be a boy, girl, woman, man, or gender non-conforming. (Hey, maybe Caillou is gender non-conforming?) Maybe that is why we are all obsessed with this book- Julian Is a Mermaid We do dress her in a lot of dresses and tights and that is mainly because she prefers those.  She HATES jeans. I’ve tried them all.  We dress her as a little person in things that are comfortable and perhaps on trend. (Read gay dads who like to shop.) We also like things that are well made and that will last and we can gift or resell after she is done with them.  In the future we hope to share a few of them with you.  Ok, I will share one now. Sad that we discovered these folks at a point when Edie will soon be out of their size range but you will thank me for them when you check them out. Real shoes made by real people in the U.S.A. for generations. Obsessed…Zimmerman Shoes  If you follow our instagram, and you can right from this page, you will see a lot of the brands that we have come to love and trust.

I write this blog to share what I believe about raising my perfect kid. I do not have it all figured out and welcome comments and debate.  I do think our children become, in part, what we expect of them.  I want Edie to have all the options that an affluent white boy has and then some.  I want Edie to follow her heart, her dreams, and her passions, no matter what or where they are.  I want Edie to be kind and empathetic and interesting and interested.  Oh, and I want her to be well dressed too. I expect it.